One of the interesting pictures of moving from fear to faith and then back to fear is found in the biblical account of Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee. Remember the account in the 14th chapter of Matthew’s gospel where Jesus sends the disciples to the other side of the lake while He stays behind to pray. As the disciples are crossing the lake, a storm comes up. Sometime between 3-6 AM during this storm we read these words “And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying “It is a ghost!” And the cried out for fear. (v. 25, 26 NASB). The 2 Greek words that are emphasized in this text are “ghost” and “fear”. One of the disciples who was frightened was Peter. He had never seen anyone walking on the Sea of Galilee and it certainly doesn’t make sense logically. The only right human response would be fear.
But look what happens next, “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” and Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to You on the water”. And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (v.27-29 NASB). Jesus is always looking for those who will get out of the boat of security and fear and walk with Him in the midst of the storms. Jesus doesn’t always remove the source of our fears but He can give us the faith and trust to walk with Him in life’s storms. Peter, in keeping with his impetuous, impulsive nature, gets out of the boat and starts walking to Jesus. I admire Peter’s amazing courage and faith. Maybe his request to Jesus reflects a certain level of ambition and overconfidence but it also demonstrates willingness to try something different. And he actually begins to walk on the water in an amazing demonstration of what it means to move from fear to faith.
But then something happens that moves Peter back into the fear category. We read, “But seeing the wind, he cried out, saying “Lord, save me!” (v. 30 NASB). For just one brief, incredible moment Peter deified the laws of gravity by walking on the water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he could continue to walk in faith. But when he looked at the danger around him, instead of Jesus, he started to sink. He forgot the power of Christ that had allowed him to take those 1st amazing steps on the Sea of Galilee.
This is truly the greatest danger in the midst of the storms that sometimes overtake us when we take our eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ. The “but” in this passage is huge. In his hour of triumph, walking on the Sea of Galilee, he almost lost it all by not looking to Jesus. He forgot the power of Christ to work to any situation. That is an example of the best of believers who start out trusting God to do some work but maybe become caught up in the pursue of worldly goals and some storm suddenly disrupts their lives and they take their eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fortunately Jesus reached out and saved Peter as we read, “An immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him”, (v. 31a NASB). Jesus’ strong and willing arms are still outstretched. The goodness of our Savior is beyond compare. When Christ meets us in the midst of our storms, we will be able to rise about them as we keep our eyes focused on the one who “came to seek and to save that which was lost”. As we move from fear to faith in this coming week, let us make sure we are keeping our eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, not life’s circumstances or storms.