Recently, a good friend of mine and I were talking about the Apostle Peter and his contributions to the world of ‘boater safety’. We find the story in the book of Matthew, the 14th chapter.
After receiving news of the death of His cousin, John the Baptist, Jesus took Peter and the Disciples on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee in search of a quiet place to morn. The crowds, however, would not leave the Lord alone, which led up to the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Immediately after that Jesus instructed the Disciples to get back in the boat and head out to sea, assuring them that He would catch up with them soon. Later that night the weather turned very bad and Jesus walked out on the waves to be with His frightened followers. When he saw Jesus walking on the water, dear Peter cried out, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus saw the purity of Peter’s desire to be where He was and do what He did, He replied, “Come”. “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’ 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”
Now on the surface it would appear that Peter violated many boating safety rules. First off, no mention of a life vest or personal floatation device of any kind is made. Secondly, team work is the key to successful maritime endeavors, especially when facing a rough sea. Peter striking out on his own was not in keeping with being a good crew member! And finally, “always stay with the boat”, even if it capsizes.
On closer examination, however, we see Peter leaving us with several indispensable lessons for those sailing on the Sea of Life.
1. Always look for a cause greater than your personal safety. Jesus is constantly calling those who listen to a struggle that is greater than can be accomplished from the safety of our own comfort.
2. Though the Lord loves and values unity among his followers, He still has the capacity to know us each individually and speak into our lives His very specific and special will.
3. Someday, at some time, real faith will call us to venture beyond the rails of our personal boat. Peter is derided by some for his lack of faith as though Jesus’ words to him were a rebuke. If that were His attitude toward His beloved friend, I doubt The Lord would have called him out in the first place. Instead of rebuke, I see Jesus giving a personal hand to the one willing to step out of the boat in obedience to His call. Of those in the boat at the beginning of this adventure only one was willing to be tested in a way that if Jesus did not rescue him he would be lost. The others remained safe but would never know the personal reality of Jesus’ grip like this very special fisherman.
I see these as some of Peter’s greatest contributions to his fellow voyagers. If you are counted among them, I wish you good sailing…and encourage you to once in a while, go out for a walk.