But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” MT 14:30
Peter was fine walking on the water until he took his eyes off Jesus and started looking at the waves… uhh… wind… Looking at the wind? Hrm…
Peter was no stranger to miracle, and had to be remembering the day (Luke 5) that he’d fished all night and caught nothing, then taken fishing advice from a rabbi-carpenter and hauled in an enormous catch. Peter was no landlubber either; endless nights toiling on the water taught him well that the wind was the source of the waves. He knew exactly how dangerous the storm was, and allowed that knowledge to literally suck him down.
Walking on water is impossible no matter who we are, but it is perhaps more difficult for the experienced sailor than for the recently enlisted. As immature disciples, we often don’t even recognize the impossible nature of the task facing us. As we mature in our own eyes, we develop a tendency to take our eyes off the master and look at the swirling wind. We evaluate the circumstances, our own abilities, whether we really heard His command clearly, whether the timing is right, and what’s next after this step. In doing so, we ensure our own failure by dwelling upon the possibility of defeat rather than upon the instrument of our victory.
Thankfully, our Lord is patient, and reaches out to catch us more often than he allows us to fall and get a mouthful of water. It is unfortunate that we allow our enemy to remind us of the times we choked on saltwater when we should instead be rejoicing in the memory of our walk on the water, however brief it might have been.