Fear is such a powerful emotion that is very present in our lives and in the world. There is always fear. Fear of failure. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of heights. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of losing someone. Fear of losing ourselves. Fear of consequences. And the list goes on. In some way or another we have all experienced fear. I don’t know about you but for me this pandemic has brought up so much fear. Am I paying enough attention to the kids? Am I going to have a job? Am I going to get sick? Is someone I love going to get sick? How am I going to handle work and my kids’ school? Fear is always there.
Fear is at the heart of Matthew 14:22-36. Peter teaches us about fear and how fear can paralyze/drain/debilitate us. We hear Jesus tell the disciples “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Mt 14:27) Now Peter was afraid even before Jesus called him out of the boat. But he stepped out anyway. He starts walking on the water “towards Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Mt 14:29-30)
Peter’s fear paralyzed him and he began to sink. It made me think of all the fears that are in my heart now and how they may be stopping from walking towards Jesus. I feel like I can relate to Peter. I get afraid, have faith and do it, and then the fear sets in again. Even now, as I write this the fear has set in. Will it be well received? What are people going to say? Does it make sense?
Reflecting on this gospel made me realize that fear is ok. Fear is normal, I mean we are human after all. But we cannot get stuck or drown in our fear. We must face our fears. Peter wanted to walk on water so he faced the fear and stepped out. And just like Peter, once we step out we may be faced with fear again and start to sink. But we know that Jesus will stretch out his hand to help us.
So, what are the fears that are holding you back? What is making you anxious or nervous? Will you take Jesus’ hand when he reaches out to you to help? Challenge yourself to get out of the boat, even if you have to cry out “Lord, Save me” (Mt 14:30). Like John Ortberg says in his book, “I want to invite you to go for a walk. On the water. Just remember one thing: If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat” (From If you Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat)
So don’t be afraid to step out of the boat, walk on water, and if the fear sets in call on Jesus to help. But delight in the fact that YOU GOT OUT OF THE BOAT!
P.S. If you haven’t seen/heard this…take this to prayer