For as long as I can remember, I have been terrified of water. Sometimes I blame my fear on nearly drowning as a child, other times, I claim it stems from my inability to tread water. Regardless, I can’t stand the idea of being in water over my head, and my fear only seems to increase as I grow older. Despite this fear, the story of Peter walking on water has always captivated me.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid. And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.
Every time I read this story, I can’t seem to wrap my head around verse 28.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Seriously? Not only is he in a small boat in the middle of the sea, but a storm rages around him. Why on earth would he ask the Lord to command him to come out of the water?
And every time I read this story, I am reminded of exactly what I would have done if I had been on that boat.
I would have backed up to the smallest corner of the lowest deck and begged the Lord to save me. But I would never have considered walking out on the water. And if he would have asked me to, I would have laughed in disbelief and said “There is no way I’m facing those waves. I can’t swim.”
And yet, recently, the Lord has continuously brought this story to my mind as I continue to walk on a path of healing. A path that is challenging and scary but one that teaches me to place my identity in the Lord rather than the anxiety disorder I have had for fifteen years. No longer do I refuse to ask for help. No longer do I believe the lie that mental health disorders form as a result of sin. Today I choose to fight back against the voices that tell me to wallow in guilt and shame. Today I choose to listen as the Lord continues to challenge those beliefs by asking me to do the unthinkable.
Step out of the boat.
Go to counseling.
Walk out on the water.
Be vulnerable. Share your story.
Don’t be afraid of the waves.
Choose to love yourself as I love you.
We may not have lived when Peter stepped out of that boat and walked out on the waves, but this story is still relevant in our lives today.
Step out of the boat.
It’s okay if you’re terrified. I am, too.
Walk out on the waves.
And as you do, do not condemn yourselves if you immediately slip beneath the waves. Your King is only one step away. And as He takes your hand and lifts you up, He does so with love rather than judgment.UMHB’s Baptist Student Ministry is dedicated to providing ministries and opportunities that allow students to grow in Christ, give in service, and go into the world to share the love of Jesus. We invite to visit our website for more information on how to get plugged in with our BSM!