I have heard (and said myself) that life is hard as a pastor. Your day is EXPECTED to include prayer, Bible Study, encountering others in their struggles and balance a family all while being entertaining as well as informative, wise, and considerate anytime someone needs something from you. In truth, that is still my life as a full time employee, a parent, a friend, and whatever other role I am put into. The only difference seems to be the location I am in the church.
This week’s text shifts from the miracles Jesus performed to lessons directly tied to being a disciple. Matthew 14: 22-33 is a familiar one where Jesus walks on water, invites Peter to come and we all blame Peter for not having more faith. We tend to focus on the disciples being afraid when He walks out to them and the failure of Peter losing concentration on the One who called him out, literally, onto the water when Peter asked. I want to draw out two points less looked at by our traditional readings to see where we can grow and learn to be better followers.
The first is to take our focus away from what the disciples do and focus on what Jesus did. He sent them away, so they could be together and apart from the crowd, and He went to took time himself to pray. What we miss is that Jesus wakes up in the middle of the night and sees where the disciples are, what they are in the midst of, and He goes back to sleep…. We often can become so involved in controlling someone’s experiences that we forget that we need to pray and rest in order to bless others and work miracles. Superman has the Fortress of Solitude. Batman has the BatCave. And Jesus found an isolated spot to pray and rest when the stakes were highest. Why do we think we don’t and shouldn’t if we desire to be like Him?
The second point is that we often are quick to criticize other believers for not believing enough. Christ speaks kindly to Peter in his moment of doubt and faltering. The question is… where are the other 11 disciples while Peter is seeking to demonstrate his faith? In the boat. It is easy to find fault in others, but what are we doing to practice faith? Are we taking what we know and putting it into practice, or testing the waters to move toward greater faith? I would dare to say that Peter’s faith grew, not despite his failure but, because he stepped out and walked in faith before losing perspective on who called him. Shouting praises to Jesus means more when you are following instructions given by Him than when you have sat in the boat scared to move and shouting hem when everything is calm. Peter walked on the stormy waters in testimony to his belief. What do we need to do to shout praises in the storm instead of doing it from the safety of our boat or after the storms have passed?