“And He said, ‘Come!’
and Peter got out of the boat,
and walked on the water
and came toward Jesus.”
– Matthew 14:29
Water-walking has never been my strongest skill set. I want to be the kind of person who wants to take courageous risks to push the boundaries and move forward, but buried deep in my heart there is a quiet fear of the unknown, of the unexplored. And yet, the command is there. A command to come. To walk. To tread where there isn’t a clear pathway cut forward. A command to trust.
And trust, my friends, isn’t always easy.
But earlier in Matthew 14, there’s another part of the story that I often miss when I’m reading about Peter walking on water. After Jesus fed the 5000+, He sent the disciples in the boat to slip away while He dismissed the crowds. Once they were out on the water, the wind began to toss the boat as a storm grew around them. Yet, while the disciples where in the midst of the storm, Jesus was alone on the mountain, praying.
You see, the disciples climbed in that boat after watching Jesus do something unimaginable. When He fed the 5000 (+ women and children), the disciples saw His miraculous power right in front of them. Moments after that, Jesus sent them out — right into the storm that He knew was coming. He still sent them out.
Meanwhile, He prayed for them, interceding while they faced the storm. And if Jesus sent them into the storm and prayed for them while they were there, you might say they were safer in the midst of the storm than they would have been on land.
And then, in the fourth watch – between 3 and 6 am – Jesus came, walking right on the water to them. And it was Peter’s turn.
Sometimes I wonder what I would have done if I had been in the boat with the disciples. Would I have stepped out with Peter, risking it all for a chance to walk on water with Jesus? Or would I have stayed in the boat, anxiously waiting to grab Peter’s hands and pull him back in the boat – just knowing it would all fall apart?
There are moments when the calling to come and walk is so clear that it cannot be shaken, no matter how risk-averse we might be feeling. This has been one of those seasons for our family – hearing Jesus’ voice so clearly say “come” and not knowing exactly how steady the water is beneath our feet. When Jesus is calling us to something specific, it is a little easier to trust the water beneath us. But when He’s calling us to trust, to step out and to know that He is writing a story in our lives that we cannot yet envision? That’s a hard step to take.
But when His calling is clear, there really is no other choice than to take the risk, to put a foot over the side of the boat and stand up – with our eyes on Jesus and our trust that He can make the water strong enough to hold us, no matter what.
Serving the people of Lexington Baptist Church has been our great joy and love for so many years now. It was in the halls of LBC where I first met Jerry, where friendship grew into love and where life together began to unfold. It was to the nursery of LBC where we carried Maddie and then Hudson, unsure of what to do or how to begin this journey of parenting. Long before that, it was the nursery of LBC where my parents took me, as they began their own parenting journey. I was baptized in these waters and watched Maddie make the same decision. We’ve lived and loved and laughed and cried with people we love. We’ve learned how to minister alongside of so many wonderful LBC staff members over the years. We’ve loved passionately and been loved beautifully in return, and it is so very hard to think about leaving. But Jesus bids us come and walk – so we will. We will do what is hard because we have learned here that God is good and that His plans can be trusted, no matter how scary they sometimes seem.
Because, after all, we do know this: you can’t walk on water if you don’t first climb out of the boat.