According to the narrative, on Jesus’ instructions, the disciples had taken a boat and were to meet Him on the other side of the lake. Sometime during the night, a storm rose up and the disciples were afraid. It continues, “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a spirit;’ and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me'” (Matthew 14:25-30, KJV).
For years I thought Peter had failed and some may share that same thought. However, did he really fail? As a fisherman, he was probably used to storms on the lake but for sure he had never tried walking on water! Stepping out of that boat into the dark embrace of howling winds and raging waters, simply because he heard the voice of his friend and Lord say “Come,” was quite the step of faith. When faced with the reality of what was happening around him, who could blame him for taking his eyes off his destination, the place from where he heard the voice? In some respects, isn’t Peter really us? We hear and have the Word of God and even after stepping out in faith, we are still overwhelmed by our different circumstances. Like Peter, some of us have not only started to sink but we have sunk! Yes, we heard the voice of Jesus say “Come,” but. . . but. . . but. . . . We have our buts.
Interestingly, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for looking everywhere else except upon Him; He rebuked him for his lack of faith (v.31). No matter how the storm was raging, he should have kept his faith instead of being afraid. The presence of fear signals uncertainty; a weakness in faith. Despite our best intentions, our fear often gets the better of us. In one respect, Peter failed. However, in another aspect, he had learned what not to do. Faith in God allows us to look at our challenges without being afraid. When overwhelmed we turn to the rock that is higher than ourselves (Psalm 61:2).
The application for us? Whenever you have a “Peter moment,” whether in your relationship with the Lord or with others, use failure as a stepping stone for success. How so? At least, now you know what not to do. Learning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do, and sometimes we do so through failing. Ralph Marston writes, “Failure is not the opposite of success. Failure is an important component of success.” Just ask Peter.