Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Peter's Faith

Several weeks ago we talked about mustard seed-sized faith (post on 11/3/13). And Jesus said if we had mustard seed-sized faith in Him we could do anything. For a moment in time, Peter, one of Christ’s disciples, had that tiny amount of faith and was walking on water toward Jesus until he looked around and saw the wind stirring. Fear gripped him and he sank into the water, calling out for Jesus to save him. Read the story below from Matthew 14:22-34.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (NIV)
“Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Can you imagine Jesus, the Son of God, addressing that question to you? What would be your response? How would you conduct yourself in His presence?
Jesus asked Peter that question as He caught hold of his hand to save him from drowning. Let me say that again—Jesus asked Peter that question as He caught hold of his hand to save him from drowning. Let me say it in a different way. Jesus saved Peter in the moment that Peter’s faith faltered. Jesus is near to us and ready to save us, even as our faith wavers. So why do we doubt? 
Do we doubt because we are already caught in a disastrous storm and all seems hopeless? Do we doubt because our plans for our lives have failed us? Do we doubt because we can’t see any evidence of God working in and around us? Do we doubt because we don’t know the One who created us and loved us enough to die for us? Do we doubt because our relationship with God is half-hearted and we don’t trust Him?
Why did Peter doubt? He regularly walked with Jesus, hearing the words of our Lord and witnessing His miracles. My goodness, on the very day that Jesus saved him, Peter and the disciples witnessed Jesus healing the sick and miraculously feeding 5000 people with only five loaves and two fish (Matthew 14:14-21). How could someone who had observed the wonders of God doubt at all? Why would a follower of Jesus have any doubts?
Peter doubted because he took his eyes off of Jesus. He had just heard Jesus say to the disciples, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, still a little unsure, said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” And the Lord said, “Come.” With assurance Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus. But when he looked around, seeing wind and waves, he became frightened. Peter doubted because he allowed visible circumstances to distract him. Jesus happened to be nearby, but Peter chose to focus on danger rather than look to Jesus. 
Have you ever observed the wonders of Jesus Christ and then later begin to doubt? Have you looked to Jesus in prayer and then turn back to gaze with worry over your situation? Why do we doubt a God that is near to us? Why do we have such little faith? There are many reasons but could one reason be that we serve a big God and expect big things to happen? Do we think that only important things (in our eyes) matter to Him? Do we assume He doesn’t have time for our small problems? 
Jesus came to save us all. We matter to Him. Our situations matter to Him. When we only look for big miracles, we miss small marvels. What about the smile you receive from a stranger when your day seems dark and gloomy? How about the hug from a special needs student when everything about your day is going wrong? What about the assisting hand that comes to your aid when you drop your purse and everything spills out? How about the meals brought to you when you experience a death in the family? What about the emails and cards sent in the mail when your husband is told he has cancer? How about the encouraging words from a friend that arrive at just the right time?
God is near to you, in large and small details. He’s ready to grab your hand when you’re drowning. He cares. When circumstances are worrisome and doubts prevail, turn your eyes toward Jesus and realize He is near. We only need to believe with eyes of faith and discover, like Peter, that Jesus comes to save us even as our faith is faltering. We can say with the father of a demoniac, whom Jesus healed, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Can you hear Jesus saying to you, “All things are possible to him who believes”? (Mark 9:22-24)

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