Peter was insane.
Rationally speaking, Peter was completely outside of his mind. Countless Sunday School illustrations and flowery devotions have softened just how nuts the story of walking on the waves truly was. The scene that Matthew describes in Matthew 14 sounds more like a cross between A Perfect Storm and Paranormal Activity than a youth lesson.
On one hand, I admire the fact the Peter was of the mindset not to do anything until Jesus told him to do so… yet, jumping out of the security of the boat is a decision that possibility made his peers question his sanity.
Next comes the truncated explanation that we all have been told–namely, Peter began to sink because he took his eyes off of Jesus and instead focused on the chaos of his circumstances. Cliché? Yeah. But there is a reason why cliché’s exist… they tend to be true.
Jesus in consistent and loving faithfulness, rescues Peter from his calamities.
What is striking to me about this episode is what Jesus speaks to Peter as He reaches out and grabs Him.
Initiating the “grab,” Jesus identifies Peter’s condition as not being a poor water-walker or having a deficiency in nautical skills–rather, Jesus indicates that Peter has “weak faith.”
Fast-forwarding throughout Peter’s life, I think we come to the conclusion that the dude ends up having an incredibly robust and resilient faith anchored to Jesus. So–what happened? How did this faith come about?
I’ve come to the terrifying conclusion that faith comes with a very expensive cost.
A couple of years ago I began repeatedly praying for the Lord to “give me more faith.” Seemingly a pretty harmless prayer, right?
Not so much.
In the coming months my wife and I became very sick… so sick in fact, that I began having panic attacks over the storm that engulfed us. Did I take my eyes off Jesus? Yep. Was I consumed with doubts about the waves and wind? You bet. Did I learn my lesson? I’d like to think that I slowly am starting to.
But the big epiphany that dawned on me, was that God was beginning to answer my earlier prayer of having more faith.
You see, I anticipated that God would sprinkle “faith” like a chef seasons a dish or Tinkerbell sprinkles fairy dust. But that’s not how faith works.
Faith is a by-product.
Faith is a by-product of being rescued. Faith is a by-product of being rescued by Jesus.
This sounds great, but the reality is, to be rescued by someone, means we have to be rescued from something. It means that we must be in harm’s way. It means that we may have to be in a very scary situation. It means that we will have to encounter a vicious storm.
The good news, is that Jesus walks above the storm. The good news is the storm obeys Jesus. The good news is that when we affix our gaze upon Jesus, He initiates an all-out rescue effort with the utmost love and care by pulling us into His arms.
It is then, and there, that He gives and grows our faith.