Beyond the Shore
Submitted by Andrea Gerhard
“If we only do what we’re familiar with, we might miss what we’ve been made for.” – Bob Goff
This past weekend, we began the new worship series “GO: Missionary Journeys” learning first about Peter and the “mission” track he walked in beginning the early church. In the reading from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 14:22-33) we heard the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out of the boat to meet Him. Peter at first had great confidence in stepping out and approaching Jesus on the water, but when he became aware that things might be a little rough, doubt set in and his confidence wavered causing him to begin to sink and call out “Lord, save me!”. And, as we learn in verse 31, ‘Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”‘.
Does this sound familiar? Have you had those moments where you first felt willing to step out when called but allowed doubt to creep in and overtake you with that sinking feeling? I have often wondered why it is that we do sink into doubt so easily, especially knowing (like in v. 31) that Jesus is right there – if we could only just keep our eyes fixed on Him, we wouldn’t even notice the other things that vie to pull our attention away from him (the things that distract and cause doubt). Like Peter at times, the closer we draw to Jesus, the more we aim to listen for His call, the deeper we grow in our faith – often Satan works even harder to come between us and the Lord, throwing distractions our way, clouding our minds, planting seeds of doubt and ultimately causing us to sink as we try to walk on the water toward Jesus.
Jesus does not want us to doubt Him or the way His Father has created each of us. In calling Peter out of the boat, Jesus wanted him to begin to understand what he was made for, to realize his full purpose and the kind of leader he needed to be. Jesus called him out because He wanted Peter to understand the level of faith and confidence in God he would need in what was ahead. Peter wasn’t going to be able to doubt or back down in any of the situations he would encounter as he answered the call or mission he was created to respond to – he had to fully trust and rely on God and his faith in Jesus in meeting the challenging situations before him as he grew the church. In doing something unfamiliar to him like stepping out of the boat and on to the water to encounter Jesus, Peter had the opportunity to begin to understand exactly what he was made for by God.
Many of us may still just be standing on the shore, at water’s edge – we look out at the waters and see that sometimes they are calm, sometimes the waves come in varying sizes, and sometimes the power of those waters can feel overwhelming. We’re not quite ready to even get in the fishing boat – it’s just too unfamiliar to us.
Some have taken the next step and may be in that fishing boat. But, those in the fishing boat may have not yet stepped out of that boat on to the water. It’s something not easily understood, and too unfamiliar.
Perhaps you have made it off the shore, into the boat, and have made that first attempt like Peter to step out on the water toward Jesus but allowed fear and doubt to sink you. What have you learned from that experience – did it help you to understand what you are made for? Will you take the risk to try again, having confidence that you are God’s creation, made for His purpose?
Take some time to reflect on where you might be standing – what will help you to GO, to take the next step? Is there someone else standing with you and can you encourage each other in this journey? In these weeks ahead, I hope you, too, will be able to think more on these things and explore your faith at a whole new level ‘beyond the shore’. Let’s take these steps together.