|“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” Matt 14:28|
Growing up in Sunday School, I became very familiar with stories about David fighting Goliath, Jonah and the Great Fish, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Jesus feeding the multitude with two loaves and a fish. I loved imagining what it would be like if I’d been one of those people; if I’d seen what they’d seen, or done what they’d done.
I particularly liked to hear about Jesus walking out on the stormy sea towards a boat tossed about in the angry squall. What would it be like to walk on water, I wondered. Would I have stepped out like Peter? I was convinced that if I had, I would never have sunk though.
I happened across this passage again a couple weeks ago, and as I read it I could picture Peter standing with his hands on the rail, prepared to step over the side regardless of Jesus’ reply. He was ready to do the impossible.
It’s funny, when the story is told more emphasis is placed on Peter becoming distracted by the waves, sinking, and calling out for help. We focus on the fact that Jesus reached out immediately and pulled him up, indicating that God is always there to rescue his children, but we fail to realize that it doesn’t say Jesus ran to him and saved him. Peter was already near enough to be grabbed, which indicates he had walked quite a ways from the boat by that point.
History remembers the the names of those who step out of the boat. We know there were other disciples on board that night, but we don’t know how many, or specifically, which ones. Peter is the only one mentioned by name.
The same is true of war memorials. We remember those who risked all, not those who ran from the battlefield or stayed home. Marie Currie is remembered for exploring an anomaly on a piece of film placed on a rock, and for her subsequent work with radiation. The list goes on.
Dreams are just that…dreams…vapors in the night. That is, until we take the steps to turn them into reality. It requires courage, determination — and a bit of insanity. Notice that even after Peter got out of the boat and stood solidly on the sea, not a single person present attempted join him.
I have a song from Kutless I like to listen to when I’m struggling with decisions to stay still or move forward. It has a line that says, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word. It’s just a reason for someone not to try.”
When Jesus pulled Peter up and asked him “Why did you doubt?” it’s important to remember, he wasn’t chastising him for believing that if he got out of the boat he could walk forward through the massive waves, he was telling him not to become distracted by what was going on around him and to focus instead on his final destination.
I want to encourage you to do the same with your writing. Don’t be one of the nameless men on the boat. If you have been blessed with being given story to tell, step forward boldly. Don’t let anyone else distract you with tales of the impossibility of being published. Don’t become discouraged when your manuscript comes back with more red than black. Learn. Grow. And always remember: Even though writing is largely a solitary endeavor, you’re never alone. There will always be someone nearby to reach out a hand and pull you back up if you do begin to sink.