I was weary and discouraged. A couple of very difficult appointments with clients at the pregnancy center where I work had left me questioning my abilities and doubting my adequacy. I felt like a failure. I wanted to quit.
But I had a Bible study to prepare for that evening. Flipping through the pages of my workbook, I spotted the photograph. Thoughtful Geraldine had excitedly given it to me before the start of our study the previous week. It was a picture of a sunset over the Sea of Galilee in Israel, with a short poem printed below. She knew I had traveled to the Holy Land and thought of me when she saw it. I didn’t have time to look closely at it just then, so I tucked it between the pages of my workbook and promptly forgot about it.
I picked up the photograph and slipped on my reading glasses to examine it more carefully. The sun, setting behind the Galilean hills, was in the shape of a Star of David.
This was the text of the simple poem that followed:
Star of David on Galilee Jesus walked on this very sea He called to Peter, step out and believe Our eyes on Him and we receive. He calls us now through Holy Spirit For those with hearts and ears to hear it. God Almighty, Creator of all No prayer too big, no prayer too small. So step out of your boat, you're not alone Your miracle awaits, sent from the throne.*
Geraldine didn’t know that the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus was special to me. But God knew. He had used this very story to lead me to accept the very position I had taken at work. Geraldine had no idea that a week later I would need confirmation that the Lord was still with me in the midst of a storm. But God knew.
It was as if He had sent this photograph into the future for me to find at the exact moment I needed it.
He knew I would recognize His voice speaking through this little poem, reminding me that HE was the One who called me out upon the water, that great unknown where feet may fail. (He had also used these very lyrics, from the song “Oceans,” to confirm His call when I took the job.) He knew I would see Him in this beautiful photograph of the very waters upon which Peter walked, and the shores upon which I had stood.
The truth is, I had actually begun to enjoy being out on the water with Jesus, preferring my exhilarating adventures with Him to the safe confines of the boat. Until like Peter, I took my eyes off of Him and placed them on myself–my inabilities, my inadequacies–and on the cresting waves around me. Next thing you know I’m panicking, thrashing, and coughing up sea water.
He came for me that morning in a poem and a photograph, and pulled me close, dripping and sputtering. He gently informed me that it was never about me. He pointed out that the storm didn’t actually stop until He and Peter returned to the boat.** And He patiently instructed me that He alone will determine when our walk on the water is over and it’s time to step back into the boat.
Who is this, that even the winds and waves obey Him? Who exists outside of time, sees our future needs and makes preparation for them? Who defies the laws of nature, walks on water and invites us to do the same? Who comes to our merciful rescue when we forget that apart from Him we can do nothing?
For Reflection: Where are you in your journey with Jesus? In the boat? Out on the water? Going under? Wherever you find yourself today, He is there too. He knows exactly what you need. Just “step out and believe.”
Watch this video of “Oceans,” filmed on the Sea of Galilee, and be encouraged!
*Photo and poem by Anthony R. Torres, Hand of God Photography.
**See Matthew 14:22-33 for the account of Peter walking on the water.