I grew up in a home of believers. My parents were both raised in the church, we read the Bible together as a family every night after dinner, we were at church “every time the doors were open” and Bible stories/doctrine were common conversation. We became so familiar with stories and verses that we would joke Scripture to each other. One of us picked up a song put to the melody of “Frere Jacques” from Rev 21.8:
Revelation, Revelation, Twenty-one eight, twenty-one eight, Liars go to Hell, liars go to Hell, Burn, burn, burn. Burn, burn, burn.
It is quite irreverent, I know. But as a child and youth, it certainly served its purpose of helping maintain a healthy fear of God and keeping His statutes! And, of course, it was a good way to taunt my sisters.
But one phrase of Jesus that we, as a family, would often quote to one another and with which we would tease was “Oh ye of little faith”. (My father still reads the King James Version, and most verses I memorized as a child were in Old English). You are afraid to jump off the diving board? Oh ye of little faith. You do not think I can get ready in time? Oh ye of little faith. You are afraid I will wreck the car, again? Oh ye of little faith.
But this week I was reading the story of Jesus walking on the water. In the midst of the storm, He walked out on the sea to reach the boat where His disciples were, and they were afraid:
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, 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, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.
– Matt 14.22-32
It caught my attention as I read this time that Peter believed Jesus when He declared His identity, and he got out of the boat and walked on the water to meet Jesus. He was the only disciple to request of Jesus and to get out of the boat and to walk on the water with Jesus. Only when he was out away from the boat and became fearful of the waves did he become frightened and doubt. And Jesus called him a person of little faith.
Have you ever walked on water? I mean literally. We like to allegorize this story and apply it to our walks of faith. And while I think it is extremely helpful to remember that we must keep our eyes on Jesus and trust Him, even when the going gets tough and the proverbial waves begin to overtake us, Jesus states very clearly that faith the size of a mustard seed will leave nothing impossible for the believer (Matt 17.20). That was in the context of casting demons out of people and exhibiting Spiritual authority, with the understanding that nothing is impossible for God or the believer when asked according to God’s will (Luke 1.37, 1 John 5.14).
Now, please don’t hear me incorrectly, I do not believe that if we have enough faith we will be able to walk on water. I believe that God uses miracles for the furthering of the Gospel and the provision of His people, but not that He doles out supernatural powers just for the fun of it. But imagine the depth of faith it took for Peter to do it. He did not even have the story in the Bible to reflect on, He just trusted Jesus and did it. But then He doubted and became afraid, and Jesus chastised him as one with little faith.
To what extent to you expect God to keep His word? I find it curious that we say that we trust God with our eternity but not with the small and trivial things. Do you trust God to provide food and clothing? Because Jesus promises that He will. He knows what His children need and is a good father (Matt 6.8, 25-34). Do you trust Him to provide work? Support? Faith? Everything that you need? Or do you leave Him on the sidelines to handle Heaven while you deal with everything else?
Will you get out of the boat? Because getting out of the boat and walking a short distance, on the water, is the mark of only little faith. Let us ask God to give us faith, His great gift to us, such that Jesus will praise and marvel at our faith like He did the Samaritan woman and the Centurian (Matt 8.10, 15.28).
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
– Eph 2.8-9