A couple of nights ago, I was kneeling down next to my bed to pray before sleep. I don’t pray like this often, but that night I was drawn to kneel and pray. As I closed my eyes and tried to pray, I suddenly became aware of emotional burdens I had been under, and I could not pray but only cry out: ‘O Lord, save me, I drown!’
At first, it was a surprise to myself that I spoke those words to God in prayer. Not that I was uncomfortable to pray like that, but because those words described my soul condition so accurately. As soon as the words left my mouth, as soon as I heard my own prayer, the picture popped into my mind, the picture of Peter sinking in water and crying out to Jesus who was walking on water. And quickly identifying with sinking Peter, under the waves of water in his case, and under the waves of emotional stress and worries in my case, I repeated the prayer several times and asked the Lord to rescue me from all these turmoil and distractions going on within my soul.
My prayer did not last long, but it was an honest and sincere prayer in quite a while.
I looked up the passage today which shows Jesus walking on water and Peter who jumped out of the boat to walk on water in zeal, but soon found himself starting to sink and asked for help desperately. From Matthew 14:22-33 (only quoting from the verse 28 below):
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:28-33, ESV)
As I looked at this scene more clearly (than the other night when I had to rely on my memory), I noticed:
1) Jesus granted what Peter asked (twice), even though Peter sounded almost as if he was commanding Jesus here, or at least very demanding. And when Peter cried out for help, Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of sinking Peter.
It showed me how merciful Jesus is. The Lord of the universe humbling Himself and listening to a demanding, hot-headed disciple. And while He told Peter to have faith, His hand reached out immediately and took hold of Peter. How willing is our Lord to help us in our weak moments!
2) Peter did walk on water at first, but it was when he saw the wind that he became afraid and started sinking. And Jesus told him ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’
Peter, being distracted and overwhelmed by the wind (and hence waves), lost his confidence in Jesus’ power. He was no longer able to trust in Jesus’ word “Come” even though it was what Peter himself requested. No sooner he lost the sight of Jesus by distraction than he lost his trust in Jesus, and no sooner he lost his trust in Jesus than he became afraid and his fear became real (drowning). Could all these overwhelming worries and desires that pierce me through be a sign that I am losing the sight of Jesus and being distracted? The striking fact is that, contrary to what many secular psychologists may suggest, my worries can come true and my desires can be denied just like Peter’s fear of drowning was very much a possibility and did happen (although he was saved by Jesus). But knowing Jesus who is able and willing to sustain me to bring me safely home, why am I still so full of worries and doubts?
3) After this incident, the people in the boat worshipped Jesus and recognised and proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God.
I can’t remember when was the last time I struggled with fear and doubt and overwhelming worries as much as I do these days. Maybe I simply don’t want to remember that time. But whenever that was, I was sustained by God who is gracious beyond my imagination and I can say that I am still alive and deeply grateful that I am still in Christ. But I just wonder how much of Jesus did I learn through that experience, and what did I do when it was over? I can say I learned this and that through such experience, but did it make me to worship Jesus and proclaim Him? Well, enough of looking back, what about this time around, when He hears my cry and rescues me from the crashing waves, will I bow before Him and worship Him confessing that He truly is the Son of God?
O God, help me not to lose my focus on Jesus, hence becoming fearful of the world and drowned by it. But my merciful Lord, rescue me from my own crashing waves of worries and worldly desires so I may once again recognise your face and worship you.
O Lord, save me, I drown!