The disciples were filled with fear when they first saw Jesus walking toward their wave-tossed boat late at night. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid,” was His response. Peter was still uncertain, but he tried to take heart. He gathered his courage and got out of the boat when he heard Jesus say “Come.” Step by step he walked upon the water, making his way toward Jesus. Suddenly the frightening circumstances got the best of him. Again he was afraid. He began to sink.
Fear caused Peter to sink. Fear also causes us to sink. When we sink in fear, we become unfruitful. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus told the story of two good and faithful servants and then a third servant who sank in fear. In fact, he sank his master’s gold in the ground. His excuse to his angry master: “So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.” His master called him wicked.
Beware of fear. In a letter I received this week, a South Asian worker serving in Central Asia wrote, “Over the last couple of years, I have learned that the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Islamic governments are not our enemies, but we ourselves are our own enemy. Our fear and anxiety paralyze us and keep us from doing God’s will.” Fear paralyzes.
Fear causes us to sink, but faith always lifts us up. As Peter began to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him. Together, Jesus and Peter walked hand in hand to the boat.
It seems I’ve always focused upon the fact that Peter began to sink—he gave into fear and failed. But that is not the end of the story. In the end, he turned from fear and cried out to Jesus. Peter won and fear lost! Well done, good and faithful Peter!
“Come,” Jesus says to us, “Walk with Me into the impossible.” In spite of the challenge of making disciples among unreached peoples, cross-cultural workers have stepped out of their homes and away from their families and cultures to walk with Jesus.
When those times come, as they will, when surrounding circumstances bring fear, remember Jesus’ words, “Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid.” Do not let fear pull you down. Let faith in Jesus lift you up. Grab His outstretched hand and walk on with Him.
Personal questions to consider:
1. What “impossibilities” do you see in your life that are similar to Peter’s attempt to walk on water?
2. When was the last time you faced fear but then cried out to Jesus? What was the outcome?
Pray for the frontline workers to:
1. Identify “impossibilities” they see in their church planting ministry that are similar to Peter’s attempt to walk on water.
2. Recall the last time they faced a fearful situation and cried out to Jesus. Then to be encouraged as they remember His help.