“I can do it” is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of my youngest daughter, Maisie. At 2 years old she is smack in the middle of the “independent” phase. Whether it is putting her shoes on, pulling up her pants, climbing into the car, or opening /closing just about anything, “I can do it” is her motto. It always takes longer and often requires adult help (or at least supervision) but she is determined that she can do it on her own.
Until she is forced to utter those dreaded words, “I help” (Meaning I need help of course). Yes, that’s right sometimes Maisie just has to admit that she cannot do it on her own, that she needs help . . . and at times she needs saving from her failed attempt to do it on her own (i.e.: falling over with one leg stuck in her pants and the other only half way in). She has to turn to Mama (or another adult at times) and have faith that she will take over and get things done.
As adults we face the same challenge in our walk with Jesus. Sometimes we forget that our faith should be in Jesus, not ourselves and our own abilities, but in him alone. Sometimes we have to admit that our little faith isn’t enough to get us where we are going, but that our Savior is. It seems like the disciples had to learn this lesson a number of different ways. One story comes to mind from the Gospel of Matthew . . .
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Before we have little faith we have to have some faith. Peter got out of the boat and walked on water as a response to Jesus calling him. He had the faith to respond to Jesus when he commanded Peter to, “Come”. Now along his journey, short as it may have been, his faith wavered, it was little. He took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the pending threat, the wind and I imagine the huge waves it was causing. When he took his eyes off the One who imparts faith and placed it on the thing that threatens that very faith, then his faith became little. But when he took his first step out of that boat, and onto the water, his FAITH was big and it was real.
In order to have “little faith” you have to have some faith.
And maybe that is where we start when we feel lost, when we appear faithless. Maybe we need to go back to the first time we heard Jesus say, “Come”. We need to return to the first step we took out of the boat. We must go back to the time we walked on water. We then insist on looking past the little to the FAITH, so we hold onto the truth of the One who gave us the faith to begin with, remembering that it is about Him and not about us alone.
Jesus took Peter’s little faith and made it big. Because unless your Bible says differently, Peter made it back into that boat. He walked on the water, through the wind and the waves, and he climbed back into the boat through the rescue of his Savior. But he didn’t do it on his own. It was not about mustering up enough strength to be able to get to the boat, nor was it about breaking down and swimming (something he could have done on his own). No, it was not about him or what he could do. Instead, it was about Jesus and what he could do. He took hold of the hand extended to him by Jesus and climbed into the boat – where he worshipped the true Son of God.
One thing I noticed this time when reading this familiar passage is that Jesus took Peter back into the boat. He called him out into the water but then he took him back to the boat. Jesus used Peter’s little faith to show him who he was and then placed him safely back in the boat with his friends. Jesus didn’t force Peter to have faith he couldn’t yet grasp, he didn’t throw him into the waves and insist that he face a danger he wasn’t yet ready to confront. He took his hand and led him to the safety of the boat.
And it was in the safety of the boat, with Jesus, that Peter and the disciples worshipped the True Son of God. The wind ceased, the waves with them, and there in the calmness of that boat Jesus showed Peter, and those with him, exactly who he was: The Son of God.
Jesus met Peter where he was, a believer with little faith, and he saved him from drowning and put him back in the boat that he first called him out of, out onto the water.
In order to have a little faith, you have to have faith. You have to start somewhere, and you have to do it with Jesus – trusting that he will meet you where you are (drowning in the ocean or walking on the water) and he will take your little faith and show you exactly who he is, and how much you need him to reach out and save you.