At this point in my life, I feel like I am wandering in the desert with the Israelites. It is a time of waiting. I am on the cusp of my Promised Land, but relegated for the time being, to trekking in the desert; my Promised Land is the ministry I know God has given me, but has yet to reveal. This time of waiting is a time of preparation: He’s preparing me for whatever comes next, He’s preparing my family to enter into that Land along with me, and He’s preparing that Land to receive me. I have learned to be content and excited about this preparation time, because though I am ready to get started in the Promised Land, I have learned that this time is Sacred… It is a Holy time when God is working so hard in preparation for the future. I don’t know what that future holds, but I cannot wait to see the results of His incredible work. So this morning, as I have been pondering this trek in the desert of Preparation, I am reading out of Matthew 14: 22-31:
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
One of the first things in this passage that I think is so simple, yet so vitally important, is that Jesus took time to go up on the mountain by himself to pray (v23). Numerous time in the gospels, we are told that Jesus consistently went by himself and spent time talking to his Father. Jesus – who was fully God and fully man – spent a portion of each day speaking to the Father. If Jesus, who (again) was God himself, thought is was vitally important to spend time in prayer every day, why do we think that it is not absolutely vital for us? Why do we (I am absolutely speaking of myself here) push it off and place it at the middle or bottom of our priority list? Why do we feel like so many other things are more important? Why do we feel like it is not a “must” for our days? Confessions: I am so bad at consistently making time to spend with God on a daily basis. Mostly out of pure laziness. Jesus’ actions show us the importance of prayer. How I hope and pray that God imprints the necessity of prayer in our own lives. How I *pray* that God gives us a burning desire to spend time in His presence, enjoying Him, beseeching Him, praising Him.
The next portion is probably very well known to most of you; I know it is one of the first stories I remember hearing as a child, and one that has had powerful impact at different points through my life. Today again, it has struck me anew. As I read the words of Peter I cannot help but think, “Is it any wonder that it was this man that Jesus chose to be the rock of the church?” What an incredible man who would think to ask to walk upon water alongside the Messiah! As the others cower in fright on the deck of the boat, Peter is climbing out of it to walk upon the wind-tossed waves to his Savior. What courage! What faith! Jesus did not ask Peter to come to him; Peter asked Jesus to do the miraculous. In our prayer life, in our ministry and service to God, do we ask him to do the impossible? Do we ask to do the things that terrify others? Do we ask for miracles as others are cowering with doubt? Oh how I long to be the one who has the courage to climb of a boat as the storm is raging, even if it is only to walk on water for a few steps before I sink.
On the other hand, can you imagine being one of the ones who watched Peter walk on water? Can you imagine watching someone else do the impossible, knowing you could have done it too, should you have only had the courage? If you but skim the book of Acts, you should know that God does incredible, miraculous things when His people have faith and believe. If you but listen to any testimony, you hear God doing incredible, miraculous things still today. Will you choose to believe? Will you choose to ask the impossible of God and throw your legs out of the boat, knowing that the water will hold your weight as you place one foot in front of the other in the pursuit of your Savior? Oh God, how I want to walk on the water with you!
As we all know, however, Peter’s faith falters and he begins to sink. But. Jesus does not let him sink far before pulling him out of the water. Even if we begin to lose faith, Jesus does not let us drown! If we have the faith to begin a journey with Christ, He is not going to let us fail without pulling us back up. We may fail – but the failure is temporary if we grab hold of Jesus’ hand and let him pull us back up.
So today, as I think about the future- as you are thinking about whatever God has laid in front of you- I pray that we are filled with the hope and faith and perseverance like Peter, and that we have the courage to swing ourselves over the side of the boat and walk on water. I pray that we have the courage to do the impossible, knowing that Jesus has already made it possible as he went before us. Walk upon the water with Christ straight into your Promised Land and go with all boldness, knowing He has already gone before you and you cannot fail. Amen.