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Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
(Matthew 14:29-30)
When you read the story that unfolds as Peter walks on water (Matthew 14:22-32), does your mouth ever twitch into a sideways grin? There’s no way to know exactly how the scenario went down that night, but in my imagination I see Peter clamoring to get out of the boat – once he knows he’s seeing Jesus and not a ghost – while 11 other disciples are telling him to sit down and be quiet before he turns the boat over and they all die in the storm.
Despite what they may have considered over-enthusiasm or even drama on the part of their fellow disciple, though, Peter made a move that night that none of them attempted. And that one move changed 12 lives. Drastically. The scene ends with the awe-stricken apostles seemingly realizing afresh that Christ is indeed the Son of God (Matthew 14:33).
But it is in the events that take place between beginning and end that holds rich application for the life of the believer. When Peter requested and received Christ’s invitation to get out of the storm-tossed boat in verse 29, that’s just what he did. With his focus fixed upon Christ, he found himself divinely empowered to walk toward the Source of that power. It wasn’t until he shifted that focus away from the Source and onto situational factors – the raging winds, the crashing waves, the claps of thunder and lightning – that he began to sink as today’s passage-of focus recounts.
In other words, Peter became distracted when he looked away from Christ. And in that moment, that distraction left his gasping for air, struggling to survive.
Let’s give Peter a break here and assume – which we can safely do – that he didn’t actually intend to shift his focus away from his Source of power. He is, after all, not only in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, but he’s also defying nature by walking atop water. Not through water, mind you; atop it. That’s quite a distraction in and of itself, and I wonder if that distraction was compounded at any point by regret at having left the boat in the first place. Tongue-in-cheek, I can imagine asking myself something like:
What is it with you…why do you insist on getting yourself into these messes?
Admittedly, Peter had an undeniable knack for speaking or acting before he thought things through, but notice that actually it was Christ Himself who bid him step out of the boat onto a storm-tossed sea (verse 29). Peter could have backed out of the deal without leaving the boat. He could have looked over the its bow and frozen in fear at the sight of the water. He could have feared failure. He could have feared ridicule from his fellow disciples if he did fail. He certainly could have lingered back in fear of the storm itself.
But he didn’t linger back inthe boat; he moved forward in faith onto the water and toward the Source who called and empowered him to step out of the boat.
While believers today may not be called to physically walk on water, we are called to step out of the boat for the purposing of advancing the present phase of the Kingdom of God (e.g. Acts 1:8). What’s more, we are called to step out of the boat in the storms of life – the winds, the rains, the hurts, the devastations, the fears that grip us tighter than any others. And when we do step out of the boat, we serve and are served so well if we make a deliberate decision to focus steadily on the Caller instead of focusing on the calling and its associated problems. It is He, after all, who is greater than any source of power the world has to offer (1 John 4:4).
In a world where we, in our human natures, may feel caught in a storm that seems to gain strength on a daily basis, avoiding distractions may be easier said than done. This was certainly the case for Peter. But in the sinking of this disciple we find hope. Today’s passage-of-focus shows us that when Peter felt himself going beneath the water he’d been called to walk on, he returned straight to the Source.
Lord, save me!
And Christ did save Peter, just as he stands ready to save us when we answer His call to step out of the boat.
Conclude Day 26 by reflecting on the following questions, then document your PRAYER conversation for today in light of your answers.
Think of a stormy circumstance amid which Christ called you to step out of your boat or comfort zone. What did you do? What were the results?
Moving forward, in what – if any – ways might you determine to focus on the Caller instead of problems associated with your calling as you answer Him?
Praise and Thanksgiving:
            In your own words, who is God to you personally? What has He done for you specifically
            in the past day or so – especially the little things – that surprised you or drew you
            appreciation?
Repentance:
This one seems obvious, but consider making a deliberate commitment to go
            beyond “I’m sorry” and make a sincere commitment to do your best through Christ
            to lay these sins aside.
Adoration:
            Love Him. Worship Him. And don’t be afraid to do so with hymns or other songs of
            worship…sometimes mere words may not seem adequate to you. That’s ok!
Yielding:
Is there something you need to turn over to God? A circumstance you can’t control?
            Complicated relationship? Your own will that’s struggling with His will?
Expectation:
What are your concerns, your hopes, your dreams for your church? Your family?
Friends? Not-so-much friends? Yourself?
Restoration:
            End your conversation with the firm knowledge that you are God’s and God is yours.
            Affirm your trust in His all-powerful, never-ending presence in your life. Thank Him
            again for what He’s done for you in the past and what He will do for you in the future
            that’s in accordance with His will. This is an important and proactive demonstration of
            your faith in Him.

Copyright 2017 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.