Last weekend, I got a new pair of glasses, but I can’t show them to you. Actually, nobody can see them. I won’t describe them to you and I won’t tell you how much they cost. I will, however, wear them around you, and maybe you’ll notice, maybe you won’t. It’s really up to you to keep a lookout for them.
Let me explain.
Last Saturday, early in the morning after the sun had just risen and it was a cool 80 degrees outside, I was spending some time in prayer. As I was praying for restoration and healing in hearts, I became overwhelmed. I started questioning the actuality of those things happening, wondering if there was something I could do, trying to configure a plan to make people and lives and hearts better. As if it’s my job.
The Lord intervened in my spirit and said, “You cannot worry about other people. Trust that I see them as much as I see you. I’m taking care of them. I’m loving them. When you take your eyes off Me and look around, you start to sink.”
The Holy Spirit then prompted me to read the well-known story of when Jesus walked on water over in Matthew 14. Since I had read and heard that story countless times, I sat there, refusing to read the story, staring at my open journal and closed Bible. Finally, I threw my hands up, flipped open my Bible, and started reading.
And this is when I got my new glasses.
A quick summary of the story goes like this:
The disciples are in a boat that is being tossed by wind and waves, probably wearing flip flops and tunics, while Jesus hikes up a mountain to pray and process the past few days of ministry. At about 3 am, Jesus decides to join the disciples and chooses the quickest route to them by walking on the water. Tired and weary, the disciples notice a figure coming towards them, think it’s a ghost, and become overwhelmed with fear and emotion. Jesus tells them who He is and not to worry. Quick-witted Peter yells, “Hey! If it’s really you, then tell me to walk on the water and come to You!” Of course, Jesus says, “Come on!” So, Peter puts his swimsuit on, climbs over the edge of the boat, and touches his toes to the water. Upon realizing that he’s not sinking, he starts to walk towards Jesus with joy and excitement. Unfortunately, the wind around Peter causes him to become frightened and he starts to sink, while at the same time crying out for Jesus to save him. He was almost there! In typical, loving, Jesus fashion, He reaches out His hand and saves Peter.
First off, please grant me some grace towards my modern-day rendition of this story, as no offense or harm is meant to be caused. This is the story that I saw when I read it the other day. I could suddenly feel the humidity rising from the water, smell the freshly caught fish, see the shadow of Jesus in the distance, hear the wind howling through the boat, and taste the water as it hit Peter’s lips when he started to sink.
I read this story from the Amplified Version of the Bible, which I highly recommend to anyone wanting deeper and richer meanings to these sacred words. This translation relays Peter’s experience of walking on water as one that all humans go through. It says that “when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me from death!’” (v 30). I had always thought the story went that Peter took his eyes off Jesus, saw the storm and waves, and became afraid. That would make sense, right? I think the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, wanted to convey the deeper, heart issue that hits each of us when we walk through life.
I don’t think the point of this story is that taking our eyes off Jesus and looking at a storm causes us to sink. Nor do I think that the lesson is to keep tunnel vision on Jesus so that we don’t see any storm around us. The verse says that Peter perceived and felt the wind, and he became frightened. He began to sink and realized that he was headed towards death when he cried out to Jesus. It was Peter’s perceptions and feelings that caused him to fear. His fear caused him to sink towards death. All while a few steps away from his Savior.
This story of Jesus and Peter on the water is what the Holy Spirit used to hand me a new pair of glasses. I was presented with a real, sensory story and saw myself in Peter. My fears and insecurities rise up when I try to step forward based on my perceptions and feelings. I quickly sink towards death when I stand on circumstances and emotions.
Peter’s story is about standing on and walking toward the I AM, regardless of perceptions and feelings. Oh, that we may be a people who quit living based on emotions and circumstances. Rather, may we be people who step out of the boat in confidence and bravery, trust and security in the One who calls us onto the waters, regardless of what we perceive or feel around us.
For feelings lead to doubt and death, while faith leads to obedience and life.
And I’m pretty certain I want to live.