As disciples of Christ we cannot avoid His challenge to step out in faith. But when we do, He is always there to empower us in our walk into the supernatural things of God. All we need to do is fix our eyes on Jesus and walk towards Him, and Him in us accomplishes the impossible.
But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)
In all honesty, I have to confess that I wouldn’t have the faith or courage to even try to walk on water. One of the things I love about Peter is his sheer spontaneity. He lived in the moment, larger than life, and I believe that this was the reason Jesus chose Him. He had a kind of childlike boldness that didn’t stop to rationalise. That said, it was also this exuberance that often got him into trouble. He spoke without thinking, rash words and rash actions that nevertheless displayed a passion for Christ. Throughout his relationship with Jesus, we see him either step out in faith or retreat in fear. But after the resurrection and his restoration, we see a changed man. He lost none of the boldness and passion. But it was tempered by wisdom and grace which could only come from Jesus.
Jesus challenges us to step out in faith.
There was no ‘sensible’ reason for Peter to step out of the boat. At face value, we can easily write it off as Peter’s impetuousness. The problem with this is Christ’s response. He does not chide or rebuke Peter. On the contrary, He encourages Him to step out in faith. That fact alone is a lesson for us. Jesus never tells us to remain safely in the boat. Instead, He challenges us to come to Him. This has deeper implications, though. His challenge is that we emulate Him – do as He is doing. If He walks on water, so should we. It’s a challenge that strikes at the very heart of our claim to be His disciples. He Himself mentioned the ‘greater works’ He expects from us. Not only the great works He accomplished but greater works. The message is that we are to live like Jesus in the supernatural.
To step out in faith is a challenge in and of itself. Our nature is always to batten the hatches and hang on. Logic tells us that only fools step out of the relative safety of the boat and expect to walk on water. Especially with a sea as wild and stormy as it was that night. But Jesus comes to us daily with a challenge. For many of us, simply learning to live by faith is difficult. The very thought of stepping out of the boat is madness. But Jesus still says ‘come’ to each of us. The challenge is to leave our comfortable Christianity and step out in faith to where He is. While grace and peace and joy always apply, where Jesus is will not always be easy. There are difficulties, obstacles, and even resistance for every believer who steps beyond their safe-boat.
To step out in faith is always supernatural.
Faith for the natural isn’t faith. It’s a reliance on the natural, explainable, easily achievable things. But when Jesus comes with His challenge, the natural ceases to be effective. We cannot rely on what we know or what we can do. To step out in faith is to leave the known and step out into the unknown. We’re called to leave behind everything we know and trust. The familiar stability and strength is stripped away. At this point, all we have is Jesus. Self remains behind, cowering in the boat and protesting loudly. Everything logical and rational screams reasons why we shouldn’t. Yet something impels us to step out over the gunwale and start walking. Nothing makes sense in the natural. What we’re attempting is impossible, yet attempt it we must. Our spirit rises to the challenge and nudges us towards the great unknown.
This is faith in action. It’s our spiritual response to a supernatural call. When we think of Christ here on earth, it’s as a man. And that’s true. He lived, ministered, and died as a natural man, human like us. This view can limit our perception of what it really means to step out in faith. We limit our view to the ‘natural’ Jesus rather than the supernatural Jesus. Christ is spirit. All He does is supernatural. When He tells us to step out of the boat, it’s to step into the supernatural. As the risen, ascended, glorified Son of God, He cannot do anything natural. His challenge is to forget the boat – the natural – and step out into the unknown – the supernatural. He calls us to the place where all thing are possible. But it’s also the place where the natural things we rely on cannot operate.
We always step out in faith towards Jesus.
In all fairness, Peter did pause for a moment before He stepped out the boat. This was to be assured that it really was Christ. In other words, he didn’t see what he thought was Jesus and immediately step overboard. It was only when Christ said ‘come’ that he threw his natural self aside an obeyed. His purpose was towards Jesus, and it’s still ours today. To step out in faith is always to move towards Jesus. Which is why being sure that it really is Him is so important. We’ve all stepped out in faith with great enthusiasm without taking time to check. When Jesus calls, He’ll empower us to walk on water or whatever else He calls us to. But godly wisdom makes certain that we hear the voice of Lord rather than self. If the call doesn’t lead us to Jesus, it’s not His call.
This means we need to get to know Jesus. We need to recognise Him and His voice. This is the only way that we safeguard ourselves. At all times and in all things, we must be sure that we move towards Him. Then and only then can we step out in faith. But to move towards Jesus is far more than simply having faith. It means that as we step out, He begins to transform us. As self is left in the boat, He releases more of Himself in us. We leave self behind and move towards the nature and character of Christ. This is the supernatural outworking of faith. We manifest Christ in supernatural ways in our lives and to the world. Stepping into the supernatural means there is no place for the natural. The closer we move to Jesus, the more His supernatural life infuses and transforms us.
To step out in faith we must keep looking at Jesus.
This was Peter’s critical mistake. While He looked at Jesus, He achieved the impossible. He achieved the supernatural by walking on water. But when he took His eyes off Christ, he saw only the billowing waves. The crucial factor when we step out in faith is to keep our eyes on Him. The moment we look down, we see the problem. When we lose sight of Him and look around, we see the impossible in the natural. That’s when faith wavers and we begin to sink beneath the billowing waves. I don’t doubt for a moment that if Peter had kept his gaze on Jesus, he’d have continued without a problem. They’d have met up and set off together back to the others. But how many times has a similar thing happened to each one of us? Remember, self is in the boat, wailing loudly.
We start off in absolute faith. But along the way, we chance a look around and find ourselves floundering. The voice of self is heard, whispering doubts and caveats. The enemy will likely also get a word or two in. After all, the powers of darkness don’t want to see God’s people step out in faith. Suddenly, it’s as if the supernatural power drains away. We sink beneath the rolling waves, desperately crying out to Christ. If Peter’s life teaches us nothing else, it reveals that all great men of God are intensely human. We have to keep looking at Jesus. Remember, His call is supernatural. Putting our eyes on the natural – on the problem – disconnects us from Christ’s supernatural power. Our natural wisdom and abilities cannot do it. We cannot do it. When we step out in faith, it is Christ who does it in and through us.
When we step out in faith, Jesus is always there.
This is the really good news. A call to step out in faith is always from Jesus, so He will always be there. He doesn’t expect us to do what we cannot. Instead, He calls us to step out into what He can do. When He calls, He empowers through His living presence. When Peter failed, Jesus was quick to point out that his faith had failed. Failure only happens when we lose sight of Christ. But still, despite our weakness and foolishness, He is always there to haul us up and keep us from drowning. That’s a promise we need to take hold of. We cannot expect to follow Jesus and not be challenged to step out in faith. God intends that we live in the supernatural – us in Christ and Christ in us. The mainstay of our faith is that He is there with us.
Lord, forgive us if we have missed the call or perhaps even avoided it. Thank You for reminding us that we are called to live supernaturally in You. Help us to fix our eyes on You – to know You and hear You and to obey You. Give us Your courage to step out in faith when You call. Thank You, Lord, for the assurance that You are with us every step of the way.