Sinking. It’s a bad feeling. On the way down we feel ourselves begin to suffocate! Sinking can only happen if we have stepped out onto the water, like Peter. It is only experienced after one has actually been afloat…and then something happens. The wind, pelting rain, isolation– everyone else stays in the boat, like ‘reasonable’ people, and we begin to falter. We’ve all experienced it one way or another. Income decreases, healing is delayed, relationships are difficult, pain continues, the way is lost in the midst of life, the storm stirs and sinking ensues…
Circumstances definitely rock the boat, but in the story of Peter’s sinking, it wasn’t the outside influence of the wind which caused him to begin to sink. It was his response to the wind: Fear. It could be any number of responses other than faith which tie a rock to our ankle and cause us to begin to sink: discouragement, self-righteous anger, resolve to take control, humiliation, apathy, pride. The bottom line is that Peter doubted the One who called him to step out onto the liquid floor. I can definitely relate to Peter; even this morning as I sat at God’s feet, I laid my fears there, only to snatch them up again with the next breath. Experiencing the winds of life often brings some form of mis-trust of the Savior and I, like Peter, deny Christ. There is a lot to learn from Peter. But, the One to really observe in this story is Jesus.
Look at Jesus. Look at His response to Peter.
The passage tells us, “And beginning to sink, [Peter] cries out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him.” Amy Carmichael, missionary to China, wrote on this passage, “How many seconds lie between a man’s beginning to sink, and his actual sinking? A single second or less, I suppose. How swift, then, was the movement of love! And as He was, so He is.”
Jesus saved Peter. He called Peter to experience the height of the joy of faith and obedience. He also let Peter experience the fierce wind, the severe rain, the rocking waves. Jesus had not changed between Peter’s joy and fear, Peter’s focus had. So it is with me, and maybe you. When I choose to focus on the wind instead of Jesus, I begin to sink. As my ankles begin to get wet, I am reminded I have only one sure life boat. Jesus.
David, King of Israel, tells us over and over about times he felt he was sinking. Every time David doubts, he, like Peter, cries out to God. One particular time is recorded in Psalm 60. David’s people are experiencing defeat– ‘the wind,’ so to speak. David cries out to God, “Save with Thy right hand and hear me.” Charles Spurgeon comments on this prayer saying that God begins the business of saving even before the prayer is finished. Immediately.
A bit earlier in the Bible, a short story in 2 Kings tells of a borrowed axehead dropping into the river and sinking. The servant who had borrowed the axehead is distressed. He asks for help from God’s man, the prophet Elisha. Elisha threw a stick into the water and God caused the axehead to float so that it could be recovered.
If God is so concerned with a borrowed axehead sinking and causes it to float, just think what He can and will do for His own who begin to sink. An axehead, David’s army, Peter, a man, a woman, me, you. He reaches out His hand to save. Saving is His business. He is not too slow and nothing is too small.
There is hope in His outstretched hand and His loving heart.