by Nancy Howell
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
Matthew 14: 27-31 (NLT)
Fighting heavy waves…far from land…in the middle of the night…praying for relief….
Dear sisters, does this describe parts of your grief journey as you navigate the waters of life?
How many of you have cried out, frightened that the stormy waters and the waves will capsize the boat you are in?
In my marriage, I wasn’t the captain of our ship. With a lot of patience and training, I became a pretty decent first mate, as my spouse and I sailed the sea of life. We had defined roles. I never steered, which was fine by me.
My husband, Mark, was the consummate captain. He kept a close watch on the weather, he took all safety precautions, and made sure that we sailed on calm waters most every day of our life together.
Under his leadership, I never even thought about steering…I was content to be Gilligan to his Skipper, Mr. Spock to his Captain Kirk, jelly to his peanut butter. It’s what worked for us, over the life of our marriage.
After losing him, I found myself lost, as well. I’d never steered a boat. Overnight, it was dumped into my lap–all of it.
God, I don’t know the first thing about navigating this boat. What am I supposed to do?
In the midst of my storm, the waves are choppy, the wind is blowing, and I am desperate. The wheel of the ship is spinning–no one’s in control. The captain has gone on to his heavenly reward.
The ship is now in my hands, the first mate, the left-handed girl from Western Kentucky, who hasn’t steered in 23 years. In the vessel with me are our two sons. They are certain I’ve got what it takes to lead them, even in the midst of the storm we’ve been pulled in to.
I cry out desperately, the sobs heaving in my chest, so loud that I can be heard over the high winds and crashing waves–I cry to my Father for help.
I see Jesus. He’s walking on top of the storm, the waves, the wake, the churning mess of life that’s tossing my boat around. And with each step He takes, the waters lie calmly beneath.
He beckons me to come out of the vessel. This, dear sisters, is the ultimate stretch for me. I don’t think “outside of the boat.” I have a well-defined comfort zone, most happy while I am within its parameters, where I feel safe and secure.
He’s asking me to step out in faith. On the water. Without a life jacket. And walk towards Him.
Do I have the faith of Peter? Not by a long shot.
But I am comforted by Peter’s very human response in the above passage. He steps out, and is doing great, as long as he keeps his eyes focused on Jesus. The waves, the wind, and the foaming sea begin to distract him–he takes his eyes off of his Savior–it is in that moment he begins to sink and drown. He cries out.
Jesus grabs him by the arm, saving him. And He asks, ” You have so little faith! Why did you doubt me?”
I’ve been steering our little boat for almost two years now. We’ve had our share of storms, of downbursts and clouds.
But we’ve also had days of smooth sailing, with me at the wheel.
Again, the storm starts back up. I cry out for help.
Jesus is once again asking me to come away from the wheel, step out of my comfort zone, and trust Him. He wants me to climb over the side of this boat I finally have a handle on, and step out onto the deep treacherous water.
He’s pretty persistent when He needs to be—and pretty hard to ignore.
So I step out. Out in faith. Out of my comfort zone. For His glory and His glory alone. He tells me that together we will do wondrous things for His kingdom.
I just hope I am up for the challenge.
Today I come to you, asking that you calm the seas of all my sisters who find their boats in the midst of a storm they cannot handle. Many, like myself, never dreamed they would be in charge, by steering it, keeping it up to code, performing maintenance, ensuring it has enough fuel, making sure it is sea hardy.
Give them the confidence and the strength and the know-how to steer their ship of life through whatever weather conditions that might be encountered.
Whenever You come to them, walking on water, beckoning them to step out in faith, give them the strength to take that first step, to swing their legs over the side, and step onto the water, whether it is choppy, cold, or calm and crystal-clear.
You and you alone have the power to calm the seas surrounding each of us. Help us step outside our comfort zones for your glory.