I have heard said that the most effective way to learn a lesson is by making a mistake … but it is often quite a painful experience … which may be why it is effective. But, the Bible is full of lessons that we can learn through others. Peter, who is one of Jesus’ closest friends, could be described as a one of those people that has endless sources of how not to do stuff. He appears to be the one that often gets it wrong.
I am grateful for Peter’s mistakes … but I am more grateful for his courage.
I am so glad that GOD chose Peter. He was a very real guy with a very real character and real flaws. I have learnt and continue to learn a lot from Peter!
We pick up the story in Matthew 14. The disciples are in the boat on a windy night. The waves, I imagine, are growing. Jesus, who had sent them to the other side while he dismissed the crowd, had taken some time out and gone up the mountain to pray. At this point, no one asks how Jesus will join them later! Shortly before dawn (I love these little details – this means that all night the disciples were trying to get to the other side), Jesus comes out to them walking on the water.
Then Peter, being himself and full of boldness requests something incredible. He asks Jesus to call him out onto the water. Let’s just stop here for a moment. What on earth made him ask such a bizarre thing? What was he thinking?! He saw Jesus. That is all that had happened. He saw his friend, not just as a friend but as one who could do more ridiculous things than feed thousands with a packed lunch, this man that he saw was something else altogether. Peter’s faith in Jesus was so off the scale that he had no problem in asking the impossible. Peter did not wait for Jesus to suggest that walking on water would be fun and he does not wait for the right conditions for the water to be still.
Jesus responds positively and doesn’t tell him off for being too bold and stepping out of line. When Jesus calls Peter out … there is no fear and only stepping out and walking on the water.
It is when Peter sees the wind and waves that he begins to sink and cries out to be saved. He has taken his eyes off Jesus. All it takes is a cry of help and immediately Jesus reaches out his hand and catches him. But since they are not at the boat, I assume that they then walk together to the boat with the wind and waves still battering them. It is only when they get back to the boat that the wind and waves die down.
I am reminded that sometimes when I am enthusiastic and full of faith I want GOD to call me out into the unknown, I want to suggest things to Him. I think GOD wants me to ask the impossible of Him. He loves it when I am inspired by looking at Him. I have noticed that suggesting something to GOD that will glorify Him doesn’t mean I am relegated to the back … I am finding that He celebrates it.
The thing is, no matter much I want to learn from Peter’s mistakes I know that I suffer with similar problems. I can be quickly overcome with fear or doubt when I step out if I focus on the storm around me rather than Him. Fear that I will mess up or not do it right, doubt that I should have suggested such a thing in the first place.
It is an astounding comfort that when I begin to sink and I yell for help, the hands that flung stars into space immediately reach out and catch me. I am in the safest hands in the entire universe.
It is an act of love that the storm is not calmed in that moment. Love drives out all fear and that doesn’t always look like the thing we expect. He wants me to learn more than just being rescued, He wants me to understand what being in relationship is all about. He will walk with me in that storm ensuring that I do not sink. His steadfast presence shows me that those fears and doubts have no power when the creator of all things is holding my hand, being my guide and leading my steps. His being near is far more powerful than the thing that had threatened me and stopped me from reaching the shore.