Summary: When the billows are tossing high and life seems at its worst, how can we manage to stay above water? Peter teaches us to Listen, Look, and Lean on Jesus.
Walking On Water
by Scott R. Bayles, preacher
Church of Christ
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-3a
Invitation Song: Faith & Praise #453 "Love Lifted Me"
Claudia was a newlywed in her twenties when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and given only a fifty percent chance of survival. Quickly, she was operated on and began cobalt treatments that transformed her almost overnight from a young, beautiful woman to a physical wreck.
Her husband was a chaplain’s assistant in a hospital and had seen many sick and dying patients. He said, "In the movies, couples who have fought for years, in the face of danger suddenly forget their differences and come together. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way in real life."
"When a couple encounters a crisis," he said, "it magnifies what’s already present in their relationship. Since Claudia and I trust God and love each other deeply, the crisis drove us closer...The crisis of her illness merely...intensified the feelings already present."
Claudia and her husband had no idea they would ever face such a catastrophe, but when it happened, they found they had already developed the strength to weather the storm (Adapted from "Hope For the Troubled heart" by Billy Graham).
Many of us will probably never experience the enormity of the crisis that Claudia and her husband faced. But still, there will be some storms, some heartaches, some decisions, some gut-wrenching moments that have the potential for bringing us into a life-changing crisis. What will we do then? Will we be prepared to face it? Will we have the inner resources that we need? And if not, then how can we prepare ourselves for that day?
I believe that the unique experience of a fisherman who walked upon the sea of Galilee gives us some hope. Please read this inspiring passage with me.
Matthew 14:22-33 (NASB-u)
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.  After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.  But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."
 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."  And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"  When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.  And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God’s Son!"
What an incredible story! And what an awesome demonstration of the power and compassion of Jesus Christ. I’m convinced that if we want to have the resources we’ll need for a time of crisis, then each of us must make our preparations for that day. Every one of us has the ability to rise above the torrents of the winds and waves, and walk safely across the sea. But in order to do so, there are some steps that we must take--some lessons that we can learn here from a Galilean fisherman. If we desire to do more than struggle to stay afloat, we must first...
...to Jesus’ call. Jesus said, "Come!" And Peter "got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus." Before we criticize Peter for sinking, let’s honor him for his magnificent demonstration of faith. He dared to be different. Anybody can sit in the boat and watch, but it takes a person of real faith to leave the boat and walk on the water.
Peter heard the call and he obeyed. If not for his faithful response to Jesus’ invitation to "Come," Peter would have plunged immediately beneath the waves. The very first preparation that we need is to make sure of our relationship with God, that Jesus is our Savior, and that we are walking toward Him.
What do you suppose would have happened if Peter had jumped out of the boat and started running in the opposite direction? He probably wouldn’t have made it one step! He would sunk beneath the waves and drowned in the sea. And yet, that’s exactly what many of us do when life’s thunderstorms and hurricanes start billowing up.