“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’” Matt 14:27-29
Sometimes you just want to be sure.
It was dark and late. Jesus had sent the disciples ahead on the boat after they had fed the 5000 men and their families. He would join them later. He wanted to first spend some time in prayer with His Father.
They were tired of fighting against the wind. The waves were relentless. The disciples were exhausted and cold. Crossing the sea was especially difficult this night. And why wasn’t Jesus with them? If He were, surely they wouldn’t be having these problems.
That’s when Jesus showed up. But it was the strangest thing. He was walking on water. Nobody can walk on water. It couldn’t have been Him. The disciples must have been hallucinating. Or maybe it was a ghost. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…
Sometimes things get bad and then they get worse. Ever been there? You even cry out to God but He seems eerily silent. You’re tempted to have a pity party. You didn’t do anything that bad to deserve this. But this is what you get.
And then you start looking for God to step in and change things. Some things begin to change but it’s not like you had imagined it should be. Could it really be God answering your prayer?
One of the hardest lessons I continually have to learn is that God doesn’t think like I think. His ways are almost always totally different from mine. When God does show up, He’s almost unrecognizable. That’s when I do the “Peter” thing. I question God and ask, “Is that really you?”
God is quick to respond and it becomes obvious that I’m to submit to Him and His ways. Sometimes, though, it’s scary and I’m not sure I want to go down that road. So I look for assurances from Him. I ask Him to make it very clear what I’m to do. Sort of like Peter saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
I’m finding out that God wants me to know what He wants more than I want to know. He is pretty clear. As a “fisher of men,” I know what He is calling me to do. Sometimes I just don’t feel like “fishing.” Sometimes I want to do something else. When I try to weasel out of sharing the gospel with someone, for whatever reason, the Holy Spirit convicts my heart. It’s His way of saying, “I’m here, you asked…now get out of the boat.”
So, are you looking for assurances? Then just ask. But don’t be surprised when He tells you it really is Him. And also don’t be surprised when He tells you to hop out of the boat. Then it becomes an issue of obedience. “Fishers of men” need to be committed to obeying God. Some witnessing encounters are not intended to be pleasant or “the perfect setup.” Some of them require simple obedience to God.