I love the sea. I grew up in a tiny island just eight miles long by five miles wide. To travel to the other islands or to the mainland involved boats of different sizes from small inter-island vessels to the much larger ferries that took four hours to reach the UK. As a child I remember seeing the occasional shipwreck, but I do not recall ever considering what it must be like to have to have to abandon ship in a storm.

In 1979 I encountered a frightening situation while serving as second officer of the m.v. Geestland. We were sailing through a severe Atlantic storm when a search and rescue aircraft alerted us to the needs of two French yachtsmen who had sent out an SOS. It took us about six hours to find the stricken yacht. All we had was a rough position given by the aircraft, which had returned to land before pointing us in the general direction. It was nearly midnight when we finally spotted the yacht. It was pitch black, the wind was horrendous and the waves and swell were high and chaotic. Lookouts were instructed to maintain a good eye on the yacht, which continually disappeared and then reappeared. It took some time, but just before the yacht sank we finally managed to haul two exhausted Frenchmen onto the relative safety of our deck.

When Jesus walked on water towards a small boat full of frightened disciples it was as dark as that night in the Atlantic in 1979. Scripture tells us that the wind was strong and the waves heavy. Several of the disciples were professional seafarers and they knew that as long as the boat was still afloat it was the safest place to be, even in a storm. So why did Peter climb out? If this was an act of faith why did Peter not keep his eyes on Jesus? Why did he start to sink?

We are not told how far Jesus was from the boat when Peter climbed over the gunwales. It may have been quite a distance. We don’t know how far Peter got before he became frightened and started to sink. Given the darkness, the strength of the wind and the height of the waves, it is possible that Peter lost sight of Jesus more than once. In these circumstances it is not surprising that Peter became afraid.

It is easy for life to become dark. The problems we face every day threaten us, and just as the wind and the waves closed in around Peter, so we become swamped. It isn’t necessarily that we have taken our eyes off Jesus; it’s just that we cannot see Him anymore. Things have got in the way and like Peter we need to cry out for help.

Peter could be considered a fool for getting out of the boat, but by abandoning ship Peter made a statement that went beyond his then meager faith. Peter placed himself in a position of absolute trust in the power of Jesus to sustain his life. Humanly speaking it is not possible to stand on the water on a dark and stormy night, anymore than it is possible to walk across a calm lake in the middle of the day. That night must have been a turning point for Peter. Did anything else matter from that time on, other than the need to be fully surrendered, and utterly abandoned to the power of Jesus?

~               ~               ~               ~

David is the husband to Marilyn for 33 years, proud father of five children, two daughters-in-law, and one grandchild. He blogs regularly over at Ebs and Flows, the blog of his eldest son, Nick. He is also a contributor over at Proverbial Thought. His prayer is that all his children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren would know more of God than he do, and sooner.


Posted on October 5, 2012, in Christian Life, Guest Post and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Love your writing! It’s very graphic and “alive,” and supports your conclusion very well. Just took a quick look at Ebs and Flows, and read Nick’s guest post the other day too. You both write very well. I will have to come back and check you more often. (By the way, I found it interesting that my wife and I are almost a match for you and yours – we’ve now been married 34 years.)

  2. Thank you Pete. I really appreciate your encouraging comments. Congratulations to you and your wife for being a year ahead of us! My wife was on the ship with me during the incident referred to in the blog (a sort of extra honeymoon). She struggled constantly with sea sickness during the voyage but on the night of the storm when asked to assist the captain on the bridge (she operated the engine room telegraph) she forgot all about the motion of the ship and played a part in the rescue. David

  1. Pingback: Walking or Riding? | The Recovering Legalist

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