The fun part of summer for a lot of people is knowing they can escape the restrictions of the land and get out on the water. They can bask in the sun, do a little fishing, spend time on a beach, or sail away and leave the world behind. It’s pretty glorious when the sun is shining, and the winds are favorable. Of course, ocean waves and large lakes can change quickly. At first, the hurrying waves don’t cause any alarms, but then when the skies cast heavy shadows and the waters become choppier, the bliss disappears with every lightning bolt. Thunder breaks in and since the boat is a whole lot smaller than the surrounding waves without a landscape, the whole scene sends a chill up your spine. 

Let’s stick with this scene as we consider the story in Matthew 14 of Peter and his friends as they began to cross the Sea of Galilee. It was the fourth watch of the night, meaning it was somewhere between three a.m. and six a.m. The boat was bouncing across the waves, disregarding the intent of the sailors to keep their oars in the water. They were alarmed, frightened even as they battled the winds and the waves. The Bible says that Jesus saw their struggle and decided to go to them and calm their fears. Whether He saw them literally or in His mind’s eye isn’t clear. So, what does He do? He heads into the storm walking boldly across the waves. The frightened sailors see Him and imagine He is a ghost, which only makes them more afraid. Jesus tells them to stay calm because He is there. He is with them. So, what happens?

In the midst of all this chaos, Peter is stunned that Jesus can walk on the water, but believing that anything is possible with Jesus, Peter boldly asks if he can get out of the boat and walk on the water too. Jesus assures him that he can. Now, here’s the amazing part. The boat is still rocking, the winds are still howling, but Peter doesn’t notice. He gets out of the boat. Okay, now stop here a moment. You are in a crazy storm, you fear for your life, wonder if you’ll capsize, but then along comes Jesus and because He says it’s okay to get out of the boat, you do. Wowzer! Imagine having that kind of faith. 

I know we usually read this verse and wonder why Peter took a couple of good steps and then started sinking. One minute, he was totally trusting Jesus, and the next minute he was distracted by the storm all around him. Distraction caused him to sink.

I think Peter was awesome because he got out of the boat in the first place. It’s hard to imagine making that choice in the midst of a crazy storm. Maybe, just maybe I could imagine making that choice on a sunny, calm day, but even then, I can’t be sure. So, let’s remember that the beauty of having great faith is that no matter how often you become distracted, you can still reach out to God, who encourages your faith in any storm and will rescue you. Jesus calmed the storm, removed the distraction, and brought peace to the situation. When you get distracted and feel like you might sink, He’ll help you too. 

What will it take to get you out of the boat?