Peter in the Boat

This blog was shared as the closing comments to the Steadfast Doxa recitals held April 11 - 13, 2024 at Paramount Baptist Church.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

A story from the Bible that I memorized as a child with my dad is this:

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And after he had sent the multitudes away, he went up on a mountain by himself to pray. And when it was evening, he was there alone, but the boat was already many yards away from the land, battered by the waves for the wind was contrary. In the fourth watch of the night Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they cried out for fear, “It’s a ghost!” But immediately Jesus said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind and the waves, he became afraid and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son.”

This story came suddenly into my mind about a month ago, and in its familiarity a facet I had never considered struck me. It occurred to me that when Jesus saved Peter from his doubt-induced near drowning, He could have pulled him up and taken Him by the hand, and skipped across the sea. Jesus certainly was capable. And then Peter, suddenly able to conquer his fears and exercise his faith — because Jesus is now here and it is all better! — would have had a victory. But instead, they get back into the boat. Jesus did quiet the storm. Th wind and the waves stopped. But presumably Peter, as he worships with the others, sat in the boat, shivering and soaked to the bone with his own failure. But Jesus was there, in that, with him too. Not a moment of victory for Peter but a moment of humility, as Jesus gently teaches His disciples about faith.

I recently had a year or two that felt like walking on water. Growth in my own faith. Deepening conviction. Bravery. Finally stepping out in faith in our adoption process after years of praying for direction. I felt bolder in my willingness to connect, to teach and disciple others, to lead. I felt less afraid. And there was joy and laughter at seeing His hand move mountains, crush strongholds, and bring what was dead to life. But then, in a moment, the glassy surface gave way and I was gasping for air. Confused, hurt, betrayed, and angrier than I’ve ever been. And the waves kept crashing and the ringing in my ears drowned out His voice. And not just me, but my whole family, especially my wonderful husband — we were struggling to breathe. Almost lost at sea.

I’m not still drowning. Most days you wouldn’t know I ever was. But sometimes I feel like I should be out there again, standing on the water, but all I’m doing is shivering in the boat. Fearful that one step on the water will cause the hateful waves to swell again and pull me under. And I have asked God more than once what was the point of that temporary swell of bravery, or faith, if I am powerless to sustain it.

But then He whispers to me — the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

Because it was never me. It’s not you. And it wasn’t Peter. We know that night on the stormy sea was not even Peter’s most profound lack of faith. He still has three denials and a rooster crow to get through. And Jesus knew that. But He called him anyway, and He saved him anyway. And He sits with him in His apparent failure and weakness, anyway. Because the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

If you are in Christ, if you know that He has saved you through His death and resurrection, then hear me say that this steadfast, never-ceasing love is yours and will meet you in the darkest days. Even when you do not feel it or see it, He is there and He is never letting go. If you do not know Jesus, then do not waste one more day of your life without Him. This life is too hard. And while He does not promise us a life of ease and prosperity and skipping on the sea, He does promise that He is near to the broken-hearted, that there is peace that passes all understanding that comes only from Him, and that nothing can snatch those who are His out of His hand. Ultimately, and more beautifully than we can imagine, He promises eternal life to those who trust in Him. A life enjoying fully that steadfast love, forever. And our God keeps His promises.

Written by Brittanie Wooten


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!