What if you saw one who claimed to be God walking on water? What if this one who claimed to be God invited you to test the waves? And you did…and there you stood, feet firmly planted on liquid earth. What would you do? Wouldn’t unshakable faith well up? Would questions and concerns melt away, seeming foolish now that you had seen and knew what was true? Probably not. Ask Peter.
Peter doubted. Peter wondered if Jesus was enough to handle his turmoil, perhaps if the notion of God were even true. And this was after – after – he had seen and after he had touched.
Peter was with the disciples on a small fishing vessel, tossed and rocked as the ship strained and moaned against the waves’ assault. Fighting for their lives, they saw Christ walking – yes, walking – across the waves toward them. But they were unsure. Was it really Him? How could it be? Peter made what seems to be an absurd request. “If it is really you, have me come out to you.”
“Come,” said the figure standing on the water, in the middle of the storm. And he did. Almost without thinking, Peter hiked up his robe, stepped over the edge of the boat and took a few steps. On water. Peter walked on water.
But what transpires next is confusing. Peter feels the surge of the wind and seize the violence of the waves. And he doubts. Peter’s faith fails, and he begins to go under. Christ pulls him up and asks him: “Why did you doubt?”
The story is unsettling. If Peter could doubt, if Peter wasn’t quite sure, what does it say about my faith? If Peter wasn’t certain, how can I ever be?
Peters experience points us to an important distinction. I assume faith and certainty to be the same thing. God doesn’t. Certainty is proof. Certainty is mathematical equations and verifiable evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is holding on to God when life batters you, when all the forces of hell assault you.
Christ’s question is most profound – not because Peter had seen the miraculous, but because Peter had seen Christ. Christ stood on the waves. Christ offered Peter an invitation. And He offers the same invitation to us.
There’s something deeper than certainty, something deeper than proof. It is faith in faith that Christ has spoken, has breathed life into our hearts, has offered us Himself. The question is whether or not we will leap into the dark, uncertain waters of faith.
Read Matthew 14.
Jesus, help me hold onto You and faith. I often worry about my circumstances, but I don’t want to, because I know You have my life in Your hands. More than anything, I want to follow You even if I don’t have all of the answers.