“‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.” Matthew 14:29

I want to paint a picture for you. Imagine a terrifying storm: rain, dark clouds, thunder, and waves crashing over the edges of your boat. Now imagine Jesus standing in the middle of this storm asking you to come to Him. When I close my eyes and try to picture what Peter saw and what he must have felt, it is pretty overwhelming.

One of my favorite Bible verses is found in 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” I love this verse. I love quoting it and speaking it over my life. And I strive to have faith like Esther and Mary who boldly chose to trust God even when it was difficult. I love trusting boldly until I am in the middle of my own storm and I find myself at the edge of my boat.

I will be the first to admit that I am a huge worry wart. I tend to get caught up in my own head. I allow my fear and anxieties to run rampant until I am drowning in an ocean of hypothetical scenarios. The funny, sad, and ironic thing about these scenarios is that I am in the all alone — desperately trying, and failing, to overcome this obstacle, mountain, or storm through my own strength. I praise God because no matter how many times I crown anxiety king of my heart, God is right there beside me, taking my hand and gently reminding me to, “Be still and know that He is God.” When I make the conscious decision to allow Him to reclaim the throne of my life, that is when everything changes. The storm around me may still be raging, and the thunder may be shouting  all of my failures, brokenness, and short comings, but when I make the decision to keep my focus on God, I am able to boldly proclaim: “I know Who goes before me!”

Personally, in my walk with Jesus, I have had moments when it was so much easier for me to stay inside of my boat. For me, my boat provides a false sense of safety and security and, most importantly to me, familiarity. Nothing scares me more than the unknown. The fear of the unknown can be absolutely crippling to me. So when I find myself at the edge of my boat looking out at the storm around me, it is so much easier for me to just stay put. I am here to tell you that when we stay put, we are only selling ourselves short. I can promise you that peace, security, and sense of safety that you will find out on the water with Jesus will go far beyond your wildest hopes or expectations. Sometimes, in order to experience the fullness of God, we have to be willing to step outside of our boats.

I have no doubt that if Peter had chosen to stay inside of the boat out of fear, doubt or both, God still would have sustained him and the disciples because God’s faithfulness is not dependent on our faith in Him. God would have sustained Peter either way, but had he not obeyed God’s command he would have missed out on walking on water! God doesn’t hide who He is or what He is capable of from us. He desires to share the entirety of His heart with His children. The only way we will ever experience the fullness of God is through our obedience to Him, even when we’re scared and even when it hurts.

I was a gymnast on a competition team for the entirety of my youth.  My mom would drive me all over Connecticut so I was able to compete with my gym. Gymnastics was something that I loved and was  passionate about, but every time it was time for me to go up and preform I would get really nervous. I would look for my mom’s face in the crowd and she would give me a little nod letting me know that I could do it. The second I started my routine — and any athlete can relate to this — the noise would completely drown out because I was so focused on what I was doing. It was almost as if everything else would melt away. The moment I was done preforming, I was suddenly very aware of the noise once again because I wasn’t focusing. Out of all the hours of training, the many leotards, the sore muscles, the traveling, and the competitions, one routine sticks out to me the most and it is something that I will never forget. I was performing my beam routine, a routine that I knew very well. I already had a few medals under my belt for it, I had practiced it for hours on end, and I could have done this routine with my eyes closed. But this day, something happened. I fell. And I didn’t just fall, I fell hard, and I fell right on my ribs. I remember desperately holding on to the beam so hard. I remember the pain, embarrassment, and fear. I remember the noise coming back into focus. I remember hearing my teammates calling out asking if I was okay. I remember looking over at the judges whispering to each other and just imagining all of the points they were deducting from my score. I remember thinking I had let everyone down.  I also remember looking in the crowd and finding my mom’s face. I remember that she gave me that little nod — that same little nod that she always gave me when I started my routines. You see, my mom knew that I was capable of getting up again. My mom knew the hours of work I had put into this routine. My mom knew that I was strong enough to fight through the pain and drown out the noise once more. That little nod gave me the confidence to know it, too. The same is true for our spiritual lives. Jesus already knows that through Him, we are capable of walking on water. Jesus already knows that through Him, we are capable of overcoming storms. Even more importantly that that, Jesus already knows that we are capable of experiencing His peace in the middle of any storm. It’s time for us to start believing it, too.

