(April 9, 2010)
Right now, I am sitting next to the Sea of Galilee looking straight across at the city of Tiberias. The water is calm and still. The sky is bright, but grey. There are only a few spots where the sun shines through the thick cloud cover. The sea is smaller than I imagined; I can see the land limits on every side from where I sit.
Many years ago, there were several men of God in a boat traveling this same sea. The weather was quite different than this day. They were in the midst of a storm and as it is written, they were far from land, the wind was blowing hard, and the waves were against them. They could not even see the land limits around them. In the middle of their struggle, they saw what they thought was a ghost. They were already terrified of losing their lives due to this great storm, but now that a ghost entered the picture, they were terrified all the more. But it was at this point, in the fear of the the unknown that they heard these blessed words: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” What comfort; what relief! What was once a ghost in their minds was now their Savior. One of the men was named Peter. He was a zealous one and he took heart and jumped right out of the boat to follow to the voice of this One walking on the water in the midst of a storm. He had his eyes fixed on his goal. He was confident and ready, but then, unexpectedly perhaps even to himself, the eyes of his heart turned to the left and to the right. He saw the great waves and the struggle of the winds. He lost sight of his goal and began to sink into the sea. Fear gripped this man as he cried for help to the One whom he walked towards in the first place. The next words he heard were these, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” The zeal Peter burned in his heart. It was his hope to have faith, he asked for faith, he desired it with passion, but he turned away. I am sure that he felt like a failure, like one who knew his spirit was willing but couldn’t understand why that spirit did not sustain his faith. He did not respond to the question asked. He perhaps had nothing to say. Maybe his words were not recorded, but the gentle rebuke seemed to be enough. Nothing more needed to be said.
In human terms, Peter had every reason to be afraid and to look away. In times of storm, the Lord says the same things to me: O you of little faith, why did you doubt? My first response is always incredulous. I want to look at my Lord and say, what do you mean? Look at what I am going through, don’t you see? Don’t you understand? I understand that you have plans that are bigger and grander than my little life, but look at what I am suffering! Like Peter, all I look at is the storm and I start to sink and then when I am sinking, I cry out for help to the one whom I was chasing in the first place, the one who rebuked me for small faith.
The Sea of Galilee is very small, but in the storm, the disciples could not see the other side of the shore. All they had to look to was Jesus. In the same way, in the midst of the storms of life, the shore is never far off. Eternity is within reach despite not being able to see it at times. The test comes when we can’t see it and that is when we have the opportunity to trust in the Savior, the author and perfecter of our faith, the One who WILL complete the work he began in each of us.
1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
My brethren, believe that you will look upon the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for Lord, let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27)