Learning to Swim

Monday, June 14, 2021
Just A Thought...
We have two children. One approaches life with caution, the other approaches life at full speed. Raising two children with such polar opposite personalities has been an adventure. As they have grown up we have approached teaching them new skills in very different ways. One wants the reassurance that I'm not going to let go, the other demands I let go long before I feel comfortable doing so.
When our daughter was first learning how to swim we enrolled her in swim lessons through our local YMCA. She took in everything the teachers were telling her and would not let go of the side of the pool or leave the step without knowing someone was there. We were too late to the game when our son was learning how to swim. He saw a body of water and went running 90 MPH towards it. We demanded he wear a floatation device of some sort, all he was concerned about was having his goggles.
Even in the two very different approaches to learning how to swim, there came a time in which they encountered the diving board for the first time. Even as daring as our son was, he, along with his sister, demanded I be there to catch him when he jumped. At first it was a very difficult task trying to keep myself afloat in the deep end while they mustered up the courage to jump, not to mention catching them when they finally did. multiple times they both asked, "Are you going to catch me?" And I always responded by promising, "I'll be right here."
As challenging as it was, I was always right there. Floating in the water. Ready to catch them when they took that leap of faith.

The story of Peter walking out onto the water to Jesus creates a beautiful collision of faith and doubt. If we begin to break this story down into each little detail, we find Peter in a place where most of us are daily if we were honest.
As the disciples are out on the boat just as Jesus tells them to do, a storm arises. Matthew's narrative says:
The boat was already some distance from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. Jesus came toward them walking on the sea very early in the morning.
Two details we can know from Matthew's text. One, this is not just a gentle breeze blowing the boat across the water, this is a storm. And this storm is causing problems as it pounds against their boat. We can assume, although some of them are experienced fishermen, this is a fear-inducing experience. The second thing we can begin to understand about this moment is that it has been while since they set sail from the shore. This would mean they are a significant distance from where Jesus was, and we might assume this storm has been happening for a while.
Once He arrives to the boat Jesus immediately speaks into the moment:
"Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Before we can get into the moment of faith which Peter demonstrates by stepping out of the boat, we first encounter Peter's moment of doubt:
"Lord, if it's you, command me to come to you on the water."
Jesus has already informed the disciples who He was, but Peter needs a further affirmation. Another possible way of understanding this conversation is, "I see you, I hear you, but Jesus I need to really know it's you because what I'm seeing and what I'm hearing doesn't exactly match up with how I understand the laws of nature and gravity work." And Jesus, being confident in who Jesus is, responds to Peter's request:
If you remember from yesterday, this is, just as Peter requested, a command from Jesus. It's the same word Jesus uses when He commands a demon to come out of a man. This is the same word Jesus uses when He says if anyone should come after me they must deny themselves. This word serves as the precursor to Jesus post-resurrection command to:
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
We are much like Peter. Before he was willing to take that first step out of the boat he was filled with doubt. He wanted to be reassured Jesus was in fact who He said He was. This is what keeps most believers from experiencing the full transformation which comes through faith in Christ. When our understanding of how life works doesn't add up to what God is calling us to do, we find ourselves still sitting in the boat. On one hand we can credit Peter for stepping out of the boat while the others never did. On the other hand we can at least acknowledge they were in the boat in the first place. But for all of us, when we're asking if He's going to be there when we take that step, the answer will always be, "I'll be right here."

Grace & peace,

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