Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14: 22-33)
We’ve all heard the story above. It is easy to criticize Peter for his lack of faith the way Jesus did following this scene. But when you take the opposite perspective, Peter was more than bold to walk on the water in the first place. Put yourselves in his shoes. The storms of life are raging around you. Rain is pelting you from all directions, and the waves—oh, the waves! The waves of life are crashing down on you like a tsunami. Amidst that storm, there He is. Jesus. Calling you out to the waters surrounding you. Would you have the boldness to take that first step like Peter?
A student of mine was on that boat in life earlier this year. For her sake, let’s call her Miracle. After all, her story is in my mind one of God’s miracles. She was one of those kids who was scary smart. When she gave her best efforts, her writing absolutely baffled me on how gifted she was in constructing sentences that flowed smoothly from one to the next. She was likewise on the dance team, seemed to have many friends, and lived a life that seemed to be carefree and enjoyable. Or so I thought. When third quarter came, Miracle entered the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest. Her story, expressed in no less than three handwritten pages, shocked me beyond belief. I asked her permission to share it with you. This is her story.
Amidst that life that seemed to be perfect from the outside, Miracle was torn on the inside. Her smiles in class were a mere façade, covering up deep wounds that were haunting her inside. Her popularity led her to hang out with a large group of friends. Friends that began talking behind her back. Friends that she has since cut loose from her relationships. I saw her whispering around in class with a few of them, having no clue what it was doing to her. It led her to a dark place, a black abyss that spiraled her lower than she had ever been before. All hope was lost. There was no escape. She knew life wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be and securely fastened a noose in her bedroom. This was her last resort.
With the storms of life crashing down on her from all sides, she was drowning. But God, standing still in the middle of that storm, reached out His hand. He worked through her earthly father, who found the noose before anything happened. She was hospitalized, recovered, and found her way to church. It was there that Miracle found a love that only God can give. A love that was so much more than any of those “friends” could even hope to give. A love that came in the form of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16). This was an unconditional love, a love that pulled her up from the darkness that surrounded her and gave her new life. Literally.
Totally unbeknownst to me, I saw that change in her at that time in her life. She smiled more. She talked about her youth group on Mondays when we shared about our weekends in class. She shifted her friendship to a different group of girls that built her up. Christian girls. And to top it all off, her newfound faith in God led her to spread a bit of that love to some of her old friends. It was seen in my class last Friday at lunch. Every Friday I invite my students to eat lunch with me, and this week we were listening to music on Youtube. Miracle, beaming from ear to ear, eagerly suggested we listen to Hillsong United’s “Oceans.” I pulled it up on the computer and clicked play. What ensued was a scene that will live in my heart forever.
There she was with all her friends. Friends who NEEDED Christ. Friends who were all going through their own unique struggles. Miracle gracefully moved about the room, displaying God’s gift she had been blessed with, occasionally putting her arms around her friends who gladly joined in. The entire room broke out in song. My eyes welled up. It was impossible to hold it in. The love of Christ was all too powerful at that moment, and I wept the same tears of joy that are beginning to well in my eyes right now as I write these words. God fought for her and won her over. That story that began so nasty had been woven into something beautiful that could only be attributed to God. His miracle resides in that that precious girl, and I have a feeling that in due time she will use that story to spread God’s love even more.
What about you? What storm of life is crashing down on you as the school year ends? We’re all at different places. Maybe that storm is over. Maybe it is on the horizon. You might be smack dab in the middle of it. Just know that in the eye of the hurricane, Jesus Christ is reaching out His hand. You may be sinking, but He won’t let you drown. It takes courage to take that first step like Peter did, but if you do, the reward of using His strength will carry you through.
(Are you bold enough to walk out into the ocean fully trusting Him? Listen to Hillsong United’s “Oceans” below to get a taste of the calmness God provides during life’s storms.)