Continuing from the previous Pebbles…the disciples are in a panic. They are struggling against wind and wave, fighting for their lives. Real life. Circumstances are out of control without a clear resolution. All the good intentions of calm sessions in therapy are thrown overboard when reality overwhelms purposeful and wise life goals. Where, you may ask, is God? The clatter of confusion speaks louder than anything and foolish fear is right back on the governing seat of heart and mind.
The disciples were fighting a violent storm on the lake, when Jesus approached them on the water. They could not see in the darkness and had no way of knowing who or what this ghostlike image is.
He speaks command-like certainty to them to calm them down. [Pebbles 145] His voice is the means by which they recognize their Master.
Can you hear him speak to you this moment, even in the raging circumstances? He brings calm and reason with his voice.
What is the next step? We all know Jesus can calm a storm. How wonderfully grand that story has been told in words and art! I would expect nothing less in this case. Speak to my waves, Jesus. Speak to the wind, Jesus. Bring me some calm so that I would know I am safe in the boat.
As if the storm in the dark is not enough to focus their attention on Jesus, He does not address the situation. Everything is still in crisis mode. The boat can capsize, the people can drown – I mean, lives are at stake! Get this miracle on my circumstances done now!
Actually, not yet. It is time for faith living. Could we experiment a bit in stormy, deadly waves? Let’s do something counter-intuitive; something completely irresponsible. Oh no, you might say, stay in the boat and continue praying. Don’t push matters too far.
Trust our impulsive friend Peter to push matters along.
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.
Key words to live by. On the command of Jesus we will ride out the storm. His voice says: Come!
I have no doubt that Peter would have walked with Jesus to the edge of the water, through the storm in the darkness, keeping his eyes fixed on the face of Jesus and his ears pitched to hear Jesus’ voice. However, he looks down and sinks.
Jesus was always very truthful about the cost of discipleship. He never allowed emotional commotion to rule over rational decisions and wise deliberation. In spite of an emotional and impulsive decision to get out of the boat, Peter quickly sensed the daunting and terrifying scope of the storm. This would not be a walk in the park!
Nevertheless, Jesus will never let him sink. He reaches out and pulls Peter to safety. Peter did not suffer defeat that night. Defeat would have been drowning. He took a mighty step of faith, and even when it looked too big and too frightening, he could stretch out his hand to his Saviour who was right there next to him.
He touched Jesus in faith. Together they landed safely on the beach. He survived the storm, with many lessons learnt and sharpened life skills for the next one.
Defeat is a matter of perspective. Peter walked on the water and in spite of his sudden panic and the demobilizing fear that sunk him, he walked out of the storm on the arm of his Master. He did not die. He lived and completed the full purpose of his life. We do not emerge from the storm with a shining certificate for good behaviour. Mostly we come out of it with a few scars, maybe even open wounds, but always holding the Hand that saved us from drowning.
Storms are fierce. We may falter and fail, but hell will not prevail. Victory is to keep the faith, not to be offended with God for the storm and walk out on the beach on the arm of your God.
I am sure we are all familiar with modern teambuilding strategies. One of these is a very high narrow bridge over which all partakers must walk. The walk is scary and each participant is fastened with a cable, held by supervisors on the ground.
It is not easy. The height is chosen to make it creepy. How will you know that the guy on the ground is strong enough to tighten the cable when you miss the step? They look far away and much to relaxed. Our brain gives us three options for a split second decision. Fight, freeze of flee.
One of the participants was overcome with fear in the middle of the bridge and took a very logical decision: freeze. He could not move forward and backward was even more terrifying. On the other side, one of the participants who had just finished the walk, turned around and walked to the frozen figure. He commanded him to look up into his eyes and take each step together. With his eyes away from the height and the narrow walkway, they walked in unison to complete the rest of the bridge. Fear did not prevail. It was beaten, even though he needed help. He completed the walkway, just in another way.
Where is your eye fixed? Are you looking at the waves and shy away from the wind? Take the hand of Jesus; hear his voice. You will walk in victory within the storm. The stumbling block will become the certain step of victory. It is faith and trust that grow deeper roots, that shape the victory.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, ‘Destroy!’ Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. (Deuteronomy 33:26-28)
When Jesus got into the boat, the storm calmed down. His presence is the solution.
He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. (Psalm 107:29)
And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:6)
The tabernacle is where the Ark of the Covenant is, the symbol of God’s presence.
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing. (Psalm 23:5)
In closing – who is this Jesus? What is his name?
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)
The Hebrew for SAVE is yasha with a deeper meaning to loosen, or to open wide. It is the word for God’s reaction to all our needs. He gave his Son the name – Yeshua– He saves.
It says it all. All you need is in his NAME.