When I was about five, we had a big hot tub. It sat in our garage, and when we lifted the garage door, we had a great view of the Colorado Rockies. I loved swimming around in it, jumping out and rolling in the snow, and jumping back in. I didn’t even have to wear my life jacket because it was shallow enough I could touch the bottom with my toes while my head was still out of the water.
One day, after hearing the story about Peter walking on the water, I decided I wanted to try it. After all, Jesus helped Peter do it; why couldn’t He help me do it? I stood at the top step and studied the smooth water. I imagined what it would be like, walking across that glassy surface with my bare feet. It seemed so simple.
I took a step. SPLASH!
Hmm. Well, maybe I’ll try it again. SPLASH!
And again. SPLASH!
This wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Suddenly I had a lot more respect for Peter and Jesus’ walking on the water. But the funny thing is, even though I remember being somewhat disappointed each time, I wasn’t crushed. No matter how many times I tried and fell, I really believed it could happen somehow, someday. Maybe when I am older, I thought.
Ah, the faith of a child. Why do I have such a hard time believing like that now? Just because God doesn’t answer in the way I want, at the exact time that I want, in a way I can understand right now–SPLASH–I give up. Maybe that wasn’t really Jesus calling me. SPLASH! I tried praying big prayers of faith, and God didn’t seem to move at all. SPLASH! I’m tired of getting wet. So I stop stepping out in faith, and settle for something a little more predictable, more manageable. I settle for survival.
But in my despair, I am forgetting the times God has answered prayer. I’ve seen Him work miracles and change lives. I’ve seen Him work things out in my own life in amazing ways. But for some reason, those aren’t the things I tend to think about when the current challenge stares me in the face. The water doesn’t look glassy any more, and it’s sure to be a cold and maybe dangerous place I fall into if God doesn’t come through. So how do I have that faith again? That faith that believes that it will be worth the risk–even if it hurts–because it is only by faith that I can experience His presence in all circumstances.
Perhaps it comes in the short prayer uttered to Jesus by a desperate father: “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Perhaps it’s not in our mental ability to conjure up confidence in God, or the power of our imagination to help us believe. Our hope does not lie in ourselves. It lies in Jesus–in coming to Him, just as we are, weak in faith, and doubting every step of the way, with that same prayer on our lips: “Lord, help my unbelief.” Or as Peter said, just as desperate as he was sinking in his unbelief: “Lord, save me!”
Lord, give us the faith of Water-Walkers. To be ok with not understanding how it all works. To keep believing, even when we get wet. To keep getting back up and trying again and again, knowing it will be worth it. To look to you when we need help to believe, and Your strong hand to keep us from drowning. And to one day realize that this dream of faith that You’ve planted in us is coming true as we find ourselves…walking on water.
“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
‘Come,’ he said.” (Matt. 14:28, 29)
*Twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers. This was sent on February 24, 2014.