"And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea." ~ Matthew 14:22-25
"Jesus went unto them." This account in the gospel of Matthew is so beautiful and so humbling. Jesus walked across the water to the disciples, upon the choppy sea with the winds raging, and told them, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
To which Peter replied, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water."
And Jesus answered, "Come."
He beckoned Peter to come and walk on the water. To see that it was indeed Jesus, Peter's Lord and Friend. To trust that Jesus wouldn't ask Peter to come if He wasn't able to empower Peter to do such a thing.
"And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus." He knew Jesus wouldn't let him fall. He was initially bold and confident. Then "he saw the wind boisterous," and "he was afraid." And he started to sink.
He declared, "Lord, save me."
What did Jesus do? "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Jesus was right there, able to "immediately" save Peter and keep him from sinking deep within the waves and drowning.
I have been on the Sea of Galilee. I have been in a boat on that sea (much like a large lake), on a gray day with light rain and slight wind. I have heard about how the storms can sweep down the hillsides around the lake and rage upon the waters. I have been around "the midst of the sea," where land is far enough away to make you feel distant, like you're on a grand adventure.
Or, when the sea is less peaceful (such as in Peter's case), like you're far away from safety.
And yet, Jesus was right there. Able to help Peter walk on water. Able to save him the very moment he began to sink.
No place is far away from Jesus. The Lord is always near, and I was reminded of that truth while traveling around Israel. In the vast desert, God was there. In the crowded streets of Jerusalem, no matter how scared I felt, God didn't leave me. On the Sea of Galilee, He was with me.
Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith doesn't make "things not seen" exist. But it does make our hopes real, and it does give us proof of what has always been there, and what will always be there. It is trusting that when God asks us to "Come," He will give us the power to do so. It is believing that He will always be there, no matter where we are or what He asks us to do, to be our goal and the strength we need to reach that goal. It is knowing that He isn't bound by anything, but that He is just as real in Israel as He is in California.
Unchanging. Unwavering. And so close He will save us "immediately," if we ask for Him to save us.
"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." ~ Psalm 139: 9-10
(Pictures of the Sea of Galilee are from the Free Israel Photos website.)