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.:. on the water

Fran Woods

a meditation on Matthew 14:22-36

This is the story of Peter walking on the water at Jesus’ invitation. It’s a passage familiar to us all. I’ve often wondered what was really going on here. What was it that Jesus was doing for Peter? While at a retreat last March, we did a meditation on the passage. As I pondered and prayed I felt as though God gave me an insight I’d never really considered before. It has given me much pause for thought and prayer in my own walk with Jesus.

Peter was a fisherman. As such he was very aware of the elements. The elements ruled his daily decisions about fishing or not fishing. He had probably experienced the grief and sorrow of friends who drowned because of the unpredictability of the weather. You could say he was ruled by the elements. When Jesus invited him to walk on the water to him Peter immediately jumped at the chance and proceeded to walk on the water. Peter didn’t hesitate for a second. Maybe it was his fisherman nature that made him look around and notice the wind and waves, maybe he was just excited at walking on the water and forgot about Jesus for a moment. Whatever the reason, he saw the wind and waves and was immediately terrified and began to sink.

The fear of the elements overtook him causing him to lose all connection to Jesus and sink. Peter’s trust had been in his fisherman’s experience based on many years living on the sea. This got in the way of him being able to rise above the experiences of his life - he rose above it for a minute or two but got pulled back into what he’d always known. It seems to me that Jesus wanted to disconnect Peter from his experiential dependence on the natural elements and connect him to himself so that he would be free to do the impossible, even to walk on water. This detaching from what Peter had known in order to attach him to something totally other was so he could rise above the physical realm and do what Jesus did. With Jesus that which was physically impossible became possible.

This has made me wonder and ask the question, “What of my life experiences rules me and makes sink any time I step out of the boat at Jesus’ invitation?” It seems to me that Jesus wants to detach us from those things that have ruled our lives and our responses to life’s experiences so we are free to be attached to Jesus alone, and so we really experience the miraculous in our lives and in our work.

Copyright 2003 Fran Woods

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