By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Matthew 14:23-33 has been my go-to passage for the last several weeks. Maybe it’s because I feel like as a mom, I am being asked to walk on water but find myself drowning most days. I hope you’ll read the passage before we dive in (no pun intended) to what I confidently believe someone this month needs to hear.
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’
“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So 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 into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”
There is a God who wants to rescue you from the weight of your fears, your failures, your brokenness, your missed expectations, your broken home, your missteps in motherhood. That feeling of drowning, isolation or shame that you may find yourself in? There is a God who wants to pull you out of the waters of your circumstances.
As I prayed through these scriptures this month, I kept asking God to show Himself in these words and bring them to life. What did God want me to point each of you to in this story? What is God trying to teach us?
Rely on God’s power in your life, even when the winds are blowing. “Reliance” has been the word that God has continually pointed me to in this season. I am a recovering people pleaser. Man, I fight the battle of insecurity each and every day: I generally want people to like me, worry what others might think of the type of job I’m doing — in the right context, it’s OK to want to do well, but it had become an idol for me. God’s Word reminds me that this broken world WILL NOT SATISFY my innate desire to be loved and known, which is what all insecurity ultimately boils down to. So I will look at this story and be reminded of my need for RELIANCE on the Jesus who calmed the storm, walked on water, and pulled Peter from his drowning.
Remain in God’s presence, in His Word, even when you feel yourself drowning from the weight of expectations. Remain steadfast in seeking Him in all things.
Jesus remains in the darkness that the disciples experienced. You’ll notice the scripture says He was watching the boat from afar. This reminds us that Jesus remains with us in both the good and the bad. He is calling us to remain steadfast in His love, even when it doesn’t make sense or is uncomfortable or calls us out of our sin. In this story, Jesus points to the fact that doubt is a natural part of faith. He loves us enough to meet us in the waters of our uncertainties.
Jesus asks us to remember not only His power but the power we have through Him. Jesus is still Lord. Jesus still walked on water. Jesus still defeated death. It’s not about perfection — that’s Jesus’ role. What is the measure of success for your faith? Is it about you? Or is it about what Jesus has done for you? We make our faith so small and difficult when we place the emphasis on us and what we’ve done or haven’t done — that’s religion. Jesus allows us to be in a true, loving relationship because He truly loves us. So much so that He died a death we deserved as broken, sinful people, and made a way for you and me to be made whole. Remember that He knows the depths of your soul, your brokenness, your failures, and remember He is with you even when it feels like you’re all alone. You don’t have to pretend to have it together, because Jesus knows you don’t. He is calling you out into the waters of fully trusting Him.
Peter here is a classic example of what happens when our minds shift from Christ to self, or from Christ to circumstance: We. Will. SINK. Our goal is to rely on Jesus, remain in His presence and remember His goodness.
I think it’s important to remind ourselves that Jesus knew as He was pulling Peter out of the water that Peter would eventually deny Him. Jesus knew Peter would fail Him, but Jesus also knew that His body wasn’t just rescuing him out of the water on that day — His blood eventually would cover all of Peter’s iniquities. And it covers yours and mine.
That’s what God has for each of us. You are worthy of being pulled out of the water, and ultimately Jesus has made a way for you to be worthy of relationship with Him. That truth is reliable, will remain, and is worth remembering.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 8 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 5 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.