Read: “Living in the Now,” When You Come Unglued . . . Stick Close to God, pages 71-81.
I’ve always loved the story of Peter and Jesus during the storm ( Matthew 14: 22-33). I love to imagine the scene: The disciples are dozing quietly on the boat; Jesus is on the shore, having some quiet time. Then, a storm comes. A big storm. A wind-howling storm. Wave after wave threatens to swamp the boat. The disciples are terrified. They ask themselves, “Is this the end?”
Then, the disciples see Jesus, walking across the water toward them. What a heart-stopping sight that must have been! Some of the disciples think they are seeing a ghost, but Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus replies, “Come”.
So Peter leaps out of the boat and walks through the wind and the waves to Jesus. All goes well until Peter realizes where he is, and at that moment, Peter starts to sink. Poor Peter. He takes his eyes off Jesus, and at that moment, his rational mind realizes the impossibility of what he is doing—and the water begins to overtake him.
In my book When You Come Unglued . . . Stick Close to God, I explain the state of living completely in the now as flow. When we live in the flow, we have no thoughts of yesterday, no worries about tomorrow, and no anxieties for today. Some people describe flow as “being in the zone.” When we’re “in the zone,” everything in our lives falls into place—words leap from our fingers onto the screen when we’re writing a report at work; hours of prayer time and meditation feel like mere minutes; we can deal with the frustrations of everyday life with patience and wisdom. Flow is being one with God and with the universe.
Peter is experiencing the flow when he walks on the water. He isn’t thinking of the fathoms of water beneath his feet or the howling winds that whip around him or the crashing waves that crest behind him. All he knows is that Jesus is stretching out his hand and beckoning him forward. If Peter had kept his eyes on Jesus, he could have walked clear across the lake!
But Jesus doesn’t abandon Peter when he begins to sink. Instead, Jesus stretches out his hand and lifts Peter out of the water. Scripture tells us that Jesus immediately stretches out his hand. He doesn’t let Peter sink to teach him a lesson. He lifts him and brings him safely to the boat.
The same is true for us. When God calls us to move outside our comfort zone, our immediate response is to question God. Surely God can’t be asking us to do such a thing, to step outside the boundaries of our safe, secure world—that is, to walk on water. But if we give ourselves over to God, trusting that our Creator holds us securely, knowing that we will not be abandoned or deserted, we can step out in boldness and faith. We can walk toward the places God calls us and do things we’ve never done, knowing that God will be with us. We can do extraordinary things when we, like Peter, follow the voice that says, “Come.” And even when we founder, God’s loving hands will reach out for us and pull us out of the water.
This assurance of God’s powerful, protecting love allows us to do more than just walk on water; it allows us to dance on the water. No waves are big enough or winds strong enough to sink us. Let us fearlessly embrace all that God has for us and start to dance.