Failures; July 23, 2020


Matthew 14:28-29 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

The whole story is so famous that I had a hard time deciding how much to transcribe for this. We put Peter down for losing his focus and starting to sink, and even Jesus chided him for his lapse of faith, (verse 31) but how many of us would have had enough faith to get out of the boat in the first place? For that matter, how many of us would have had the boldness to ask for confirmation the way Peter did? Peter was a man with many rough edges, but Jesus recognized qualities in him that would be very valuable in establishing His Church. It was not long after this that Jesus asked His disciples to define Him, and Peter so beautifully replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) I would venture to say that the experience of walking on water had a lot to do with the assurance of that declaration. God knows the gems He has placed in each human being, and He knows what it will take to bring those out and polish them. Some people accept the “mining” and polishing that requires, and some reject it and run from Him. Peter’s ultimate test was one he seemed to fail, when he denied three times that he knew Jesus, but where he didn’t fail was that he didn’t run from Jesus, but just acknowledged his own fault. (Matthew 26:75) In response, Jesus gave him a personal audience after His resurrection that we aren’t given the details of, just that it happened. (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5) We often focus on failures, our own or others’, and fail to see the good things God is doing in that process. In today’s story, if Peter hadn’t started sinking, he might well have become insufferably puffed up about himself, instead of being absolutely convinced of the deity of Jesus. We are not to condemn, either ourselves or others, but rather seek God for how He is going to turn failure into blessing. (Romans 8:28)

I have long known that there has never been anyone who achieved great success without also experiencing failure. One of the notable things about Elon Musk is that he has consistently said, “Failure is an option.” Playing it safe doesn’t bring great victory! At the same time, I don’t know how well I have applied that knowledge. So long as knowledge remains theoretical, it’s just words. It is only when it is applied and experienced that it becomes real. That’s what James was talking about in James 1:22, that I quote frequently. I need to be willing to “get out of the boat,” even if I sink a few times, to apply my faith that my God can do anything at all, even using me.

Father, thank You for this Word. Guide me in communicating it on Sunday. Thank You for the beautiful paintings Jim Van Farrow did for us of this story. Show me how to use those to get the message across. Guide in who reads the Scripture in Japanese. Lord, it looks like we will have a larger-than-usual group here Sunday. Help me not be distracted by numbers or anything else, but be fully faithful and obedient to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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