A Fragile Stone: pg. 54-56
"The Fearless Water Walker"
October 2nd, 2019
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and cried out in fear.
Immediately Jesus spoke to them. "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's You," Peter answered Him, "command me to come to You on the water."
"Come!" He said.
And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out His had, caught hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, "Truly You are the Son of God!"
There is one more striking difference between Peter's account of this story and Matthew's, an amazing exclusion. In Mark, Peter makes no mention whatsoever of his walking on the water. Before I began seeking to understand his heart, I would have thought the reason for the omission was his failure. He had begun to sink. I believed the absence of the story in his account was an indication of his immaturity and pride. Now that he has begun to come into focus for me, now that I have looked at the whole of his life and have begun to see who he became, I believe Peter left out the story not because he sank but because he walked. It was not pride but humility that kept him from mentioning his miraculous though interrupted feat.
The story is a real-life parable of the cycle of faith. We all walk sometimes and sink sometimes as well. We all cry out, "Go away from me, I'm a sinful person!" and in the next breath shout, "Come and save me!" Most of all, we all struggle with the perceived realities of the fallen world over against the unseen certainty of the kingdom.
Peter, after all, is a realist. He is you and me, at our best and at our worst. And that is why we love him like we do, at least when we finally take the time to know him. Jesus will never condemn Peter, or us, for looking at reality. The waves and the wind are real. The smell coming from Lazarus' tomb is real. When I look at the world I will always have reason to doubt. Gravity, cancer, poverty - they are all real. But Jesus continually calls to Peter - and to you and me - to look somehow beyond all that , to a new reality where walking on the water is also real, and feeding thousands of people with a few crumbs, and rising from the dead. And we are never to doubt this impossible new reality, even as we are taking part in it.
The world that Peter and you and I are being called to exit has a million confusing faces: our fragile health, hunger, our fallen situation, the aching loneliness of the world. The world Jesus calls us into has but one focus: him! When Peter looks only at the face of Jesus, he begins to rise toward that new world, the world of the kingdom.
There is one certain way to know if you've had a brush with that other impossible new world. You will find yourself doing what the disciples did when they got Jesus back into their boat: you will find yourself worshiping him. Worship is the language of our new reality. But we must never forget that it always begins with a cry for help. It always begins that way. It ends when we find ourselves doing the unreal and impossible, when we discover that we, if even for a moment, have risen above the noise of the wind and the confusion of the waves. We find in the darkness a Face. We discover in the tumult a Hand. And we worship him for it all.