Swimming with St. Peter

If I’m looking for a way to understand how strength and weakness coexist, I look no further than my good friend, St. Peter. Even his name announces the fascinating mix of saint and sinner that he was. “Cephas” means “rock,” both a sturdy foundation, and a sharp, irregular wall.

He knew in his heart that Jesus was the Messiah. Walking away from a fortune in fish, he joined Jesus that sunny day so long ago.  When Christ asked his Apostles, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15), it was Peter who answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And how can we forget our bold brother, as he commanded the lame man to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” There was a lot of leaping and praising God that day.

This bold, spirit-filled man also had his moments of weakness. When Jesus told his disciples that he would have to suffer and die, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “God forbid, Lord!” We all know what’s coming next: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” When Jesus was arrested, Peter was lurking in the courtyard outside the jail. Scared witless, he denied Jesus three times. Your heart just goes out to the guy, doesn't it?

My favorite story of the humanity of Peter is in Matthew:14. Peter sees Jesus walking across the seas in the middle of a storm. Peter calls out in great faith; “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.”

Jesus calls. Peter exits the boat. Peter sinks.

Now, this isn't funny, but I can’t help but smile. I’m smiling because I recognize this. I’m just like Peter. Full of faith, sure. But full of doubt too. I know that Jesus is divine and can do anything. But can I really do anything, if Jesus is with me? That’s where the rubber hits the road; this is the crisis of faith.

Peter decided, after leaving the boat, that he couldn’t walk on water. That would make a lot of sense if he was alone. But Jesus was with him; so all things are possible.

I had to take my ninety-six year old Aunt to WalMart to pick up her new glasses. I was scared to death. Having broken her hip last year, the resulting surgery left my Aunt significantly weaker. Leaning on a walker, her steps were faltering and unbalanced. A short woman, she needed to use a step to get up into my car. What if she falls?

Driving to pick her up, I prayed for safety, strength, and protection. Oh yeah, and for a WWF wrestler to show up and lift her in and out of the car! But like Peter, it was time to face my fears. Jesus is with me. All things are possible.

I am all the Lord has today to care for his ninety-six year old daughter. Why wouldn’t he help me?

I was able to support my Aunt, doing the ‘in-and-out of the car’ dance several times. She got her glasses, and, bonus time!, she got lunch at Baker’s Square. Not because of me, but because Jesus was with me.

It makes all the difference in the world. Just ask St. Peter.

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