Heart racing and breathing rapidly as eyes caught sight of a figure walking on the water to them. That isn’t possible. Look at the size of the waves, crashing around him. Yet, this figure is not moved by what is rising and falling around him. He walks, on the calm surface of the water. Above the storm, despite the storm. The spray is being whipped by the wind into Peter’s face as he hears the men call out in fear. His mind tries hard to understand what he is seeing. The dim light and the constant jostling of the waves and the movement of the boat make it hard to get a clear look. It is somehow familiar and yet fear still lingers in the front of his mind. He hears the words carry across the water to them, “Do not fear, it is I.”
His heart leapt, skipping a beat or three. It is Jesus! He knew it. His spirit was in complete agreement. The fear departed as quickly as it had arrived. Oh, how he desired to run out to him and embrace him. The relief was palatable, as saliva returned to his mouth and he swallowed the latest salt spray to hit him in the face. Word’s escaped his mouth before they had even formed in his mind. He heart spoke, his ears heard. “Lord, bid me come.”
Hands already pulling away cloaks and tightening his belt. Preparation even before bidding. Anxious hands readying a journey. No doubt, just desire to be near his Lord. “Come.” He always bids us come. He knew he would. Stepping over the side of the boat and onto the water. Eyes fixed on Jesus. Awe and excitement causing his eyes to be transfixed on, locked to his destination. Walking eagerly towards his Lord. Then the wave happened.
The wave rose around them and broke the connection. It came between them and washed over their faces. Distraction, diversion, shifted attention. Jesus came back into focus only a millisecond later, yet the reality of what he was doing caught up with Peter. What am I doing? Who do I think I am? Why would Jesus want me to come to him, to walk on the water? I am nobody, a constant failure and disappointment. These waves are surely going to overtake me and drag me under. His next step didn’t stay on the surface. It sunk slightly under the water. The fear rose higher as his feet sunk lower.
“Save me, Jesus!” Lord, help me! I can’t do this! I shouldn’t have stepped out of the boat, out of my safety. I shouldn’t have been so silly. Why did I do this?!! His attention completely focused on all that was overcoming him, surrounding him, engulfing him. He didn’t see that hand that grabbed his arm, that reached out from right in front of him. Jesus was right there, holding him, raising him back above the waves.
“Where is your faith, Peter? Didn’t you trust me to be there for you?” His touch pushed the fear away and quieted the voices in his mind. He felt like a child as his father reached out and scolded him but had his loving arms around him. Jesus held him as they both walked back to the boat. The storm still raged. The waves still rose and fell around them. The spray clinging to their hair and beard. Clothes heavy with water. The storm raged on them, as well as around them, yet it no longer raged inside. With Jesus holding him, walking beside him, he found a new courage. A strength he always had when he was in his presence, and longed to have when he wasn’t. His step returned boldly, continuing until they climbed into the boat.
Once in the boat, immediately, everything stopped. The water stilled. The wind quieted. The clouds parted, and the moon glistened on the water. The men in the boat all sat aghast at what they had witnessed. Their eyes trying to process information that didn’t make sense. “Surely you are the Son of God.” There was no other explanation. This wasn’t the first-time creation had stilled at his hand.
Peter sat himself down in the back of the boat as the disciple’s chatter elevated in the excitement. He himself was trying to process what it was that had just happened. His eyes alight with joy and wonder, looked over at Jesus as their eyes connected for a moment. Jesus looked proud of him. It didn’t really make sense as he had failed but he looked like a proud father, loving his son. Peter warmed at the thought while trying to understand why.