What I love the most about this verse is not the miracle of Jesus walking on water, nor is it the miracle of Jesus also allowing Peter to walk upon the water. What I love the most about this verse is that Jesus commanded Peter to come out to Him and then He waited for him in the middle of the storm. I know, beyond any fraction of a doubt, that the same Almighty God Jesus was to Peter thousands of years ago, is the same Almighty God that He is to you and to me today. So He will command us to “come” and then He will wait for us in the middle of our storm. It doesn’t matter if the storm was created by our foolishness, sin, or circumstances far outside of our control. Jesus will walk, willingly and joyfully, right into the middle of it, command us to walk out to Him, and then He will patiently wait.

I want to invite you to take a moment to reflect. What is it that you see when you look into the mirror? Do you see inadequacy, failures, mistakes? Do you see failure or ugliness? Do you see your addiction, disease, sin, your past, pain or brokenness? I know there have been times when I have looked into the mirror have felt the weight of these lies. Let me tell you now what God sees when He looks at you. God sees someone who is redeemed, healed, worthy, and beautiful. He sees someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made. He sees someone who is worth standing in the middle of a storm for, and He sees someone who is worth dying for. Which voice are you going to choose to listen to?

The scripture doesn’t stop there. The  next verses, Matthew 14:30-31, say: “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately, Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “Why did you doubt?” When you are apprehensive about the troubles around you and doubt Jesus’ presence or ability to help, you must remember that He is the only one who can truly help. When Peter’s faith faltered he didn’t give up and just continue to sink and he didn’t try to get out of the water or start walking on it again through his own strength. Peter acknowledged two things. First, that he needed help out of his situation, and second, that God alone had the power to provide that help. When we are in the midst of our storms our faith may falter — we may even start to doubt God. We aren’t perfect and that’s okay because God understands our human hearts. What’s important is what we do after that because all we have to do is reach our hand up out of the water and we can trust that Jesus will be there right to grab hold of us.

God was able to change Peter’s life with one word. One word gave Peter the courage he needed to step outside of his boat. And through Peter’s obedience to that one word, God changed Peter’s perception of the situation he was in. God didn’t take the storm away. The waves, wind, and rain were still raging— the sky was still dark. But with that one word that God spoke, Peter’s focus shifted from the storm to The One who controls the storm. God showed Peter that He was capable of sustaining him above the water regardless of everything that was going on around him. The same is true in our lives. Regardless of what your storm looks like or how long you’ve been stuck in the middle of it, God will sustain you!

A very wise woman once told me: “You only have enough room in your heart for fear or for faith in God. You get to decide what lives there.” But even in the moments when we lose focus on God, even in the moments when the fear starts to creep back in, and even in the moments when we begin to sink to the depths of the sea, Jesus will be there faithfully and without hesitation, to give us His hand and to pull us up out of the water.

As Christians we believe that the Word of God is more than just words. We believe it to be alive— living and breathing and applicable to our everyday lives. The Word of God quenches our thirst and renews our spirits over and over and over again without fail. So when we read Matthew 14:29, Jesus wasn’t just talking to Peter, He was talking to you and He was talking to me. When we read this verse we are able to know it in our minds, feel it in our hearts, and then hear with our own ears the gentle voice of God.

So, today, I want to challenge you to take that first step outside of your boat. We all have a choice to make. God is calling you today, right now. Don’t miss out on your chance to walk on water! What are you going to allow to inhabit your heart? Fear? Or faith in God? I don’t know about you but I am tired of listening to the thunder and the waves. “Hallelujah” will be our war cry that will pierce through the skies! Are you with me? Lets rise up as the next generation of Peters, Davids, Esthers, and Marys and choose to keep our focus on God and then walk upon the water!