What Does It Mean to Long for Jesus with Faith? [Peter and Faith, part 2]

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When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said. (Matthew 14:26-29a)

If we recognize that the wind and waves is a normal part of life in which faith grows, what does it mean to see and desire Jesus amidst the waves?

To see Jesus means we have to be looking for Him. When the waves whip up around the disciples they are overwhelmed by their circumstances. It is no surprise that they are terrified when they see Jesus walking upon the waves. It is, of course, because they do not expect Him to be capable of such a thing, but it is secondarily because they were not looking for Him at this moment. We all have had those moments when we are startled by someone or something because we did not expect them and were not looking for them. The eyes of faith, however, are constantly on the lookout for Jesus. We have our eyes open to find Him at all times. Like Daniel’s three friends thrown into the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3), we find that even the most pressing and distressing circumstances are still those in which the Living God shows up in our midst. The eyes of faith look for and expect that Jesus will stand in unexpected places, even in the midst of the waves of our lives.

Now it is one thing to see Jesus, but another entirely to desire Jesus with fervency and boldness. I always find it surprising that people criticize Peter for faltering in this story. I find this surprising because Peter is the only bold enough to try and join Jesus outside the boat. Why do we not criticize the other disciples? Because they were doing what is deemed as normal. Peter first of all takes Jesus at His word, that it is truly Jesus—and not a ghost—upon the waves. Seeing that it is Jesus, He is risky enough to ask to join Jesus amidst this wild walk of faith.

Living faith desires Jesus so strongly that it is willing to ask boldly of Jesus and step out wildly with Jesus amidst the waves and wind. What about us? Are we looking for Jesus amidst the wind and the waves, expecting Him to show up in our lives? And when He does show up, do we desire Him so greatly that faith rises up over fear to lead us into the walk of faith?

How Do We Face the Waves that Surround Us? [Peter and Faith, part 1]

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“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:28-30)

When this brief episode out of the life of Jesus and the life of Peter takes place, it is surrounded by waves of challenge.

There are the waves of people (Matthew 14:20-22), who are pressing in around Jesus and those who wanted to make Him king. There are the waves of emotions (14:22-23) brought about by various pressures. The disciples felt the pressure of an extensive day of ministry, all while not fully understanding Jesus and His ministry. There are the pressures on Jesus to become king and to follow a human pathway to Messiah-ship. This is so strong that Jesus draws away with the Father in prayer. There are the real, natural waves of the natural world (14:24) embodied by the physical wind and waves that beat the boat, creating a threatening the situation.

In the midst of all these waves, it is vitally important to keep one thing in focus:  the waves – the challenges we face – are a normal part of life. 

So many of us are waiting for a magical “someday” when there will be no waves. We all can do this. We all have the tendency to wait for a day when everything is calm, everything is peaceful, or at least when everything feels “normal,” whatever that means. When that normal day comes, many of us say, we will do what is necessary to follow Christ or take a step of faith.

However, the very setting of the story tells us that waves are normal. The various challenges that Jesus and the disciples faced—of people and relationships, of emotions and pressures, of the natural things that happen in the physical order—these waves are the normal setting in which real faith rises up.

So, too, in our lives we need to recognize the normal waves of our life as the place where true faith is birthed and nurtured. We should not wait for some magical “someday” where suddenly all will be suddenly peaceful to grow in our faith.  Someday will not come because it does not exist. We need to allow the waves to be the setting in which we take our steps of faith.