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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Anne

In the Face of Fear



Peter’s brief walk on water is one of the most universally envied miracles. It’s also one of the famous stories where we see the very humanness of the disciples on display with the oft repeated “O you of little faith” making an appearance. I often like to question how Peter, who was walking on water, suddenly lost his faith that Jesus would sustain him and make the impossible possible. This story provides a beautiful framework and source of encouragement for those of us who are now disciples of Christ, who often deserve to be called “O you of little faith,” just like Peter.

The story appears in Matthew 14 after Jesus fed the five thousand. The disciples are out on a boat while Jesus spends time alone with God. He comes to them, walking on water, and when Peter learns it’s Jesus, he speaks the words that sets the miracle in motion: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (Matthew 14:28b ESV) Jesus does tell Peter to come to Him so Peter steps out of the boat…and onto, not into, the water.

What a feeling that must have been! Peter recognized Jesus as Lord, and thus capable of making it so Peter too could walk on water. He heard Jesus’s call and stepped out in bold faith. The first few steps must have been exhilarating – denying natural laws, drawing close to his friend and Lord, trusting in Jesus to do the impossible. Then, Peter took his eyes off Jesus. He noticed the wind and waves around him. Remembered that he, Peter, could not walk on water. And began to sink as his bold faith from moments before evaporated.

I can’t imagine the terror that filled Peter as he realized what was happening. If I were in his position, it would have been the only thing I could focus on. But in the midst of sinking, Peter still recognized Jesus as the one who could save him. Peter’s doubt didn’t affect Jesus’s ability to walk on water, to do the miraculous. His doubt only affected his ability to participate in and do the miraculous himself. And so Peter called out to Jesus - not his fellow disciples in the boat - to save him. And Jesus did. Jesus rescued Peter first, only rebuking him later for his decision to choose fear over faith. And just as Jesus rescued Peter when his faith failed after answering Jesus’s call, so He rescues us when we falter in fear as we answer God’s call.

Like Peter, I was called by God. Not to walk on water, though that would be really cool, but to write. I didn’t want to, but God persisted in nudging me into the purpose and the place for which He created and designed me. And when I finally answered, it was exhilarating. The words flowed and when a learning opportunity came up, I took it and was poured into, encouraged, and filled with excitement about becoming a writer. I was walking on my own “water,” focusing on Jesus and what He was calling me into. Until I noticed the waves.

Committing to writing meant I needed to begin the arduous task of building an online presence, working to gain followers so I already have an invested audience which agents and publishers can see. It also meant committing to more conferences and groups, investing in myself as a writer to show a long-term commitment to writing that makes me a worthwhile author to invest in. Building an online presence takes dedication and time, and a willingness to enter the public eye. Attending conferences and joining writing groups takes money and time. As an introverted dairy farmer moonlighting as a substitute teacher, I found myself faltering in the face of these demands, sinking beneath the waves of fear, doubt, and pressures of to whom or what I should give my time.

I quit working on my story and only continued posting on social media because it was so public. I allowed the fear of failure to consume me and began holding onto lies like “your story would be better if it’s written by someone else” and “you’re just being selfish and using writing as an excuse to not work on the farm.” I wallowed in the guilt and shame that clinging to these lies produced, even going so far as to skip my daily Bible reading and prayer time. After about five days of this, I was miserable and finally desperate enough to turn to God in prayer, pouring out my heart and frustration. There was no answer, no real peace other than that of finally telling someone my roiling emotions. And then I did my Bible reading.

It was the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water, and as I read it I heard God speaking to me. I was the one of little faith. I had stepped out of the boat, intent on Jesus and answering His call. But after a few steps I too was distracted by the crashing waves and howling wind, the fears, doubts, and lies I chose to focus on instead of the voice of my Lord and Savior calling me to go on. And as I read, Jesus’ voice overcame the fears and doubts, He lifted me back onto the surface of the water, placing me safely in the boat with Him – and my fellow travelers who will help encourage me and worship at Jesus’s feet with me.

What are you focused on today? Have you responded to God’s call on your life, only to falter? It’s never too late to turn to Jesus and cry out for help. He is willing and able to save you, to lift you out of the watery grave of doubt and fear. Turn to Him in faith today, leaning and focusing on Him to stay on top of the waves.

God Bless and Keep magic in the mundane.

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