When they (Jesus and Peter) got into the boat, the wind ceased.
As someone who keeps trying to live out my faith well, I love Peter as an example of living as a follower of Jesus, especially the parts where Jesus forgives Peter’s shortcomings and gives him another chance, again. The gospels are full of great stories of Peter enthusiastically reaching out to Jesus and just missing the mark. Of course, the time he tried to walk on the water to meet Jesus is a favorite. I’ve always appreciated that he tried, and when he got distracted and failed, he cried out to Jesus for help.
Only recently did I notice in a new way how that story proceeds that speaks to an even fuller meaning. Peter gets out of a perfectly good boat. Have you ever gone skydiving? How many times have you heard someone joke to you about not jumping out of a perfectly good airplane? Peter gets out of a perfectly good boat – nothing wrong with it, no leaks mentioned, no fire on board, best place to be to stay safe from the waves and the wind around them, since they are far from the shore. Not Peter, though, he sees Jesus and gets excited like he does and challenges Jesus to command him to come. So, overboard he goes.
That part doesn’t go so well, and Jesus hauls him up so the wind and waves don’t take him, and they get into the boat together. That boat isn’t the same. What it was missing before was the presence of Jesus. I have a whole new appreciation for Peter leaving the boat as I realized Jesus was not there with him. Only when they go into the boat together, and the disciples worship him, is everything really alright. Even the wind dies down.
I wonder how often I am not intentionally entering spaces and situations and relationships by bringing Jesus with me. It’s clear when I do, because in those circumstances, the storms of the world won’t become overwhelming and I don’t lose myself, who I am as a child of God who has chosen to follow Jesus. As I strive to know Jesus and grow in His image, I must always be pursuing Him and His commandments in my life to come to Him, so that where I go, there He may be also. And where He is, with me, I am able to offer His love, shine His light, bear with others in mercy and compassion and forgiveness, and all good gifts that God provides for me to share. I know this is possible, as long as I remember to walk with Jesus wherever my steps may lead.
This boat and storm we are in together now – pandemic, politics, civil unrest, a looming General Conference – I won’t make it unless I continue to seek Jesus Christ first, and make sure He is my companion on the way.
My hope is only in Him,
Pastor Wynn Stenftenagel