Read Matthew 14:22-33
Sometimes things just seem to be going right. Everything is hitting on all cylinders. All of the pieces fall into place. You have smooth seas and following winds.
Use your favorite figurative language to describe it, but we are talking about those times when everything just seems perfect.
What do we do in those cases when everything is just running as smooth as silk?
The correct response for church folk is that we give thanks to God, of course.
The more honest answer might be that we wonder when the sky will come falling down.
This is too good to be true. I am just waiting for the other shoe to fall.
I just know a meteor is going to fall out of the sky and hit me in the head.
A tornado is going to take everything I have.
It was a good run while it lasted.
We as Christians should not expect to walk the primrose path for the rest of our days on earth, but we also don’t need to go to the other extreme.
We should be the last people on the planet to become fatalistic.
Sometimes we live as if nothing fails like success. Nothing fails like success.
Things are working well for us and we wonder when the bottom is going to fall out of our good fortune.
Why do we doubt ourselves so much?
Let’s start in baseball.
Nobody goes 100 for 100. If you get a hit 5 out of 10 times in high school ball, that’s pretty good. Let’s go with 4 out of 10 in college and even 3 out of 10 in the majors.
Our expectations are that 3 out of 10 is pretty good at most levels of baseball and worth a million dollar contract as a professional.
Let’s look at school. Nobody scores 100% on every test. In most cases, we feel as good at scoring at 95% correct as we do 100%.
If your goal is just to pass, then 70% is smooth sailing.
If you pass your driving test that is all you care about. You don’t care if you were perfect or only passed by 1/100th of a point. I don’t care how many things I got wrong. Did I get enough right to be licensed to legally scare the daylights out of all of the other people on the road.
We grow up expecting a lot of failure in our lives. There is nothing wrong with a little failure. If you never failed at anything then you probably never put the limits of your knowledge, skills, and abilities to the test.
You probably never left your comfort zone.
You never experienced true growth.
There is nothing wrong with falling short. That’s what happens when one’s reach exceeds his grasp.
Failure is one thing. Doubt is another.
Do you think that you will ace your final?
I doubt it.
Hadn’t been to class all year.
Some doubt is understandable.
Do you think you will win the $500,000,000 lottery?
I doubt it?
Why? Because the odds are like a bazillion to one?
No. I just didn’t buy a ticket.
There is the story of Pastor Fred who is out golfing by himself one day. No it is not a Sunday morning so this is not the one where he gets a hole in one.
Pastor Fred comes up to hole number 2. It is a straight away par 4 with a water hazard to the direct front.
Fred takes his new Pinnacle 1 and puts it back in his bag and pulls out a practice ball. He tees it up but before he can even take a practice swing a voice from above greets him.
Why did you put your good ball back in the bag and take out that old one?
There is water ahead of me on this hole.
Can’t you drive it across?
I doubt it.
Fred. You are a pastor, a shepherd of many people. Why do you doubt?
You’re right. I will hit my best golf ball and clear the hazard.
Confidently, Fred puts his Pinnacle 1 on the tee and steps back for a practice swing. It is an ugly swing. The voice from above returns.
Better get out the old ball.
Sometimes we have reason for our doubt. We didn’t study or practice or we stayed out too late or dozens of other reasons as to why we doubt that we will be at our best today.
But what about when we are following Jesus?
Put yourself in Peter’s shoes for the moment. Once you are in his shoes then take off his shoes and step out onto the water.
Do what none of the other disciples dared do. Step out into the water and start walking towards the Master.
That’s what this gospel says. Peter got down out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus.
Peter had asked for this. He said, “Lord if it is really you, then tell me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus said, “Come.”
And just like that Peter is walking on water. He is walking to his Master. This is incredible. I would have loved to have seen the looks on the faces of the other disciples.
But it didn’t matter. Peter did not walk on water because the water was calm. If it only took calm water, I would have already done this a few dozen times. I have been on some rough seas and I have been on a sea of glass.
Peter walked because he believed. He did not doubt. He stepped out in faith. He did not doubt.
Well, that is, he did not doubt until he did doubt.
The sea state did not change while Peter took his aquatic stroll, but his focus did.
