Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got back in the boat, the wind ceased. – Matthew 13:29–32
It rained intensely for three days. Rivers in St. Louis County overwhelmed their banks and the flood water soon reached historical levels. Close by, the crossing of I-44 and Rte. 141 turned to a lake. The Starbucks on the corner became a hangout for sightseeing. Sipping up lattes, crowds of people gathered by the flood’s edge using the closed highway as a platform for selfies.
Our culture excels in turning tragedy into amusement. Parents bring children up close to see the flood saying, “Isn’t this really cool?” Strolling couples comment on the romantic water view now available on their backyard. An artist inspired by the flood hopes the water will stay up for a few days so he can finish his painting. Teenagers rejoice over the thrilling opportunity to take out the jet skis….
The world is drowning! The real flood zone, however, is human self-centeredness. Our society is consumed with entertainment and distracted from realizing what’s really going on. While the natural flood waters will recede, the need for deliverance from drowning remains. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope for the world that’s sinking ever deeper into the sea of the self-focused life.
Consider Peter, the outspoken disciple. He had courage and strength, and was willing to take a risk. What he lacked at times was focus on a greater source of power than himself. At the command of Christ, he got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. Yet, when he got distracted, he lost focus and began sinking.
Now consider the work of Christ. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” In this true story, faith is parallel to keeping our eyes on Christ. A person of little faith gets easily sidetracked from focusing on God as the source of real help. Ironically, distraction is not always an unpleasant or life threatening experience. On the contrary, pleasure, entertainment, or self-focus can be used effectively by the enemy to divert attention away from Christ.
Perhaps the most decisive part of the story is captured in these words: Jesus… took hold of him. Here is an interesting fact every trained life guard will affirm: Saving a drowning person is actually much easier if they just give up their own panicky effort, keep calm, obey instructions, and allow the saving person to do their job. Christ did His part unmistakably as the Savior and Deliverer. He always does! But Peter also played his part by not interfering, not trying to help Jesus to help him—it almost sounds like an oxymoron. He simply let Christ take hold of him and guide him back to the safety of the boat.
May be you feel like you’re drowning right now. Faith is hard to find and distractions seem to be mounting. Some of the distractions may even be entertaining, but you know they will only divert your focus away from Christ. If that’s the case, do what Peter did. Cry out, “Lord, save me” and then allow the strong saving arm of the Lord to pull you back up and guide you back to safety. Do not resist. In fact, the more you kick and scream in panic, the harder it will be to get solid footing—and that’s what we need: a solid footing through an undivided focus on Christ as we submit to His power and guidance.
You are loved,