Upon seeing Jesus walking on the water, Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus tells him to come and so Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water. Peter becomes frightened when he notices a strong wind and he begins to sink. A strong wind could be a real concern for a fisherman who relied on the wind to power the boat, but it could have also been nothing more than a distraction. We are all distracted at times, and we tend to loss our focus on doing what strengthens our faith. We fall away from the practices that fill our hearts with peace and we, too, experience fear.
Before 911, before the creation of Homeland Security, I was taking a management course in which the professor suggested that fear was becoming a driving force in society. Powered by technology, the internet, and 24-hour worldwide news reporting, people were becoming more concerned with their own personal safety. Home and internet security was becoming big business. Sadly, he was right. People today have become much more concerned about safety and when I went to a concert in Houston last week I had to walk through a metal detector while the guards searched through the bags of anyone carrying one. The next night, I again had to walk through a metal detector and have my umbrella inspected in order to get into a baseball stadium.
I’m not suggesting precautions such as these are wrong, but as a society we are spending more and more energy on protecting ourselves from any number of possible threats to our safety – almost to the point of becoming obsessed by it making us unable to focus on the good that surrounds us. We can easily become distracted by fearing what might happen and find ourselves sinking into the water as Peter did. There is much to fear in our lives, but it is important that our lives not be driven by fear. Faith can enable us to face our fears with the confidence that we are not alone and that whatever the outcome, God is with us.
After Peter realizes he is sinking, he calls out to Jesus, who reaches out and offers him a hand, before he asks, “Why did you doubt?” I think doubt is a given. And though Peter’s faith was not sufficient to keep his him from sinking, but it was enough to keep it from going beneath the surface. When he realized his limitations, he turned back to Jesus who offered him a hand.
Let us pray.
Lord Christ, you call us to you and pick us up when we fail. Fill us with your grace that we might have the strength of faith to do your work in our community. We offer our prayer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.