Is God Calling You to Step Out of the Boat?

Wendy BerghaneBy Wendy Berghane6 Minutes

One of my very favorite moments in the entire Bible happens when Jesus calls a very anxious and fearful Peter out of the boat. Every time I read it, study it, or think about it, it just hits me in so many places.

A quick recap to refresh your mind: Jesus had just finished turning five loaves and two fish into enough food to feed a crowd of 5,000 people—people who had followed him looking for their chance to hear from him or be healed by him. As he finished ministering to them, he dismissed the crowd and sent his disciples ahead of him on a boat, so he could have some time alone to pray. As evening fell, a huge windstorm erupted, and the water was rough. Jesus headed out to the boat (by walking on the water), but when the disciples saw him, they thought he was a ghost. Jesus tried to calm them down and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:22-33).

Peter then said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus told him to come, and Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. What a beautiful moment—until Peter saw and heard the wind. In a split second, Peter went from trusting Jesus and taking refuge in his power and love to lacking trust in the power of our Savior; he started to literally drown. He called out to Jesus, and Jesus grabbed his hand. Then Jesus asked, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Don’t Sink in Doubt

That scene resonates so deep in my soul. I love Jesus. I love and trust him so much. Yet when life gets scary, I can start to sink in an instant, losing my focus on the power of Jesus and shifting my thoughts and impulses to trying to save myself (or my kids, or other people’s relationships, etc.). I can go from a God-loving, Jesus-worshipping, mountaintop-high praying believer to a doubter in a second. In my rational moments, I don’t understand why I do it. I go over the laundry list of days, times, and seasons when God moved mountains, cleared paths, healed me, held me up, blessed me, or changed me. I can clearly articulate his power and goodness in my life. But when that moment hits, when something strikes fear or worry or uncertainty, I lose that God-centered focus and sink into the heartache and chaos that trying to save myself (or others) brings. But our gracious Savior is there, standing strong, already victorious over the battle, already in charge of the outcome, and he grabs my hand. And I ask myself, “Why did I doubt?”

An Opportunity to Refocus

Like anything, learning to face battles and not lose our God-centered focus takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes recognition, repentance, and hard work to try to see the windstorm brewing before it takes you down. It’s a discipline—an opportunity for spiritual growth. Lent is the time in the Christian community when we focus on spiritual growth. People approach Lent in different ways. Some give up something, a vice or bad habit, for the duration of the season. Some take on new healthier habits or disciplines. Some engage in Bible studies or fasting. There is no “right way” to go about the Lenten season, but it is an awesome opportunity to gather your family and together work on your growth in God.

Lent isn’t just for adults. Children absolutely have the ability to understand certain spiritual disciplines and grow in their faith. And what a beautiful opportunity for families to talk about God, talk about their faith struggles, and take on learning and growing together. Our kids struggle with so many of the same things we do—things like worry, doubt, and anger. And they develop bad habits and lose focus just like we do. Lent can be a time for families to recognize each other’s struggles and help lift each other up as we learn to lean on God. What an amazing gift to kids and families.

I am not sure what my Lenten discipline will be yet. I have lots of things to work on, and I am already praying and asking God to help me recognize what the focus of this Lenten season should be for me. I challenge you to do the same. And see how God works in you and your family during this Lenten season. A time to reflect on God and how he is working our lives always blesses us.