Faith Must Push Our Boundaries (Faith Series, Part 2)

If you are just catching up, we are in the middle of a 4-part series on the topic of “Faith.” I have an introduction within last week’s blog which can help get you up to speed here (Faith Begins With A Promise). I have been considering this matter of faith; what it is and how it grows and have spent much time going back into Hebrews 11, specifically verse 1 which states: "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen." Hebrews 11:1. The entire chapter is really the foundation for what is being discussed over these few weeks.
All that being said, today I plan to divert slightly and visit a well-known passage from Matthew which to me is an example of faith-in-action, literally speaking. If the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 were to include New Testament names, I have no doubt Peter would be included within the list. Although a somewhat complicated figure, Peter is ultimately an amazing case study of someone who goes from little or no faith to a man of exceedingly great faith; a man marked by Christ for use in building His Kingdom.
As a disciple of Christ, Peter spent 3 years learning, observing, and responding to the truth he was witnessing daily. Sometimes it seems he understood things completely and followed Jesus with faithful obedience and fervor (“Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah” Mark 8:29). Other times, it appears Peter just didn’t get it and his lack of faith was glaringly obvious (Then he started to curse and to swear with an oath, “I don’t know this man [Jesus] you’re talking about!” Mark 14:71). In the end, I believe Peter’s faith was unshakeable to the point of even death (church history says he was crucified upside down). One significant step in his journey to follow Christ, was the account of him stepping out of the boat in Matthew 14:22-33. It is an example for us of how faith must push our boundaries:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
1. Faith pushes against the boundary of fear
We can all picture within our minds the scene as it unfolded for the disciples, even though none of us were there. It was a terrifying moment. Not only was the storm raging all around but Jesus appeared in such a way that He looked like a ghost. Having never seen someone walking on water, the image must have been surreal. In order to confirm the identity of Jesus, Peter asks a bold question: “Tell me to come to you on the water.” I believe in this moment Peter had a conflict of both fear and faith rising up inside, with faith ultimately winning out. If he had the faith to ask, Jesus had the ability to respond and empower Peter with a simple word: “Come”. What follows is the only known account of someone performing this otherwise miraculous task: “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” His faith went into action and became literal steps as Peter took to the waves to meet his Lord. One main boundary faith always comes up against is fear and we have to push through fear in order to follow Jesus.
2. Any faith step will be challenged
In another translation, verse 30 states “But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid.” The boldness Peter exhibits is soon extinguished by the anxiety gripping him as he sees the force of the elements around him. I believe he had to have taken his eyes off of Jesus and allowed his mind to focus on the storm, rather than the Calmer of it. The key for us as it was for Peter, is to not allow outside challenges to diminish our faith or bring into doubt that God is able to do what He is calling us to. Remember last week when we said faith begins with a promise? In every step we take towards Jesus, we are simply walking towards His fulfillment of a promise. There will be countless attempts to veer us off of that path but we have to take each one and claim victory in Christ over it. Peter succumbs to fear and focuses on his circumstance rather than the One Who rules over everything. Hold every fear, every challenge up against the light of Jesus and it will immediately diminish in size and stature.
3. Doubts must give way to worship
“You of little faith why did you doubt?” Jesus had intended for Peter to come all the way out to Him as Peter left the boat. Peter’s faith buckled under to fear and doubt. But in the midst of the conclusion, we cannot mistake what happens. Jesus rescues Peter, they get into the boat, the storm ceases, and the disciples worship. If we are to follow Jesus and navigate the ups and downs of the journey, we have to become worshippers. We have to be in awe of the One who calms wind and waves. We have to be brought to a place once again where we simply worship in awe and wonder and we have to keep returning to that place. Otherwise we will continue to falter in attempt after attempt to walk on our own power and sheer force of will. Faith doesn’t grow under our own volition and is not something we just get better at. No, it grows through the moments when we are put to the test and cling to our Savior in worship and complete abandonment to all else.
Within Matthew’s account of Peter walking on water and within the accounts of Hebrews 11, there is a continual pushing of boundaries in order for faith to grow. Nothing each individual faced necessarily made sense or was easy to rationalize within human understanding. But therein lies the essence of faith: it is often beyond comprehension but it is the means by which we grow and become more and more mature in Christ.

If I can add my own personal account to this, faith has pushed the boundaries for my family and I in a literal way. We have just passed the 6-month mark since moving cross-country from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Spring Hill, Tennessee (for the backstory, read A New Season). My wife and I can attest to the fact that often things haven’t made sense nor have we necessarily seen a fulfillment of all that God is doing by moving us so far. We have left family, friends, and familiarity all in the pursuit of what we believe God is calling us to. We cannot doubt the fact that He burdened our hearts to move and that He is with us as we walk on the waves towards Him. My challenge and yours as well, is to not compare the storm to His miraculous power. He’s always up to something and He’s always moving us to greater and greater levels of trust in Him. Let faith push your boundaries today.

I’d love to hear from you!

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