The lesson of Matthew 14:22-33 should be rote for us by now. Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, gets out of the boat, and walks out to meet him – until he starts paying more attention to the waves instead of Jesus. That’s when he starts to sink.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the lesson teaches us (echoed by Hebrews 12:1), and not on the wind and waves of your circumstances.
Unfortunately, we’re all still rather bad at it.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s because we don’t realize all the many forms that “looking at the waves” can take.
Have you ever run simulations in your mind on what you’ll say or do to accomplish something yourself? You pray to God, acknowledge that he’s in control and that the resolution has to come from him, but then habitually drop back into your mental simulations of whether your competence or character can handle the task ahead, or the million little details that need to go right?
All without seeing the contradiction between what we believe and what we think.
Yea, me too.
I submit that “thinking it’s all up to you” is simply another form of looking at the waves. We worry about missing “the moment”, that one word or conversation or act of obedience we think we need to execute at just the right time. Sure, God gives us a part and there might be an obedience involved somewhere in the plan. But speculating is worry and worry, ironically, is disobedience. When does it do anything but leave us twisted around the axle and less likely to get it right?
You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you. (Matthew 10:18-20)
If this works for a pressure-cooker like being dragged before the authorities with life itself on the line, then it works for every situation. Let go of how it’s going to go. If this feels panicky, like letting go of the wheel on an ice-slicked road, you’ll know that you’re truly trusting God and that he’s gaining ground in your soul.
It’s the same with trying to factor your competence or your past into a situation.
God calls us to something, or promises us something, and we worry about whether we’ll be able to handle our part.
We might still be seeing ourselves for who we were rather than who God has made us today.
Or we might still be seeing our sin or our unworthiness to be part of God’s plan, rather than seeing ourselves through the lens of God’s identity.
Thank God this is not our reality. How awful it would be if God limited himself completely to the abilities of frail, broken, evil human beings. Nothing would ever get done! Instead, God chooses to glorify himself through redefining us. Instead of calling the qualified, he qualifies the called, as the saying goes. He reveals to us that it’s his power, not ours, that keeps the world running.
Scripture has a lot to say about people who plead that they “could never do something like that” (Moses) or “don’t deserve to be used by God”. Peter, humbled by his denials of Christ, found on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias that God’s grace was greater.
Let that be your nautical reality this week.