I’ve heard many a sermon about Peter walking on the water. And I’ve heard countless applications of the story. They always have a few common denominators taken straight from the Biblical account: there’s always a storm, Peter always leaves the boat, and he always eventually sinks.
But when I read the story in Matthew 14, I see a couple more details that seem just as vital: Peter did walk on water and as soon as he cried out to Jesus to save him, Jesus did.
To me, both of these details are incredibly comforting. They show that we humans can walk on water—figuratively, of course. I used to think the metaphor of walking on water meant survival -simply hanging on during life’s hard moments and and seasons of suffering. But then a college student’s inspiring sermon completely changed my view with the simplest explanation.
He basically said that to walk on something you must be above it (simple, right?)- exercising confidence and dominion over it. You must not be in the waves; you must be on them. No longer is the storm something happening to you; it’s now something you have a measure of authority over. This is what walking on water is.
- It’s refusing to be paralyzed by fear, confusion, hurt.
- It’s choosing your own reactions and actions, instead of letting the storm control them.
- It’s trusting that God is on your side and will not let you drown.
- It’s refusing to believe your life is out of control, because you know that God is sovereign and can bring good from every situation.
- It’s realizing that you’re not spiraling away from security and peace, because God is your security and peace.
- It’s believing in God’s perspective, because you know yours is not a true reflection of all that’s happening.
- It’s pressing forward and continuing to live your life, even in the confusion.
- It’s recognizing glimpses of hope and searching for the moments of beauty that appear in even the worst days.
That’s when you can rise out of the suffocating waves and let go of the feeling that you’re drowning. Not because the problem or suffering is gone, but because it’s no longer controlling you.
By God’s all-sufficient grace, you won’t just be keeping your head above water anymore; even your feet will be above it.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you,” Jesus says (Isaiah 43:2). Yes, the waters are there, but with your ever-present Savior and Rescuer, they will not overcome you.
Yet even after you rise above, you are still not immune to your flesh’s feelings and reactions. One look around at how hopeless or impossible your situation seems may make your steps of faith suddenly seem crazy and send you spiraling down into the water again, sputtering and gasping for air. It happened to Peter.
The wonderful news is that Jesus doesn’t give up on you. Should you choose, like Peter did, to cry “Lord, save me!”, He won’t leave you hanging. When Peter called out, Jesus “immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.”
How does Jesus reach out His hand and take hold of you today? By whispering his forgiveness of your failure, telling you to try again, reminding you that you walk by taking one step at a time, and providing the power to walk by faith and not by sight.
The biggest obstacle to walking on water is you. Your doubt, your focus on the situation and not on God’s power, your self-dependence, your pride. Lift your eyes to Jesus, call for His help, and choose to start walking. Each day you walk on water will fuel you for the next.
And always, always remember God’s assuring words:
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10
Have you experienced the feeling of drowning only to remember that God holds power over the waves? Did you call on Him to help you rise above them? Tell me about the day you walked on water.