On Peter’s Doubt

This week we began the season of Lent. This morning when I asked my students what “Lent” is they either had one of two answers:
1.  Belly gunk
2. When you give up something for 40 days and make everyone around you miserable.

Ha.

We began the series in our church with the story found in Matthew 14:23-32:  Jesus insists that the disciples get onto a boat at sea, even though it is evening. Jewish culture believed that evil was at sea in the nighttime, but Jesus insists they go. Jesus is setting them up to be in a place of vulnerability, because, how else do you learn?  Jesus is away praying, and the storms come. Jesus walks on the water towards the boat, and the disciples think it’s a ghost–after all, they knew it was a bad idea to get on the boat!

Peter, who is my spirit animal disciple, cries out, “Jesus, if it’s really you, I want to walk too.”  This is why Peter is my spirit animal–he sees Jesus doing something, and he immediately wants to emulate it. Not a lot of thought goes into it; he just does.  But Peter gets caught in the waves and begins to sink, so he cries out to Jesus to save him. And Jesus says, “Why do you doubt?” and saves him.

I’ve always heard this story summed up as, “You need to just trust Jesus more.”

But oh, how that misses the point.

Peter didn’t doubt Jesus. Peter knew that Jesus could walk on water, he knew that Jesus could allow Peter to, and he knew that Jesus could save him when he began to sink.

What Peter didn’t trust in was his own ability to follow Jesus.

Again, I resonate with Peter, and I’m sure you do, too: So many times we hop out of the boat, eager to follow Jesus. But as soon as the waves begin to happen in life, we lose faith…not in God himself, but in our own ability to follow him.

But here’s the cool thing: Even when you don’t think you can follow him on your own, Jesus pulls you up and saves you.

The important thing is to just jump out of the boat.

So, what are the waves that keep you distracted?  What are the lies you believe that keep you from believing that you’re capable of being like Christ?

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