Have you ever felt a nudge to share your faith, yet didn’t? I surely have. I call those times my “chicken-out moments.” Those are the times I knew I should share my faith, but I didn’t. Oh, I sensed the Holy Spirit pressing me, “Now. Say something now!” Yet I just couldn’t open my mouth and bring up spiritual things. I was too worried about what others might think.
If this has not already happened to you yet, it probably will. And when it does, take comfort. You’re normal. It’s just a signal to keep pressing into the Lord and growing in your faith, just like Peter did when he tried walking on water (see Matthew 14:26-33).
Do you remember the story? Jesus’ disciples were in a boat on the sea. Their boat was getting pummeled with waves. And in the wee hours of the morning Jesus came walking on the sea to them. Interestingly, Jesus had been training his disciples for a while by then. He had even given them power to do the kinds of miracles he was doing – like walking on water. Yet they were terrified. This comforts me. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for a while now. I know I have Holy Spirit power within me. I want to follow Jesus’ command every time – to get out of the boat and into the world to be His witness, and yet sometimes I’m terrified.
In the middle of this dramatic scene, Peter gets bold and says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:38 ESV). Don’t miss this. Peter was a fisherman, so he knew well the natural dangers of the Galilean Sea. Yet for a moment, Peter forgot about the danger. He trusted Jesus’ supernatural power more. So, when Jesus said “Come,” Peter got out of that boat and walked on water toward Jesus (see Matthew 14:29). This is just like the moment when we push past chicken-out moments to share our faith. We resolve: “Even though it might be dangerous to identify ourselves with Jesus in this world, we will be His witnesses – because we trust Him more than we trust the world.”
Except when we don’t. Remember what happened to Peter? Yup, he saw the wind, got afraid and started to sink (see Matthew 14:30). Peter had just enough trust in Jesus to get out of the boat and start walking on water toward him. Yet he did not have enough trust to keep walking. Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there. When he started sinking, he cried out, “Lord save me.” (Matthew 14:30 ESV.) Then Jesus immediately grabbed ahold of him.
When I first started to share my faith across cultures, I had just enough faith to “get out of the boat.” You might too. You might even take several first steps. And then if you’re like most people, you sink. That’s to be expected. Instead of beating yourself up and crawling back into the safety of the boat and never sharing again, celebrate your first steps. You got out of the boat and into the world to be His witness. That’s awesome. Most people don’t get that far.
Just don’t stop there.
Take a cue from Peter. When you face a chicken out moment and start to sink, cry out to Jesus like Peter. Ask for more faith. He will surely grab ahold of you and give it.