When your life feels, as if the waves want to toss you out of the boat, then walk upon the water… (Matthew 14: 22-23)
Imagine you are sitting in a boat, sailing across the water and suddenly mists begins to appear. The waves get higher and higher and you don’t see the land anymore. Very quickly you feel, that the situation is going to be uncontrollable. The waves are getting higher and higher, the fog blocks the view and you are about to get lost.
Maybe you haven’t experienced such a situation on the water. However, probably in your life there was a situation that you have perceived similar. Often our life in the western world is like a trip on a boat on calm water. We have no serious problem because nearly everything works out as imagined.
But there can also be stormy times, maybe so stormy, that in the storm wind of our life, we allow fear and panic to rule over our thoughts.
Well, now … first of all: if you are reading this, you are still alive … Maybe, right now, you are suffering because of a storm surge in your life or you still bear the burdens of the consequences.
Whatever it is – if you feel like that, in this moment probably nobody would trade with you for anything.
That was similar with the friends of Jesus (named disciples), as they went with the boat across the lake. Jesus was on a retreat and wanted to be alone. While crossing over the see a storm was approaching and they lost control of the boat.
Although in the boat were experienced fishermen, they started to fear – it was a serious situation. Because of the mist, there was no land in sight. The waves were high and around themselves they could only see water and they were disoriented.
Now, suddenly they saw a white, shimmery shape walking over the water in the direction of the boat.
“Oh no, not that: A spirit is walking directly to our boat.” Horrified of this demonic appearance they shouted their head off. Immediately they heard a voice calling: “Don’t fear! It is I!” They recognized the voice: It was Jesus. But they could not fully believe it. So Peter shouted: “Lord, if it is you, then command me to come to you over the water.”
That was not just a small request, like, for example in a surfing school, in a way: “Let me just try to walk a little bit upon the water and when it doesn’t work, I’ll paddle to my board or to the beach.” If the water would not carry Peter, he would have been driven away from the boat very fast and would have drowned. It was a life or death situation.
Jesus shouted: “Come!”, and Peter looked at Jesus, stepped with the first foot upon the water, his hands grabbed the edge of the boat. “Mmmh.” Yet he could stand. All the eyes of his friends in the boat were fixed on him. Then Peter put his second foot upon the water, he could still stand. He made his first step upon the water, looked at Jesus, then his second step, third and so on.
Suddenly his brain began to work. Peter was an experienced fisherman. He knew the weather conditions very well and precisely what could happen when such a storm raged. All at once thoughts crossed his mind: “What would be … if the water would not keep carrying me, … if I would sink into the water, … if a squall comes and I would lose balance … .” Peter looked around. He looked to the water, he looked back to the boat… . He lost the eye contact to Jesus and started to wonder: “Why in the world did I want to walk upon the water?” He was asking himself. “How could I be so lightheaded, not thinking about the consequences – I can even die.”
Peter lost the view to Jesus. And immediately he started to lose his footing and sank into the water.
In all probability Peter couldn’t swim and he shouted: “Help me, Jesus, save me!” Jesus took his hand and pulled Peter out of the water. At that moment the sea calmed down and the whistling of the wind stopped. All were safe in the boat.
The others in the boat were deeply impressed with Peter. “He went some steps upon the water! Actually for that he had risked his life. What kind of a man.” Then they looked at Jesus. Friendly Jesus nudged Peter and said: “You of little faith – why didn’t you believe? If you only would have had little faith, you would have stayed upon the water. For lack of that you sank. Have faith!”
Walking upon the water was nothing for Jesus. For those who expect the water to carry them, despite the laws of nature, he offers even greater things. His friends could have believed. A short time before Jesus had taught them supernatural provision: With five loaves of bread and two fishes they fed 5000 people and there were leftovers (Matt 14, 13-21). Actually with this they should have realized, that all things are possible with God.
When Jesus called out to them: “Fear not, I AM”, he revealed himself as YAHWEH, God. He is the God of Israel that revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush, that led his people out of Egypt with signs and wonders and that has revealed himself as caring and loving. “I AM” – that also means: “I WILL BE” or: “I WAS” – all time frames together. Actually that means: No time: Eternity. “I AM” is God, that forever was, that exists now, that will be there for all mankind. In the original text it is not stated: “It’s me”, rather it is stated: “I AM”. With this statement Jesus reveals himself as God, that has made a covenant with his people. Covenant means, that he stands by his people and by no means does he leave his people alone, even when they separate themselves from him: HE remains near. HE is – God, HE, who spoke in the beginning: “Let there be light.” HE, who created this world. HE rules also over the laws of nature, that HE has made.
While Jesus reveals himself as God, HE shows that HE is the word, that now has become a human being. HE has the power to talk and it is done. (Jesus as the word: look at the gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 14). Now he who has accepted Jesus in his life, has the word in him. Referring to Jesus, he can speak the word with authority and it is done. In Christ his authority is transferred to us. (Eph 1: 19-23).
The boat in our story stands for the life circumstances in the physical realm. It means our life in time and space. It stands for our supposed securities that we rely on. But we have no guaranties that all our well thought and built up securities will never be shaken. The truth is, in the physical realm there is nothing for anybody really secure.
Maybe you have just made a decision to start something new. That is a step of faith – whether with or without God. You just started on this new path and suddenly the ifs and buts are crossing your mind. And maybe you throw your hands up in despair. Maybe you start to doubt if you ever can succeed on this new path.
Maybe your faith in Jesus is likewise to his friends in the boat, which thought fearfully it was a Ghost walking towards them on the water, although it was Jesus. And like them you can’t believe that truly Jesus can walk upon the water. And Jesus calls out to you: “Fear not!!! I AM!”
God calls out to you: “I exist, when you trust me, you pass the storm tide! I AM!” When you find yourself in such a situation, where everything has come to pass, what you did not wish for: “I AM!” Maybe also things have happened, that you never new of their existence. And Jesus says: “Fear not: I AM!”
Faith is to expect a hot-air balloon to ascend even when there is no gas in the burner to heat the air in the balloon. Faith is, like Peter, to walk upon the water. Faith means that you expect more to be able to walk upon the water as to expect that you sink.
The word of God is more real than our reality in time and space. Who trusts the word of God more than the circumstances he has in his sight will not let the circumstances rule over him.
Looking on Jesus we discover, how he is supernaturally leading our lives and is even able to overcome laws of nature. He who trusts in Jesus can accomplish anything. His truth exceeds all natural laws. Jesus wants everybody to live in his purpose. He has set a dream in the heart of every man. He wants everybody to discover it and live it.
The word of Jesus stands over the natural laws. He who feels called by him gets himself into the adventure of faith. He will walk towards Jesus upon the water, like Peter. He who believes in Jesus will experience signs and wonders on his way. He can only be a winner.
Lord Jesus Christ, please forgive me for in many situations I was not really trusting you. Please increase my faith, that your word becomes more and more real to me, than the laws of nature. Thank you that you give me confidence that you are more reliable than the things I experience naturally. I confess and proclaim: Your kingdom is more real and mighty than physical forces are. Please pursue me in your reality and let me know to which power you have called me and to which glory you have invited me.
Thank you, that you are the word that carries my life completely, also when sometimes it doesn’t seem so. Thank you that you give me unshakable faith in you.
(c) Steffen Bürger
Thanks for proofreading by Sarah Nafula