When I was a little girl, I would stand on my Dad’s feet and we would dance around the living room. I didn’t have to worry about trying to follow his footsteps, because he was leading me with every step because my shoes were on his feet. Just stay relaxed, and hold onto his hand, and around we would take off. In my mind’s eye, we were at a fancy princess ball and I was the princess and he was my prince leading me in a well-choreographed dance as we would rhythmically step around the room. ‘If you do what the Lord wants, he will make certain each step you take is sure.’ Psalms 37:23
The other day, I was thinking about one of Jesus’ friends, Peter. Remember the story? It was after the 5,000 miraculously were fed with five small loafs of bread and two fish, as told in Matthew 14. Jesus told the disciples to go to the other side of the lake and Jesus went up to the hills to pray. Night was falling, and out in the lake, the disciples were in trouble because of a storm that had blown up. Jesus walked to them on the water, and the disciples were very afraid!
We are prone to have that voice of fear in our heads, aren’t we? Jesus spoke to them right away ‘don’t be afraid’. ‘Don’t be afraid’… we hear that so often in scripture, don’t we? The angel said ‘fear not’ to Mary when she was told she was going to have the baby. We read it in Isaiah 41, ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’
Once, I was told by a previous pastor that scripture says ‘fear not’ 365 times, once for every day of the year. I haven’t counted them myself, but I know that God has to tell me many times, if not daily, not to fear something. Not to fear COVID, not to fear financially, not to fear about family members, or not to fear about the ‘what if’s’ that are in my head actually happen. Politics, riots, sickness, financial issues, job loss, health care, wars and rumors of wars.. lions and tigers and bears, oh my!… there is always something to fear. We mustn’t listen to the fear voice in our heads. Fearful people will pass on their fears to us if we’re not careful. We must consciously listen to that still small voice in our heads that say ‘come, follow me, I will hold your hand, I will direct your steps’.
Back in the boat, Peter spoke up impulsively in faith and said ‘Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water’. Jesus said to Peter, ‘All right, come along!” When Peter heard God’s command and locked eyes with Jesus and took that first step out of the boat, God’s power took over, and Peter’s foot didn’t sink. He was walking on faith, and the water! It was when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, and saw the wind and high waves, he became terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord,’ yelled Peter. Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and rescued him. ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt me?’, Jesus said. They climbed back into the boat, and the others were awestruck at what they saw. We, too, may focus on the waves during a storms in our lives, no matter what they may be; but we have the power within us to redirect our focus on our faith in the middle of even the most suffocating circumstances to discover God’s power.
What I noticed about this story is that when Peter first heard the command to step out of the boat and actually took that first step, God’s power showed up. It was when Peter’s doubt took over that he began to sink. Take that first step…I’ll be there to hold you. Just stand on my shoes, Candy, and hold my hand and we’ll dance together. Hold on, you won’t fall. Stay focused on me, Peter, you can do it.
What is God asking you to do today that takes you a little out of your comfort zone or brings fear to your soul? A fractured relationship? Financial difficulties? Start a food-drive? Hold a community Thanksgiving dinner? Gather toys or clothes for those less fortunate? Make masks? Cook something for someone? Send a card? Pick up the phone? Show kindness and love in a world that is craving love, grace, and a little kindness?
If you take that first step out of the boat, keep your eyes upon the one who calls you, step on His shoes, hold his hand, and ‘He that began a good work in you will carry it on to completion’. Phil 1:6