(A Short Story)
Sea of Galilee
I ran across the shore of the Sea of Galilee, my feet pounding against the sandy ground. But my mind raced faster, a million thoughts rushing through it all at once. I could not get my thoughts straight — not after what I had just seen.
Two small loaves of bread. Five fish. Over five thousand people. And Jesus had fed them all. Every single one of them, with that small lunch, meant for just one boy.
What kind of Man is this? What kind of Man can make food from nothing? Enough to feed thousands? The throbbing of my thoughts seemed to match in rhythm to the pounding of my feet. One, two. One, two. One, two.
I heard John huffing not too far behind me. Jesus had asked us to ready the boat so that we and the other disciples could set sail once the others arrived. Jesus would be going up the mountain for a while alone, to pray. John began to catch up to me, so, competitive as I am, I began to speed up. One, two, one, two, one, two.
The boat that had started out as a tiny dot at the start of our race, grew larger and larger as we steadily neared it. I reached the finish line first, reaching out my arms triumphantly to touch the boat.
John came up behind me, breathing hard but grinning widely. “Someday, I will beat you, Peter,” he said, patting me on the back. “Just watch and see.”
“Keep dreaming,” I said, grinning back at him.
As John and I prepared to set sail, the silence only lasted for a few moments. Neither of us could believe what we had seen. Yes, we had seen Jesus perform miracles before: He had turned water into wine, He had healed the sick, but this, this was incomprehensible!
And we weren’t the only ones who thought this either. The people in the crowd were just as amazed. I had heard hushed whispers through the crowds as I was gathering the leftovers. They knew. They knew that He was the Prophet foretold by Moses: and they wanted to make Him their king.
And I suppose that’s why Jesus was headed off to be by Himself for a little while. To get away from the crowds. And to be with His Father.
Time seemed to fly by as John and I talked of the miracle that we had just seen, and of all the ones that we had witnessed while being His followers. After discussing it with my friend, there was no doubt left in my mind. This truly was the promised One.
I stepped into the boat and looked up into the sky, the gentle breeze tossing my hair. A few wispy clouds gently floated through the otherwise cloudless sky. My heart sang with praise to God. “The heavens declare the glory of God;” I said softly, quoting the Psalmist, “and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.”
“There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard,” John finished as he stepped up behind me. “So true, brother.” We stood there quietly for a moment, admiring the handiwork of our Creator as we gazed out across the peaceful sea.
We turned to see Thaddeus waving to us, walking over with the rest of the disciples.
“I see you have the boat prepared!”
“Of course, my friend,” I said, jumping out of the boat to greet him. “Ready to do some sailing?”
As the vibrant colors of evening began to streak across the sky, a dark cloud rose on the horizon. None of us seemed to notice. But before long, darkness filled the entire sky, the heavy clouds blocking out even the faintest trace of the sunset. I could feel the heaviness in the sky as the wind picked up. And then, all at once, the clouds let loose, drenching us with a torrent of rain.
“I don’t like the looks of this,” remarked Andrew.
I had to agree with him. After many years of being a fisherman, I knew that there was something different about this storm. It was larger, fiercer. I feared that if we did nothing, this storm would sink us.
I called to the others, but my voice was lost in the raging wind. Taking each step with great effort, fighting against the wind and the waves that were thrashing me to and fro, I managed to work my way over to Andrew, and together we tried to rid the boat of the water. The others followed our example but no matter how much water we managed to get out of the boat, it seemed that ten times as much rushed in to take its place.
I didn’t know what to do. The situation was making me desperate; this was hopeless, and I knew it.
After what seemed like hours, exhaustion took over me, and I leaned back against the side of the ship, slowly sinking to my knees. The rain pounded on my back, and the wind roared in my ears, but I closed my eyes, and shouted above the raging of the storm, “God, save us!”
Thaddeus had somehow managed to work his way over to me, and shook me violently. “Peter, what are you doing? Get up! We need your help!”
“It’s of no use,” I responded. But as I glanced up at Thaddeus, it was clear that he hadn’t even heard me. Instead, he was staring out into the storm, an expression of utter shock frozen on his face. “Thaddeus, what is it?” I asked. But he didn’t move. The look on his face began to frighten me.
