And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Peter thought he could do it, but once he is actually out on the water, maybe it’s different than he had expected it to be. Maybe the wind feels different, stronger out there on the open water than it did from the boat. The waves may have seemed a little bigger and more threatening. And maybe in this moment, even though he had been successfully walking on the sea, he realized how impossible what he was doing actually was. So it suddenly seems like too much. He starts to doubt, and then he starts to sink.
Often, we are willing and able to take that first step of faith. But then that leads us out into the unknown and the unexpected. It’s not always like we thought it would be, and suddenly the fear kicks in and we stop moving forward. We can lose our faith when we realize where we are and what we’re doing and we remember it is water under our feet, not something solid and stable that we are used to walking on. Maybe then it seems suddenly impossible to face it. It seems like we should be sinking, so that’s exactly what starts to happen.
Sometimes it takes these kinds of fits and starts to grow our faith. Maybe we take one step and we start to sink. We take another step next time, and maybe we get farther before we start to sink. Then maybe a time or two after that we make it the whole way across. So we can’t stop taking those first steps of faith that are necessary for our growth. We can’t let one experience where our faith faltered stop us from trying again.
How might Peter have felt after this experience? Discouraged? Embarrassed? Relieved that he didn’t drown? But maybe later he could look back and be thankful that he had the experience at all. Certainly he learned some important lessons not only about himself, but about Jesus. We’re not going to get very far when we stop trusting God. But we’re also not going to get anywhere if we are never willing to take a step and try something we’ve never done before. It may not always turn out how we expect it to. We may fail or falter. But may we learn what we can from those experiences, continue to trust Jesus, and always be willing to take the next step of faith.