Crossing the Line

Matthew 14:23-33 Living Bible (TLB)

23-24 Then afterwards he [Jesus] went up into the hills to pray. Night fell, and out on the lake the disciples were in trouble. For the wind had risen and they were fighting heavy seas.

25 About four o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water! 26 They screamed in terror, for they thought he was a ghost. 27 But Jesus immediately spoke to them, reassuring them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said.

28 Then Peter called to him: “Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water.”

29 “All right,” the Lord said, “come along!” So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and rescued him. “O man of little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

33 The others sat there, awestruck. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Crossing the Line

Have you ever visited a place where you could straddle a line and be in two states or countries at the same time? My dad used to tease us when we were driving down to Florida by stretching out his arm and saying he was going to get there before us, and we would try to reach farther and be the first one there. I was reminded of this silly challenge when I read this passage from Matthew.

Peter initiated a challenge by asking Jesus for proof that Jesus truly was who He said he was. After Jesus called Peter onto the water, I imagine him, unsure and a bit frightened, straddling the side of the boat, one foot in the boat, and one foot hovering above the water. Peter was at a type of crossroad, physically safe in the boat yet wanting to do as Jesus commanded.

Marshalling his faith and courage, Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the water, walking on the water until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the sea waves crashing about him. In other words, Peter doubted. When he lost faith, he crossed the line back to fear.

And the line between faith and fear is doubt.

I know because I’ve been hopscotching that line my entire life.

When I feel God calling me to do something outside my comfort zone, my first inclination is to question. “Lord, are you really asking me to do this?” I ask Him to assuage my doubt by confirming to me that I’m not just imagining His gentle nudge. Just as He called Peter out onto the water, He calls me to do His will. I’m no different from Peter, I obey until I look around.

My doubt is most prevalent when the request seems peculiar. I’m afraid I misheard Him; I’m afraid that the person He wants me to help will think I’m a weird. I question if the idea is just something my crazy imagination made up, and a few times, I have tried to bargain with God to get out of doing it. I straddle the line wavering between faith and fear.

Since my cancer diagnosis, I have strived to do anything God asks of me, even if it seems odd. It finally occurred to me that everything that He asks me to do is good. He’s never asked me to hurt someone, to take something from them, to say painful things, or to shame anyone. Why should I hesitate to do good? The more I am obedient, the more His blessings are manifested to His children.

So I’m stretching out my arm over the line of doubt knowing God will take my hand in faith. My other hand is free to reach out to his children and help them in any way He asks.

~Julie Land

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