"But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matthew 14:30, NKJV).
That first part seems like a bit of an understatement. Panic might be more accurate. Peter had taken only a few steps out of the boat on his way to Jesus, and then quickly lost his focus as the storm raged around him. What started out under his feet was threatening to overtake him entirely!
But let's not be too hard on Peter. After all, he was the only one who actually got out of the boat. Still, his failure of faith can teach us much about our own walk with God. I like the way this verse is rendered in The Message. It says that when Peter "looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink." How often have we been just like Peter? Daring to step out "where feet may fail," as the popular song "Oceans" puts it, only to lose our nerve when we discover that the storm continues to rage all around us. Why didn't Jesus calm the storm earlier? Why wait until they had come back into the boat? Wouldn't it have been better to calm the storm sooner, so that Peter could more confidently traverse his watery walkway?
Jesus invites us to share in His victory over every storm; He doesn't simply smooth out the path for us. Peter's failure was not in his lack of buoyancy, but his lack of focus. He took his eyes off of Jesus, who had the storm firmly under His feet, and focused instead on the storm itself, until the strength of the storm seemed greater than the strength of his Lord.
You and I are going to face storms in this life. Sickness, stress, and suffering of all sorts churn around us like the wind and waves of a merciless tempest. Whether we stay afloat in these times will be determined by what, or rather Who, we focus on. With our eyes firmly and faithfully on Jesus, we will weather the storm. He will see to it, so that what threatens to pull you under becomes your pathway to peace. Instead of being over your head, it will remain under your feet. Just keep your eyes on Jesus; He'll take care of the rest.
Scripture for reflection and prayer:
"You enlarged my path under me; so my feet did not slip" (Psalm 18:36, NKJV).
"But he [Jesus] needed to go through Samaria" (John 4:4, NKJV).
It's easy to read John 4:4 above and think nothing of it. Jesus was on His way from Judea to Galilee, and so He naturally had to travel through Samaria to get there.
Or did He?
Geographically, Jesus could have taken at least two other routes, ways that would have allowed Him to avoid Samaria altogether, as most Jews did during that time. But Jesus not only chose the Samaritan route, the Scriptures suggest He was compelled to do so. He needed to. Based on the fact that He could have taken other routes, we can only surmise that Jesus felt compelled to go that way because it was the will of His Father. Elsewhere He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but [only] what He sees the Father do" (John 5:19). Anointed by the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38), Jesus went where He went and did what He did because He did "always those things which please the Father" (John 8:29).
For Jesus, the shortest distance between two points was the will of God. The same can be true for us. We take the "long way around" to arrive at our destination in life when we fail to follow His lead, to be mindful of His will, or to obey His command. Our heavenly Father really does know best. And just like Jesus, who was weary with His journey, but found strength in doing the will of God in that moment (John 4:34), we can be energized both physically and spiritually through our submission to God's wisdom and will. We simply need to trust His heart.
Next time you feel tempted to take the easy route, slow down and ask God to show you His way. He may just have a divine appointment for you, so that He may reveal His power, strength, and salvation to the most unlikely of people around you. You'll be glad you did, and He will provide "meat to eat" that the world knows not of.
Scripture for reflection and prayer:
"Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name" (Psalm 86:11, NIV).