In Matthew 14:22-33, we find the familiar story of Jesus walking on water. At a women’s retreat I attended recently, this story became new. It was no longer simply a Bible story told on Sunday School flannel graph. It became much more personal.
When we listened to a lady read the story, a phrase that immediately stood out was, “Why did you doubt?” in verse 31. Although Jesus asked the question, there was either no reply, or a reply was not important enough to record. I began to wonder if the “why” to our doubts is important.
The third time she read the story, I began to see the dialogue between Peter and Jesus (verses 27-33) as very similar to the “conversations” I often have with Him.
Jesus: Don’t be afraid! Take courage! It’s Me!
Me: If it’s really You, give me something else. Tell me I can go. Tell me I can do this.
Jesus: Go! It’s OK. Move! Do! Be!
Me: (I go, begin to fear and doubt, then sink. The wind and waves distract my focus and attention away from Him and His Word.) Help! I need You!
Jesus: (Immediately saves me, pulls me out and holds me.) Why did you doubt Me? Don’t you believe in Me?
(There’s nothing left but for me to worship again, reminded of who He is and understanding even more of who He’s revealed himself to be.)
Have you ever had a similar interaction with God? He tells you to go for something, but you ask for a sign or further confirmation when He’s already said it’s Him? Or maybe you resonate more with following Him but becoming distracted along the way, losing focus on what He’s told you is true. Whatever the path, I find most often that in the end, He has once again opened our eyes to who He is, and we are left in awe, inspired to worship and praise.
It doesn’t matter why we doubt as much as the fact that we don’t often trust Him enough to “take courage” when He tells us the first and second times. He shows us He’s God anyway (verse 33). He’s there anyway (verse 31). He’ll still save us when we call (verse 30-31).
Ultimately, it’s not about us. It’s all about Him and His glory. Anything of us that matters is only what points to Him.
The last time she read the passage, I noticed something else from the beginning of the story. Verse 24 says, “but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” This routine usually starts when we’re already far away from Him. We’re too far to recognize Him the first time He tells us what He has for us. If we stay close to Him, we can better recognize Him throughout the entire process.
When I was discovering this, I realized I had the choice to take this as condemnation — feeling like a failure for the many times I’ve wandered, didn’t recognize Him or became distracted from focusing on Him — or a challenge to grow even closer to Him and His voice. I decided to take the challenge.
“We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us” (2 Corinthians 1:10).