One of my favorite Gospel stories is Matthew 14:22-33, the story of Jesus walking on water. In fact, I like this story so much, there’s a large painting of this scene in my office.
We’ve all heard this reading at least once in our lives… How the disciples were in a storm, they get scared, Jesus shows up and calls Peter out of the boat, Peter gets out…walks…sinks… and Jesus comes to the rescue. The Gospel of the Lord!
But the details of the story are what really get my attention.
The disciples are in their boat “being tossed about by the waves for the wind was against it.” Translation: things were probably a little tense on deck. To add to the situation, they think they see a ghost walking towards them on the sea. But then Scripture tells us that “At once Jesus spoke to them, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid’” (Mt 14:27). Peter speaks up “Lord if it is you command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus says “Come.” (14:28-29)
Imagine the intensity of that moment for Peter. The wind and waves are blowing hard, the disciples are trying to get everything under control, so the boat doesn’t sink, there may or may not be a ghost out on the water, and Peter decides that this would be a good moment to trust Christ with his life.
And he does.
Peter takes a step, another step, but then something happens. He loses eye contact. Scripture says that “when Peter saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord save me!’” (14:30) And notice that Jesus doesn’t laugh and allow Peter to drown. It says, “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him and said to him ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ After they got into the boat, the wind died down” (14:31-32).
Lent is an excellent time for us to look for moments to “get out of the boat” and follow Christ. Lent calls us to step out of our comfort zones and seek the Lord, trusting Him with everything.
It is also a time when we realize that Christ does not just call us out of the boat when life is calm and peaceful. Just like the disciples were trying to get control of their boat and their fear, sometimes God uses the storms of our daily lives to invite us to trust Him even more.
And there will be moments when we will lose eye contact with Him. There will be moments when we focus so much on the to do lists, deadlines, problems, illnesses, and all the “winds and waves” of life that we will forget who is out there walking this journey with us.
But Christ does not abandon us.
While it might not always feel like Jesus immediately stretches out His hand, He is always there.
As we begin our Lenten journey, let’s take some time to ask God How are you calling me out of the boat this Lent?
What are those things that are keeping me from trusting Christ with everything? What are the “wind and waves” in my life that are taking my attention away from the Lord?
This Lent, let’s pray for the grace to be at peace, to walk on water, and to embrace the call to be not afraid.