In Max Lucado’s recent publication, Anxious For Nothing, he makes some awesome statements about fear and anxiety. One of my favorites is “Prayer trumps panic every single time.” It sounds so simple, yet I fail at this so often.
In Matthew 14:22-33, we read a passage I like to subtitle “Peter’s freak out.” Peter is in a boat with the disciples, and Jesus walks out on the lake toward them. The disciples think they’re seeing a ghost because Jesus is strolling along the surface of the water. Jesus tells them to “take courage” and not to be afraid (14:27). Peter responds in a way that many of us probably shake our heads at as we read the story. He basically tells Jesus, “Prove it’s You. Tell me to walk out to You.” When I read this verse today, I think, “Wow, Peter. What a fail. You’re telling Jesus to prove His power and existence to you.” Then I get hit with the thought, how many times have I done something similar? Ask God to prove it’s Him out there in the deep while I sit comfortably in my boat. I then do the ultimate Peter move…I step out into the water, start walking to Jesus, and then take my eyes off of Him and panic.
Peter’s “freak out” happened because he took his eyes off of Jesus and panicked. Wow. That sounds a lot like some of my freak outs. I get into a situation that causes me worry and I pray for peace, give it to Him to handle, and then promptly take it right back and panic.
Jesus expressed His frustration a bit with Peter in 14:31 when He reaches out and saves Peter from drowning. He then asks Peter why he doubted. When I think about Peter’s situation, I wonder what went through his mind. Instead of shaking my head, I start to feel badly for him. I think about all the times my faith has faltered along the way, and how easy it is to look away just for a second.
I immediately blame human nature—that urge in us to be in control of our own lives. God gave us this thing called free will. We sometimes go a little crazy and think that means we are in complete control. What makes us think we are capable of a task that monumental? We get caught up trying to be in the driver’s seat, and when things go wrong, WE try to fix them on our own.
Let me provide this reminder to you who may have forgotten: In the Bible, He compares us to sheep. For those not raised on a farm or not clued into what it means to be a sheep, let’s just say this isn’t really something to be cocky about. Sheep are not smart. If they happen to take a tumble and land on their backs, they typically can’t figure out how to get up on their own. They flail on their back baaing until either a shepherd or another animal helps them get upright. Let’s take a big humility pill now and realize that our level of comprehension compared to what God knows is like that of sheep. We probably shouldn’t try to fix anything without His help. Baaa.
My goal in this chapter of my life is to try to have the faith of Peter to step out of the boat and believe that “He’s got this” every single time. I am but a lowly sheep who needs some serious help to get through this life and all it has for me. Panic has no room to invade my mind because I will go to Him in prayer before it has a chance to occupy! Believe that prayer trumps panic, and turn to Him in prayer before you hit that panic button!