Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. —Hebrews 11:1, NIV
This scripture passage is one big statement to swallow. It means that my faith in God’s hand in my life means that I am confident of what I hope for and am assured of this, even when I do not see it.
It means that I need to remain faithful, even when I don’t see the evidence I expect to see. How on earth can I be expected to do this?
I’m sure that Peter never in his life expected to be a water walker (Matthew 14:22-33). Yet, when he saw Jesus walking on the waves that were battering the small boat in which he and the other disciples were cowering, he jumped over the side to join his Master. Imagine his emotions when he felt the water under his feet, surrounded by the noise and violence of the storm, realizing that he was walking on the water. Was he filled with exultation, joy, awe?
I’ve always thought that everything was going fine until Peter allowed his rational mind to think about what was happening. In a heart-beat, he went from faith to fear. When fear entered his thoughts, he began to sink.
Here’s the best part of the story. Jesus chided Peter for having so little faith, but he didn’t let Peter sink and drown. He reached out his hand and held Peter up.
God does the same thing for us. He calls us to take steps far out of our comfort zones and walk in faith on the path that is laid before us. It’s up to us to take the first step. Like Peter, we may sometimes need to leap out the comfort of the familiar into the unpredictable maelstrom of stormy waves and wild winds of life.
This is the cornerstone of faith—the willingness to take that first step even though we can’t see the outcome. It’s having confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we don’t see. When we hear people talk about “stepping out in faith,” they are talking about taking action. Demonstrating faith is more a matter of movement than hoping.
The woman who touched Jesus’ garment had to make a move, even though Jesus didn’t see her (Luke 8:43-48).
The men who collected the loaves and fishes had to take the baskets around, even though there was no food (Matthew 14:13-21).
Each time, a first step that seemed impossible, ridiculous, even a waste of time. And each time, that first step in faith led to unbelievable “water walking”.
It’s scary. In fact, it’s sometimes downright terrifying. But that’s where the faith comes in. In that moment of taking a first step in faith, we know that even if we falter and allow our fear of the unknown to overcome our faith, our God won’t let us drown.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Well, that’s great for those people. They had a whole lot more faith than I do. My faith is a pretty small at the best of times.” Water walking isn’t about how much faith you have. We’re told that even if our faith is as small as a grain of mustard seed, we can move mountains!
In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Paul tells us that faith is a gift of God. We know that faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). That terrifying first step is possible because God gives us the faith to take it. God will give you the faith you need when you need it. When you believe that, water walking—as all things—is possible with God (Matthew 19:26).