Get Out of the Boat

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Get Out of the Boat

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A father is looking up, his arms outstretched in the water of a swimming pool. His 3-year-old daughter, who is clearly afraid of the water, is on the side of the pool. The father is lovingly and patiently waiting for his daughter to jump into his arms, instructing her with words like: “Trust me. When you jump, I will catch you.” The daughter hesitates, every part of her pounding heart and uncertain mind is screaming not to even think of moving.

Her mind bounces around. Does she jump into the loving arms of her father or will fear and a lack of faith in her father’s arms keep her from jumping? So far her father has been pretty trustworthy. Faith says jump.

So why won’t she jump? Fear surrounded by doubt tells her not to. We find it in Matthew 14 and it concerns Christ and faith and fear and Peter.

A biblical test of faith

In Matthew 14 is the story: “And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:28-30 Matthew 14:28-30 [28] And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water. [29] And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. [30] But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
American King James Version×

In reading this story I would guess that most of us have thought that Peter was just lacking in genuine faith and trust in God. Maybe Peter was spiritually weak. Maybe Peter was too reckless and skeptical of Christ’s ability to keep him protected. Yes, I would even think that we may consider Peter a grand failure when it comes to faith and trust at this time of his life.

But I would like to ask that we glance around the boat that Peter was in that night. There were 11 other disciples in the boat (Matthew 14:22 Matthew 14:22And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
American King James Version×
). Why is it that only Peter is even interested in getting out of the boat and following Christ on the water?

Peter took a step in deepening his faith. Peter wanted to experience what the power of God could do in his life. What about the other 11? What about their faith? It would appear that they were so frightened by the wind and the storm, that they were not even willing to check the extent of their faith through the power of Christ. They were afraid that night. Fear is an enemy of faith.

We have many opportunities to grow in faith

Through this story about Peter I have come to understand that fear and anxiety of the human heart can eliminate all opportunity for faith to grow. Christ was providing the chance for the faith of all the disciples to grow that night, and yet only Peter was willing to try.

Because of this amazing story concerning Peter and Christ, I have come to think differently now about my fears and my faith. Faith is not just an idea we ball up into a corner for safe keeping. Faith is a decision—a decision to trust what God and His Son say They will do, and to trust what They are able to achieve in us, if we step out and trust Them.

We all need to consider how our human fears can destroy the opportunity for our faith to grow. How can faith grow if we just stay in the boat?

Back to our opening scene. That story of the father and his 3-year-old daughter is a parallel to you and me. You and I are just like the little girl, unsure of our fate if we jump. You and I need to be sure we are willing to jump into the arms of our loving Father when He patiently instructs us to jump. God says, “Trust Me. When you jump, I will catch you! I have plans to work with you; to teach you so that you are not afraid of the wind and the storms of life.” (See Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
American King James Version×

Will you and I come to be like Peter, or will we just be like the other 11 disciples and stay—unsure and troubled—clinging to the boat? We may never know if we are growing in faith at all if we are always crouched in the safety of the boat when our Father says, “Trust Me.”

Step out of the boat.

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