New International Version (NIV)
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
In the first verse of this event, the apostles react in fear and cry out as they see this “ghost” like figure walking toward them on the water.
What they are witnessing is foreign and frightening to them. These men are not accustomed to seeing such bazaar things. In their little corner of the world people don't just walk on water. This is something completely out of the ordinary, something unexplainable. It causes them to be afraid and unable to accept or understand what is taking place right before their eyes.
Isn't that like us in our little world? I don't know how many times I have heard someone say "that's not God"! Or "God wouldn't do that"!
We presume to know what God will or will not do in our prideful arrogance. We act like God cannot do the impossible. We’ve read about miracles the Lord has done in His word, we’ve experienced many unexplainable things in our spiritual walk and yet we have preconceived ideas as to how God will work.
The Lord understands that these men have a finite and limited view of things and in His compassion, He immediately says to them “do not be afraid, it is me". Notice though that He offers no explanation for what they just saw. For an all-powerful and omnipotent God, walking on water is not unusual behavior. God expects us to move in the same way and with the same attitude of the unusual to be our “usual.
We, like the apostles, limit ourselves and we limit God. God is huge and He can and will do huge things.
Peter, the risk taker not only believes that Jesus, God incarnate can do all things even walk on water, he believes that with God’s help and power he can also walk on water. So when he asks Jesus to call him out, it is the same as when we ask God to use us or call us out into ministry. When Peter asks Jesus to, “Tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says “come” and without hesitation or checking to see if he was ready to do this, Peter stepped in faith with all abandon, believing that he didn’t have to be ready, only willing.
Too many times we ask for a direction almost in passing. We already have our plans in order and our minds made up, but oh yes, we must ask God. Peter asked and listened. When Jesus said "come" He was giving Peter permission to explore his freedom in the spirit realm; to jump out of his mundane circumstances and to do the impossible.
Like a child, Peter believed and went for it. But what happened? Peter starts looking around him at the physical circumstances, He sees the wind’s force stirring up the waters and he begins looking at the situation with his eyes on himself. Don’t we do the same thing? Our wind and waves are the nay Sayers; or doubters; and we start believing these negative reports. And suddenly we question if God even sent us out
We start out with childlike faith but as the excitement of our new adventure is replaced with the everyday tasks at hand, we take our focus off of Jesus and unto our circumstances. That is when we begin drowning emotionally.
But even in this, there is hope, because God still is so willing to reach into our messes and take us "out of the mire". He sees our potential and wants us to reach it. He grabs Peter immediately and rescues him out of the water. There was no reason to wait for hours or days or months. Peter needed immediate rescuing. In that moment Peter was given the opportunity to see his weakness and learn from it.
God already knows the weakness is there, He is just waiting for us to see it. Notice this is the second time the word “immediately” is written. God doesn’t just sit back and watch us drown, He responds immediately. The apostles had their ears open to the voice of the Lord so they could hear Him speaking peace over them and Peter, sinking fast, cried out only to His God. He didn’t ask the others in the boat to take his hand and pull him up. He knew that only God would be able to save him.
For Peter that "immediately" was within seconds, but for us, sometimes the "immediately" could be hours, days, months even years. We walk in fear, depression and impatience. We think God is taking His time, but He’s waiting for that shift within us so that we are only crying out to God and believing He can and will save us. If He rescued Peter out of his situation at the exact timing Peter needed saving, than we are no different. Peter was not the exception; He was the rule and so are we.
My challenge: When you know that God is speaking to you about a certain act of obedience, take the risk and obey. Step out of your boat.