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There is Something Amazing in the Sinking

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said.”

Matthew 14:25, 28, 29a

Oh, these verses hit me in the gut!  Here’s why: Peter manipulated this call.  It was his idea. 

He saw Jesus doing something miraculous. He wanted in. More likely, he wanted out. He wanted out of the boat, out of the physical world constraints to which he was subject. He secured his invitation.

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Matthew 14:29b, 30

There is something amazing in the sinking, a nugget for you and for me.

Let’s back up a little. The verses prior to these explain that the disciples were in the boat because Jesus had plans on the other side of the lake. He had sent them ahead while He stayed behind to finish after a prior engagement. And before He joined them, He went off, alone, to pray.

The disciples had quite a head start across the lake. The wind whipped up and the water got choppy. My version of the Bible says the boat was “buffeted” by the waves.

buf·fet; verb
past tense: buffeted
1. (especially of wind or waves) strike repeatedly and violently; batter.
2. knock (someone) over or off course.

Dictionary.com

There they were, in a little boat in deep water, being buffeted. If I put myself there, I imagine hanging on for dear life, trying not to throw up. It does not sound unlike how life feels to me right now, but that is a point for a different post.

Jesus intended to catch up with them so they would arrive together on the other side. Do you think they wondered how He was going to do that? They were certainly not expecting Him to come walking out on the water.

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.”

Matthew 14:25, 26

Can you imagine? It would have been amazing on a calm lake, but this water was rough! It was a show of power indeed.

Peter wanted to walk in power too. (That is giving him the benefit of the doubt. My suspicious side thinks maybe he just wanted to do something cool. Either way…) He stepped out onto the lake, became afraid, and started sinking. Jesus immediately caught him and put him back into the boat. 

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”

Matthew 14:31-33

Jesus did not pull the disciples out of the storm and put them back, safely on the shore. He moved them forward. He calmed the storm and then saw them through to the other side.  Why?  Because crossing was God’s plan, His idea, His will. 

Peter, though, was plucked from the waves and returned to the boat from which he came. Jesus gave Peter a glimpse of what was possible, but there, in the middle of the lake, in the pre-dawn dark, more water-walking was not the miracle they needed.

Ferocious blue waves: There is Something Amazing in the Sinking
Photo by bt3gl on Pexels.com
Peter’s first thought was not to calm the waves, but to walk on them like Jesus did.

Peter was enthusiastic, but his timing was wrong. Miracles bring glory to God, not men. God was working. Jesus was calming waves. The buffeted boat was going to make it safely across and Peter was distracted by his own idea. He had to be put back in his place.

Peter’s ego was probably a bit worse for wear when he found himself back at square 1. But did this disqualify him from being part of what Jesus had planned? Not at all.

Jesus had something amazing to do on the other side of the lake. It was to heal the sick and save the lost. All the disciples, including Peter, got to be part of it.

“When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all who were ill to him and begged him to let those who were ill just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”

Matthew 14:34-36

There is something amazing in the sinking of Peter that resonates with me. I recognize times where I have called myself into ministry. I saw Jesus doing something amazing, somewhere other than my area of responsibility, and asked Him to let me participate.

Ultimately, when I sought positions, as opposed to being called to them, I was chasing opportunities for my own glory. Whether I wanted to appear useful in the Kingdom of God, feel gifted for service, or whatever my reasons, they were about me.

When it became apparent that my ideas were a distraction from what God had asked me to do, my efforts tanked and I sank. Jesus had to grab hold of me and set me back where I started. 

A boat safely moored and in calm water: There is Something Amazing in the Sinking
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com
I need to stay in the boat God puts me in until He calls me out.

Jesus, the ultimate Life Guard, has always rescued me. In his grace, He has allowed me to get back on board with His amazing agenda, even after distractions and failures. I can say, there is nothing like sinking to remind me to ride contentedly in the boat I am given to the shores God has in store for me.

Lord, You are so good! Please forgive me for every time I’ve stepped out into situations for which you hadn’t prepared or called me. You are faithful to rescue and restore with such patience! I do not want You to have to keep returning me to square one. I want to progress in doing Your will, in Your time, and for Your glory. Oh Lord, your agenda, not mine!