Slowly, I struggled to my feet to see the other disciples looking in the same direction as Thaddeus. I turned to follow their gaze, and peered out into the storm. Out among the crashing waves, there was a figure. A white figure amidst the darkness surrounding it. I shielded my eyes from the rain, trying to get a clearer view.
“What is it?” asked Thaddeus.
“Can you not see?” Philip cried. “It is a spirit! And it’s coming this way!”
The statement grasped my heart with fear. But even though the sight frightened me, I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away. I wanted to move, to run; but instead I felt frozen in place.
We all stared as the figure approached, closer and closer. But as it neared us, I heard a voice, loud and clear above the raging of the storm.
“It is I, do not be afraid.”
Could it be? My mind raced. Could it really be Jesus? Walking on the water in this storm?
I didn’t know if I could believe it. Deep in my heart, I believed, but my mind questioned. I had to be sure.
“Lord, if it is really You, tell me to come to You on the water.”
A split second of silence followed, and everything seemed to stop. For just a moment, the waves no longer tossed me, the wind no longer roared. Then, with my head spinning and my mind racing, I heard one word in my ears.
I took one step, and then another. With my hands on the side of the boat, I began to lift my leg over. Without taking my eyes off of Jesus, I climbed over the side, and slowly let my feet down onto the water.
Everything went in slow motion.
Jesus held out His arms to me.
My feet touched the water.
Letting go of the boat with my arms, I stood up straight. On top of the water.
I could barely breathe, much less think. I didn’t let my gaze stray from Jesus. And so I stood there, for a full second, just looking into His eyes, not even grasping the fact that I was doing the impossible.
Jesus was making me stand on the water.
Jesus nodded to me, and I took a step. One step. And I didn’t fall.
And so I took another step, and another.
Before I knew it, I was halfway to Jesus. Halfway to His open arms.
I looked past Jesus, out onto the water behind Him. And I saw waves, huge waves. Where am I? What am I doing? There is a storm out here! I spun my head in all directions to look around me. The wind howled, laughing at me. The rain pounded on my head. The waves around me crashed, threatening to take me down. I had been at peace one second ago — just me and Jesus. Now, here I was in the middle of a raging storm. Fear grasped at me, clawed at me, started pulling me down. I was motionless, powerless, scared to death. I stopped breathing. I couldn’t move.
And I began to sink.
I started thrashing wildly. The rain pounded, the waves crashed on me. The waves fell on me, knocking me in all directions. The current grabbed at me, pulling me down into the murky depths. I was going down. I was drowning. No one could help me. I am going to die!
The dark water hit me, covered me. The icy coldness overwhelmed me. I turned my head wildly, but all that I saw was blackness. I fought for air as the water filled my mouth, choking me.
Jesus! There is Jesus standing right there! Why is He not helping me? I am drowning!
“Lord! Save me!”
It was my final cry of desperation. I held my hand up as high as I could as another wave hit me. I felt myself going down, down, down…
And then He grabbed my hand. He pulled me up out of the water, gently, but strongly up into the safety of His arms. I gasped for air, and collapsed into His embrace, weeping.
He held me close, and I no longer feared the storm. I knew that as long as I was with Him, I would be safe. Jesus grasped my shoulders, and held me at arm’s length. “Peter, you’re a man of little faith,” He said softly. “Why did you doubt Me?” The tenderness and love in His eyes brought me to tears. Why did I doubt? Why did I take my eyes off of Him?
With His hand in mine, Jesus led me back to the boat, once again on top of the water. The moment we were both inside, the storm ceased. Completely. I could hardly believe my eyes. I looked up at Jesus in utter amazement, and He smiled back at me. Looking over at John, I knew he was just as amazed. He glanced over at me and caught my eye, giving me a knowing look. He knew.
One by one, the disciples fell on their faces and began to worship Jesus, “You are truly the Son of God!”
And I knew that it was true.
As we sailed back to Gennesaret, my mind tried to comprehend what I had just experienced, but truly, I could not. All I knew, was that I was a disciple of the Christ, the Son of God.
And I was going to serve Him with everything in me.
~Based on Matthew 14~