But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. (Matthew 14:30)
Ever have one of those moments?
Oh, today I’m there. No question.
This verse is a pivotal moment in the recounting of Jesus walking on the water and Peter coming out to meet Him.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about what led up to this event.
- The disciples were sent our two-by-two and commissioned to teach about Jesus, heal the sick and cast out demons. (Matthew 10)
- John the Baptist had just been killed (Matthew 11; 14:1-12)
- Once everyone was back Jesus and the 12 were going to get away for some much needed R&R but the crowds caught wind of it and followed them (Matthew 14:13)
- Jesus fed about 15000 with a poor boy’s lunch of a couple of dinner rolls and a few sardines. (Matthew 14:13-21)
Immediately after feeding the masses, “Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake” (vs 22) while Jesus stayed behind to send the people home and take time alone to pray.
Imagine what the disciples were thinking, talking about, and pondering after this monumental event. 5000 men fed, plus their wives and families! All with a snack not large enough to fill a grown man. AMAZING! Then, after everyone was stuffed, they gathered the leftovers. Now those 12 baskets full of scraps of uneaten food were sitting at their feet on the deck of the boat. Evidence of what they had witnessed. Evidence none of them could deny. The awe! The wonder! How they must have marveled!
How we still do!
Have you ever had a moment like this—you’ve
- Heard God’s voice.
- Felt the presence of His Spirit.
- Gotten clear direction.
- Experienced your own miracle.
- Been blessed more than you could have ever imagined
Whatever your experience, you knew you’d been in the presence of the Almighty. Tread on Holy Ground.
Some call this a Mountain-Top experience. A Spiritual High. Regardless, you feel invincible! It’s you and Jesus and you have nothing but energy, excitement, determination, and high hopes. You feel and believe anything is possible. (That was me last July.)
But then night falls and the dark closes in.
The wind picks up and rapidly intensifies.
The waves begin to roll. And grow. And build. Instead of just slamming the outside of the boat they’re threatening to crest over the gunwales.
In other words, life gets real.
Back to the disciples.
These men were exhausted. Bone weary. First from going out two-by-two then from having 15000 for dinner. Now they’re fighting for their lives in the middle of the night as they battle a storm a long way from shore on a large deep lake. Their adrenaline is running at capacity.
And then they “see a ghost.”
Have you ever been so afraid your throat closed off and your body runs cold and freezes? I imagine that’s what they were feeling before their tongues were loosened.
Then they hear His voice. Above the wind and the waves, The Master calls. “Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!” (vs 27) (Or The ‘I Am’ is here; Greek reads I am. See Exod 3:14).
But wait. Was that really Him? Could that really have been Jesus’s voice? No way! We left him on the other shore. But maybe…Or maybe we just want it to be Him so He can save us again. (Matthew 8:23-27)
When I picture this entire event happening, I see one of those baskets rolling across the deck of the boat and crashing into Peter’s leg or him tripping over one as he tries to see “the ghost.” Then as he looks down, it all comes home for him. Like a video fast forwarding through to the current scene he sees it all—the miracles, the ministry, the teaching, Jesus silencing the storm a while back, the 15000 fed, the leftovers, the…
Jesus’ voice echoed in Peter’s heart. “Don’t be afraid. Take courage.”
Suddenly bolstered by all he’d seen and experienced as His follower, Peter called out, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” (vs 28)
“Yes, come,” Jesus said. (vs 29a)
And Peter did.
Friend, may I get real with you a moment. I could be Peter in this story.
If you’ve followed me for a few months, you know my story of God’s calling me to write—and my immediate rejection of that call.
- You know God wouldn’t let it go and pursued me until I surrendered.
- You know my aversion to publishing and how God changed my mind by planing a dream, a desire in my heart.
- You know how I’ve been to the Northwestern Christian Writer’s Conference twice and this last time was asked to submit my book proposal.
- You also know it was rejected on the grounds of “not a big enough platform.”
- You know my distaste for platform building
I hate the idea of platform building, and when I got my letter from Kathleen that is when the terror filled me. That’s when “I saw the ghost.” While I waited well for her letter, I knew the storm was kicking up around me. I could feel the fear and dread start to fill me. I knew my “weakest link” was a platform, but I was praying, hoping it wouldn’t matter. It did. And it does.
