That famous story where Peter gets out of the boat and walks on water towards Jesus was my story for over a year in 2016. The journey began late one night when, just as I was falling asleep, the Lord revealed to me the theme for the conference I was planning.
“I dare you” – that was it. I dare you… a phrase I have rarely backed down from when it was thrown my way and here was God laying the challenge in front of me.
We often perceive that it was Peter who first initiated the idea of stepping out on the water, that it was him issuing the challenge to Jesus. However, if we look closer at the passage we can see that in actual fact it was Jesus who issued the first dare:
“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.”
“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
In that command is a challenge, a question – do you trust me enough? Do you believe that I have come to bring good to your life and not to harm you? In those eight words, Jesus dares us to have a faith that is bigger than the circumstances we see around us. He dares us to believe that the great I Am is who He says He is.
It was only after Jesus had dared them to believe that the figure on the water was truly Him and not a ghost that Peter then displays great faith. Yes, great faith. We read this passage, particularly this moment as Peter challenging Jesus to prove Himself: “Lord, if it’s really you…” but in actual fact, Peter is displaying great faith because he doesn’t say to Jesus: “Lord, if it’s you then calm the winds and waves” – an act that would require little faith – Peter needs only to stay in the boat for the Lord to calm the wind and waves.
But what Peter does in this moment is absolutely incredible, he gets some skin in the game.
We pray big prayers, saying “help me to have faith God” or “give me faith Jesus for what’s ahead” but that is putting all the responsibility on God. That is saying, Jesus give me faith without me having to get out the boat. Let me stay within the safe boundaries of what I can see and just send a flash of faith into my heart, then I’ll be able to move ahead.
Not Peter. Peter gets possibly a little righteously cocky and basically says to Jesus “I want great faith but I know it’s going to require me getting out of my comfort zone and I’m going to have to come and get it!”
When we want to see results in anything we need to put in the hard work to make it happen. Want to lose weight then you have to work out. You want to save people’s lives then you need to put in the work to study medicine. You want to buy a house then you need to put the work in to be a good steward over your finances.
It’s the same with faith. God isn’t going to give you greater faith while you’re in your comfort zone. What’s the point? You have all the faith you need to be there. Any more faith would be a waste.
No, rather He wants to see you get some skin in the game and get out of the boat.
Imagine that moment for Peter, the first step out of the boat. Peter was literally stepping into instability. He was stepping into territory which by natural law should have seen him sink. But he doesn’t. Instead, that which was unstable becomes stable, that which was liquid becomes like solid ground. It doesn’t make any sense! But since when has walking on water ever made sense?
My moment of stepping out of the boat (sacrificing a comfortable, stable salary to enter the start-up space) didn’t make much sense to my friends or family. But to me it just made sense. Jesus calls, you answer. Isn’t that what we sing about almost every Sunday? It’s not that my dear friends lacked faith, rather the step of faith I was taking sat outside of human logic. It didn’t make practical sense. My parents had always told me you don’t quit a job until you have another one lined up and here I was with no job lined up and no desire to pursue one anytime soon. It didn’t make sense. But since when did anything God has ever done sat within the realms of human logic?
God does not exist in the realm of human logic. Look at any story in the Bible – any one of them – and you will see the Lord existing outside the realms of human logic.
March around these walls for seven days and seven nights and they will fall down.
Go before the King who has the ability to chop your head off if you do and plead for My people.
Hey Israel, the sky will basically rain food every morning for you.
Moses keep your arms raised and I will make sure Israel win this battle.
Abraham, I will make you the Father of many nations but right now I want you to take your son Isaac and sacrifice him.
Take My Son, nail Him to a cross and I will raise Him three days later so that you and I can be in a relationship.
None of these things (and so many more) made any sense in the midst of them happening. We can look back now on them and go “well, look how the Lord was working!” but would we have said the same thing at the time? Hindsight is always 20/20 and easy to say you would have done the same from your comfort zone.
But imagine what life could be like if we were willing to lay down our human logic and exist in the sacred space of possibility? What would it be like if you got out of the boat?
Article supplied with thanks to Neri Morris.
About the Author: Neri is an author, speaker and entrepreneur who enjoys exploring the mess created when faith and life collide. Her latest book Single Me: Learning to Love The Unwanted Path of Singleness is out now. Download a free sample chapter here.