“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’”
Matthew 14:27, ESV
As a longtime sufferer of anxiety and depression, I know what fear feels like. Living with Panic and Anxiety Disorders makes me the poster child of fear. At any given moment my body has the ability to seize up in panic for no reason. Maybe some of you can relate? If you can, I invite you to consider Jesus’ interaction with Peter in Matthew 14, on a boat beaten by large waves, as a metaphor for a Jesus-focused approach to our fear. It’s not our fear that defines who we are; it is Christ.
“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’”
Matthew 14:28, ESV
Like Peter, we all have our boats through which we navigate this life. We all have those places we deem secure, even if the waters are rocky. No matter how hard the wind blows, we stay where we are. We hold on to what we have because we dare not look farther out. Our boats could be our jobs, our families, our homes, or maybe even financial security despite being called to give more. What if you were to ask God to command you away from your place of comfort? Would you then listen to His command? Would you step off with trepidation, or would you jump off your boat with excitement? Take a moment to think: What or who is your faith placed in at the moment?
“He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”
Matthew 14:29, ESV
Talk about a leap of faith! But Peter seemed to have no doubt. From the moment Jesus commanded him to step off that boat, Peter knew he was about to walk on the water. Not only did he walk upon the water, he kept his head held high, focused solely upon Jesus and not on the unknown waters below.
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Matthew 14:30, ESV
Peter didn’t just feel the wind; he saw it. Despite standing next to the Living God on the water, the moment Peter saw the storm he became afraid and began to sink. The moment we take our eyes off Christ is the moment we realize how scary our life is without Him. We, like Peter, may look toward the storm instead of continuing to look at Jesus. Storms in life can be anything. From financial disaster, cancer, miscarriage, or infertility to the unwanted past resurfacing—we all have storms. But we also have Christ.
“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
Matthew 14:31, ESV
Being afraid of the unknown and not calling out to Christ will inevitably make us sink. Though we take the first step off the boat, like Peter, fear may set in that keeps us from walking. The moment we begin to get caught up in the storm is the moment we need to focus ourselves back to Jesus. His reaction to Peter was immediate. He stretched out his hand to take hold of him, and He will do the same for us. “Daughter, why did you doubt?” Without Christ we have fear, but in Him we can become fearless. You are His, and He will not forget or abandon you.
“And when they got in the boat, the wind ceased.”
Matthew 14:32, ESV
Being fearless with Christ doesn’t really mean we are without fear. Being fearless in the gospel means we know Christ is there for us and know we can rely upon Him when we are afraid. We need to remind ourselves that drowning in waves of this life is not Game Over! It is the point for beginning to rely on God to help us. It is the beginning opportunity for being fearless in Christ. When we stand face to face with fear, we have a choice. We can panic, or we can pray. Panicking causes us to miss out on a God appointed moment, but calling out to God leads to His reaching out to us. Though trials may come, Jesus will take hold of your hand, and lead you back to safety. Let us be brave like Peter, who invited God’s command to get off the boat and walk on the water. Let us be fearless with the One who calls us by name.
by Stefanie Kamerman