Self-promotion is gross to me. The idea and concept icks me out. But like Peter, I heard my Savior say, “Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!” And I started to remember at all He had done for me up to that point and said, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
And I went.
I asked God to change my view on platform building, took webinar classes, read lots of blogs and tutorials on How-To Build a Platform, and bought a few books—all from well-respected, knowledgeable, and successful Christian authors, writers, and agents. Then I started implementing those ideas.
It all sounds good, right? Exactly the way we are supposed to do it. Research. Learn. Implement.
I tried to be confident. Excited about what I was doing and learning. But I still felt gross inside. I kept telling myself is this part of the package. Love it or now.
Here was the problem, is the problem: This isn’t me! This isn’t what or who I am. To make matters worse I was overwhelmed but the things I was trying to implement and exhausted from the internal battle I’ve been fighting.
Then I lost 3 subscribers over a few weeks…
I was devastated. I felt like a failure.
And a fraud.
I knew I wasn’t being me…and I have a hunch my readers knew it too.
The waves clawed at me, demanded my attention…and I gave it to them, just like Peter, and I started to sink.
However, it took me a while to cry out to God. Stubborn, I know. I kept striving. Pushing. Trying. Working. All the time sinking lower and lower. I was determined to be determined to see it through.
Just before my head slipped below the surface, I called out for help.
“God, I don’t understand? I’m trying to accomplish what you’ve called me to do. I’m trying to jump through the hoops. I’m even willing to do the parts of this I don’t love. Why is this happening?”
Jesus immediately reached out, grabbed me, and pulled me up out of the water. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (vs 31) You keep trying to do this on your own. And when you do, you take your eyes off me and forget who I created you to be. When you rely more on other people’s knowledge and advice rather than my guidance and the gifts and strengths I gave you to use to accomplish my call on your life, you fall short and block my blessing on your efforts. Look at the baskets littering the boat deck, remember those are the leftovers…not the main meal. You are still trying to hand out crumbs.
As I begin to swing my leg over the side of the boat, to climb back in, there’s one important thing I want you to remember along with me about Peter’s experience—the wind and waves didn’t stop until AFTER he and Jesus were both on the boat. When Jesus rescued him, the wind was still screeching in his ears. And while they walked back to the boat (together I might add), the waves were still tearing at this clothes trying to drag him down.
But all while he walked back, walking on the surface of the deep, clinging to his Master’s hand—Peter had time to think and talk things out with his Lord.
And so did I.
I’m going to regroup a little. Pull back and see what I should be and need to be doing with my time and efforts. I need to be DILIGENT in what GOD has called me to do. I need to go back to what I’m best at. Serving you with love, kindness, and encouragement. The numbers are beyond me. They still matter. But they can’t be my focus anymore. I need to TRUST God and His timing. This is His project, after all, His calling.
Like Suzie Larson said in July, I feel like I’m David trying to wear Saul’s armor. And it’s just not working for me.
Also, My dear subscribers, you’re going to see a totally different newsletter from now on—with a devotional, with me being me and loving on you. I’m done with the wretched formulas I’ve been trying to implement and recreate.
What matters most to me is this:
- You’re edified in your faith
- You’re encouraged to read and study The Bible consistently
- You will KNOW the Vibrant Relevance of God’s Word in your daily life
- You will fall more in love with Jesus today than you did yesterday
- God’s Name is glorified.
Now, this brings me to you…
- Are you in the midst of a storm? Afraid. Unsure. Wondering if you are going to be pulled under?
- Or, is God calling you out among the waves? To step out in faith in a scary situation?
- Or have you stepped out, full of faith and confidence only to allow Satan’s whispers to distract you, to fill you with fear? And now you’re sinking.
Regardless of which scenario depicts you this season, keep in mind, Peter wasn’t chastised for being afraid but for doubting. Doubt is the root of fear and the enemy of faith.
Beloved, I invite you, encourage you…join me, with your knees on the ground next to mine, in crying out to our great God with the same desperate plea of the father of the demon possessed child…
“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
God sees you. He hears you. He’s waiting, listening for your voice to cry out. Let Him reach down and lift you up. Let Him remind you WHOSE you are and WHO you are. Invite Him to take the next step with you—and every one after that.
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