“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” Matthew 14:29-30
Normally, my favorite way to drive a speedboat is full-tilt, skipping across the water with the wind in my face. But this time my usual penchant for speed was tempered by the precious cargo being towed behind the boat—two of my granddaughters, Sophie, who was 4, and Maggie, who was 6, were going tubing for the first time. Our plan was to pull them gently along behind the boat on a huge tube designed with little cockpits for them to sit in.
So, I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of the speedboat and Maggie and Sophie are decked out in their life vests, nestled down into the tube, ready to go on their first-ever tube ride. And, good grandfather that I am, I resisted the lure of the boat’s horsepower and gently eased the throttle down ever so slowly, not wanting to scare the little girls who were already feeling a little tentative. But though well-intended, I was clueless. The tube was not designed to go slow. When pulled fast enough, the tube planes out on top of the water. When pulled slowly, water gushes over the front of the tube and actually pulls it underwater.
Well, you can imagine the terrified look on Sophie and Maggie’s faces as the tube took on more and more water! Their panicked cries of desperation could be heard all across the lake. Think of it, only 4 and 6 years old, and headed to Davy Jones’s locker! Needless to say, I stopped the boat immediately and we began reeling the tube in. The whole time we were pulling the tube in, we kept calling, “Look up here, it’s going to be okay! We’ve got you; you’re alright. Look up here!”
As they got close to us and heard our assuring words, their panic subsided and you could see their faces relax. They were no longer focused on the water around them and the real danger in the lake. Getting close to and keeping their eyes on the one helping them made all the difference.
To me that seems a lot like what happened to Peter in Matthew 14:1-34. No tubes and no speed boat, but real danger nevertheless. His bravery and courage took him quite a distance—in fact, all the way outside of a boat onto storm-tossed waves in the howling wind. For a few minutes, it was just him and Jesus, and Peter was able to do the impossible. He was walking on water! But then his attention got diverted. Suddenly he saw the churning water and the angry waves, and, Scripture records, he became afraid. The circumstances didn’t change, but the focus of his attention did.
But then Jesus reached out, drawing Peter’s focus away from the wind and back to Him. Back to the safety and security that Jesus always promises in the midst of the storm.
That’s the reminder we need when we’re in the midst of life’s storms. It’s so easy, isn’t it, to fixate on the very real dangers and distress that come with life’s problems. And yet our loving, gracious, infinitely powerful heavenly Father calls out to us: “Look up here; it’s going to be okay. I’ve got you, and I will bring you in safely.”
For Peter, it started with a simple, unadorned, heartfelt prayer. “Lord, save me!” We can cry out those same words as we look away from the waves and into the face of our Father today. As the old song says:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace!
Remember, He didn’t bring you this far to let you drown!