One of my favorite Bible Stories as a young boy was the story of Peter walking on the water. I have heard many versions of this story over the years, all of them revealing the courage of Peter and the Mercy of Jesus. Recently however, the Holy Spirit has centered my focus on a new and revealing side of this story, at least new and revealing to me.
It amazes me how much wisdom can be found in every page of the Bible, and how the Holy Spirit uses scripture to teach, encourage, and strengthen God’s people at just the right moment! As I have struggled the past few years to find a way to encourage those who have committed themselves to a ministry that ended without producing what they had expected, this story of Peter walking on the stormy water is one example of this for me.
When Peter asked Jesus to call him out of the boat and into the water, he knew very well that he could soon be drowning in a raging sea. Some say that Peter only stepped out because he had faith that no harm would come to him. I believe if he had that kind of unwavering faith, he wouldn’t have needed to be pulled back into the boat. It is more likely that Peter, although unaware, was becoming a living example of Ministry for generations to follow. When Peter said; … “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28 MSG), he was making a sacrifice that so many in ministry have made, and continue to make today. In a way Peter, having a full understanding of the risk, was saying; “Lord, if you call me, I will come to you. I hope I will make it, I know you can help me do it, but if I make it or not, if you call me, I will go.”
Many who are called into various ministries answered that call knowing that like Peter they faced extreme odds. They could see the seas raging around them and battled overwhelming fear just as those disciples faced when they saw Jesus walking by on the water. I don’t know for certain how many people were in that boat but only one man (Peter) cried out to Jesus and said, “Call me.”
As Peter climbed out of that boat, his fate may have seemed uncertain, but it no longer mattered. Peter only wanted to be obedient and show his heart for Jesus. The moment his leg went over the side of that boat, it changed his destiny! It was less than two chapters later when Jesus declared to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “ Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
When Peter stepped out of the boat knowing quite well that he was risking everything, Jesus must have thought, ‘I have found my man!’
A true servant’s heart seeks only to be close to and obey Christ. When a True Servant hears the Master bid them to step out, they will quite likely see the obstacles and they will certainly battle the fear of the circumstances, but in that moment it simply doesn’t matter. No matter the level of difficulty, win or lose, live or die, Lord, I will go!
It’s heartbreaking to watch good men and women enter some form of ministry and it looks like they are overcoming the odds, but suddenly they must reach for a hand to pull them ‘back in the boat.’ Many will never try again. Many will spend the rest of their lives believing they failed and blame themselves for it. The enemy will work tirelessly to blind them from this amazing truth: what may look like a failure was actually their defining moment of great victory! Just like Peter.
We must remember that our desire and willingness to step out at the Masters bidding is far more beautiful to God than our achievements.
Stop lamenting over the times you didn’t make it and understand that your obedience and willingness to serve at any cost, not your excellent skills, provided you an opportunity to become a Rock!