This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Matthew 14:22-33
If you possess two functioning legs and two functioning feet, you ought to take a moment and thank God for the gift of mobility! While these two body parts comprise the typical human anatomical structure, many people have neither legs nor feet due to birth impairments, surgical procedures, tragic accidents, and other unfortunate circumstances. And while some people may possess both their legs and feet, they may not be able to move these parts as they so desire. Thankfully, the concept of mobility is not solely limited within the scope of the physical.
In both a physical and an abstract sense, mobility can be expressed as simply taking steps, especially as it pertains to accomplishing certain goals and objectives. Obtaining that degree required you to take a step, and several more after that. Purchasing that home required you to take a step, and many more following that. Acquiring that license and certification for your personal business required you to take a step, and an endless number of such after that. The journey from “I want to do that” to “I did it” is comprised of any number of steps, but that journey, irrespective of its peaks and valleys, cannot be realized without first taking a step towards the targeted direction.
Today’s passage begins in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of approximately 5,000 men, in addition to all the women and children present, with solely two fish and five loaves of bread. Following this miraculous event, Jesus instructs His disciples to get into their boat and travel ahead of Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As they set off for sea, Jesus sends the recently nourished crowd of people away and retreats to a mountain alone to commune with His Heavenly Father in prayer. Following this time of communion, Jesus miraculously catches up with His disciples who are far away from shore at sea and walks towards them...on water. When the disciples saw Him, they cried out in fear believing that He was a ghost. In response to their terror, Jesus immediately comforts them with these words: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid”.
Peter obeyed Jesus’ command and then some! Not only did he take up courage to boldly request the Lord to command him to come onto the water (“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water”), but he actually stepped out of the boat when Jesus told him to “Come” and walked on water towards Him! Unfortunately, Peter succumbed to fear due to the powerful winds blowing against him and began to sink. In need of a rescuer, Peter cried out to Jesus saying, "Lord, save me!", to which Jesus replied saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”.
This word “doubt” in the Greek means “to waver (mentally)”. Interestingly enough, the Amplified Version offers a more in-depth meaning of the phrase “...why did you doubt?” which reads, “why did you allow yourself to be drawn in two directions?”. Although Peter initially stepped out of the boat in faith, he yielded to the fear of the winds blowing against him while walking on water. This deviation in direction weakened his stability and ultimately caused him to sink. No wonder James declares that the man who doubts can be compared to “the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” He goes on to warn his readers that “a double-minded man”, the one who tries to exercise faith while simultaneously doubting, is “unstable in all his ways” (cf. James 1:5-7).
We often come before the Lord and make bold requests, similar to Peter: “Lord, if it is really You, tell me what to do...Lord, if it is really You, tell me which direction to go...Lord, if it is really You, tell me how to respond.” But how often do we actually obey the instruction the Lord gives us in response, the instruction that we requested from Him in the first place? Despite faltering while walking on the water, Peter, nevertheless, stepped out of the boat when Jesus commanded him to come towards Him! Some of us refuse to even take that first step, and then become frustrated with ourselves and even God for our own stagnation. Simply put, no faith journey occurs without mistakes, faults, and what we deem to be “failures”. This is the reality of walking by faith while living in sinful flesh and a fallen world. However, one temporary moment of doubt does not eliminate the possibility of future recovery and progression.
Just as Jesus commanded Peter to come to Him on the water, the Lord is ultimately instructing us in His every command to come to Him, to move to where He is! Surely, we do not want to be anywhere outside of the protection and safety of His will! Therefore, when you take that first step towards the inconceivable, the unimaginable, and what men have deemed impossible or unattainable for you, remember who commanded you to come, if indeed it was the Lord! Remember who is standing across from you waiting to stretch forth His arm to save you from a sinking situation and lift you from doubt to belief (cf. Isaiah 59:1). Like the disciples, you will surely worship Him with awe-filled reverence and proclaim the deity of Jesus Christ with your own mouth saying, "Jesus, You are certainly God's Son!"