When he saw and obeyed his Master, he walked on water.
When he saw the storm and knew that he could not do what he was doing, he began to sink.
Peter cried out, “Lord save me.”
We would have done the same, probably right after we said, “Lord, forgive me. Those words just slipped out.”
I’m guessing that we might have let loose with something we tell our kids not to say.
In an instant Peter went from doing what could not be done to being a hand’s grip away from being fish food.
Jesus said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Jesus and Peter got in the boat, the storm stopped, and the disciples worshiped Jesus.
We study this story and wonder, if Peter couldn’t stay afloat, how can we?
If Peter doubted, why should I expect more from myself?
Jesus called Peter the Rock. Maybe that’s why he was sinking, but he called him out on having little faith.
And in the boat, the disciples professed, “Surely you are the Son of God.”
These same disciples would later be scattered and scared when their Master was tortured and killed.
These same disciples would later take the good news of the risen Christ to the world performing miracles of their own along the way.
What a difference a little faith makes.
Faith the size of a mustard seed is the difference between sinking and moving mountains.
Jesus said with just this tiny bit of faith, nothing will be impossible for us.
Peter walked on water. He did it. It didn’t last but he did it.
Oh what a little faith will do.
Today, we see so many storms in this crazy world that few even think about stepping out of the boat.
We see the storms of our day:
· Global warming or global cooling depending on the year
· Nuclear proliferation
· Miley Cyrus
Some of the storms of this age are still actually storms.
The question for us remains, “Are the storms bigger than our faith?”
What rules in our lives?
Storms or faith?
Do we perceive the storms or the waves or the troubles of the day to be greater than the faith we have been given?
When Jesus got in the boat the storm stopped but when Jesus called Peter out of the boat, the storm was still kicking up some good waves.
Peter had the faith to step out of the boat. This was before the resurrected Lord ascended into heaven and disciples received the Holy Spirit.
This was just Peter and faith. His eyes were on the Master and he was walking on water.
Today we still call out to Jesus to save us because we think we are drowning. The problem is that we are crying out for help and we never got out of the boat.
Too often we want to say we follow Jesus but we have a death grip on the boat.
“I’m not going in that water!”
How so? What modern day parallels apply here?
There is the tithe. I can’t afford to trust God with 10% of my money. I know it is all his, but I don’t think I can make it if I tithe. I will just stay here in the boat and ask Jesus to save me.
There is our witness.
This country is going to hell in a hand basket. We used to be a Christian nation.
So, why don’t we lead people to Christ in the here and now where it is most needed?
I can’t do that. It is out of my comfort zone.
There is our discipleship.
OK, but first let me get my life in order. First let me pay some bills. First let me go bury my father.
Love the unlovable.
That’s sticky business. There are too many risks these days.
Are we so afraid to get out of the boat?
Do we have so little faith?
Can we not even muster a mustard seed’s worth of faith and take a step towards our Master?
We can and we have. What we have forgotten to do is testify as to how God has responded to our steps of faith.
We have testimonies. We need to share them or all that we will see and hear and believe is what the world wants us to see and hear and believe.
The god of this age continues to blind unbelievers but the God of all creation has called us to step out in faith for we are not blind.
The world wants us to doubt but we believe.
God is for us so I don’t give a hoot in hell who is against us.
We want no part of the doubt that the world is trying to sell. Peter stepped out of the boat while the waves were crashing all around him and he walked on water.
But he got fixated on the storm. Yes, but he walked on water.
He took those first steps of faith in the storm.
Let us take our first steps and just keep on stepping.
Let us be a part of a thicket of mustard plants instead of keeping our seeds dry for some day when we might plant them.
God has blessed us with gifts, talents, abilities that mixed with some knowledge and skill and wisdom have incredible potential.
But it remains potential until we add faith.
It all remains in the world of could have been until we step out in faith.
Is life not so much better having walked a few steps on top of the water than to have stayed in the boat and never even tried.
We are designed to live by faith.
We must walk by faith on land or sea.
Step out of the boat this week despite the storm. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith.
Get out of the boat and start walking. He will save you if you fall.