“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 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.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” He said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
During this time last year, I hit rough waters emotionally and spiritually, and I didn’t understand what the Lord was doing in what felt like a storm. He was a ghost to me, walking on the waves as I shook in fear on the boat beneath me.
Remember when the disciples had been directed by Jesus to go on their way and cross the Sea of Galilee in a boat, just to be near death in a terrible ocean storm?
Jesus was a ghost to them because they couldn’t see Him clearly in the fog.
Have you ever been in that kind of season? Jesus is there, but you just can’t seem to see Him clearly through your circumstances? Yet we see the specific words of Matthew 14: “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat.”
This verse recently caught my attention and forced me to ask this question: Jesus makes us get into the boat that leads to our storm?
But He meets us there.
And isn’t it interesting that He appeared when the storm was at its worst? Do you resonate with the feeling of God being late? Of his making you wait when it doesn’t seem it can get much worse?
But He comes. Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples and says, “It’s me. Don’t be afraid. I am here.”
During the storm that I was in, the scripture in James 1:4 stood out to me. I wrote the verse largely on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker, so I had to see it every day:
“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The Message paraphrase says it like this:
“So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
I perceived Jesus was saying this to me: “I’m here. I sent you to this place. This season. You are being trained to trust Me. I know you’re scared. But I am with you. And you will look back on this season well-developed, mature and stronger in your faith in Me than before.”
Then I started thinking about Peter and his response to Jesus in that story. He walked on the water and then nearly drowned in doubt. When we start to see Jesus in our circumstances, we have a choice: To trust Him or to take matters into our own hands. Do you ever wonder why Peter got out of the boat? His very question was, “If it’s you, call me to you.” Jesus had just revealed Himself, but Peter wanted more proof!
And Jesus met him there in his doubt. He invited Peter to walk on water. He could have said, Don’t you believe me? I just told you who I am and that I am here and you don’t need to be afraid of this storm. But instead He meets Peter where He is and shows Himself to Peter in a way that would not only encourage Peter’s faith to mature, but to encourage all believers who would someday read this story and relate to the scene.
So is maturing you what God is doing through these waves of adversity?
If you look at other verses on maturity in Scripture, you will see verses like these:
Hebrews 12:11, “It is the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”
I am beginning to truly understand and experience that with training comes the pain of endurance—storms of all kinds that Jesus leads me into. I can’t think of an example where training of any kind does not involve something hard.
If it’s physical training, it is a building up of muscle and stamina and great determination, which initially is so hard that I am tempted to quit before I start. But then I start to see the results of better health and energy, and it was worth the perseverance.
If it is job training, it is a time of learning cultures and structures, methods and skills and, for me, it feels like drinking from the firehose in the beginning. But after a while, I start to see the hard work pay off, and I feel empowered from the new challenges and the fruit of my labor.
I find if it is spiritual training, it is the knowledge and discernment to see my circumstances as a storm to be conquered and not a place to die. A valley to cross through in order to reach the mountain. A growth spurt for my soul, if I can push through the pain through prayer. To trust that His peace surpasses all understanding, if I will let it.
Jesus pushed those disciples into that storm. And then He met them there. And He encountered Peter in a new way.
I think the maturity of our faith journey looks a lot like this, when we may not recognize Jesus, and instead we fear what He is up to. If we truly know Him, we should be in anticipation that He is always here, and He is going to calm us even if He doesn’t calm our surroundings.
The storms are making us more like Him. He makes us go and then He meets us there, and He encourages our feeble, but ever-growing progress in trusting Him.