When the storms of life seem unbearable and you feel the waves crashing over your head, you might feel like your sinking and that you may never make it out of the storm. At just that moment, remember the love and presence of God in your life, and remember the lesson of Peter walking on the water as told in Matthew 14.22-34. So long as Peter remained focused on Christ, he was able to stay above the waves. When he focused on the severe storm, fear took over and he began to sink because he took his eyes off Christ. Stay focused and stay afloat.
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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
I'd like you to look up at the stained glass window on the side of the church and I want you to burn that image into your mind. That is a stain glass of this morning is gospel story and you see Christ rescuing Peter out of the water. We are blessed that we have that icon in our church because it is a constant reminder for us of God's love.
I can't tell you how many times, whether it is in confession or whether it is just in a conversation with beautiful members of our community that I find myself reminding people of this particular gospel lesson, because it is so important in our faith journey.
A couple of weeks ago, I reminded us that are going to be times in our life when our struggles and our pains and we ask God to take away our suffering. We ask God to take away our pain and as I reminded us a couple of weeks ago, sometimes He's not going to do that. This is an icon that reminds us of that truth as well, because there are going to be times, and maybe some of you are in the middle of that time right now.
They're are going to be times when you feel like you're sinking uncontrollably and that you look around at the struggles in life and you wonder how you're going to make it through. When those days come I want you to remember that icon and I want you to remember the love and dedication of God in our life. Because the truth of this icon, my brothers and sisters is very basic.
There is always going to be a storm that comes upon us that we think we can't handle. There is going to come a day or a week or a season where we encounter such a great storm in our life that we wonder if we're going to make it through. We sometimes feel like we are going to sink and we get clouded and our fear blinds us to God's love and our fear blinds us to the very presence of God in our midst.
That is the story in this morning's gospel. Trained, professional fishermen were out at sea in a storm. Now, you have to imagine for them to be filled with such fear, it had to be an amazing storm because every professional fisherman knows how to handle the sea. And it says here that their boat was being tossed around.
If you've ever lived up North, they call it a nor'easter when the storm just clobbers the coast. We're lucky on this coast. We don't get in from that way we get it from the other direction. But the storm was so intense that these professional fishermen began to panic. God was standing in the water in front of them and they were so focused on the storm, they thought He was a ghost.
They couldn't possibly believe that God was right there in front of them. Why else would the storm be so great? And Christ says, "Have courage. Do not be afraid." Easier said than done. When the waves are crashing over our heads of life, easier said than done by Christ to say, "Have courage. Be strong."
Peter says, "Lord, if it's you," he still not sure. He says, "If it's you, let me come out to you." Christ says, "Come on, come." Peter goes walking on top of the water in the middle of a great storm. And that's the important thing that we have to remember about this story? The storm continued to rage on, but as long as Peter was looking at Christ, he didn't notice the storm.
He gets out of the boat and he's walking on top of the water. He goes to meet Christ. Now, I'm imagining he's being thrown left and right as the waves come, but he's walking on the water and then for some reason he takes his attention off of Christ and what begins to happen, he begins to sink.
He looks around, it says, he notices how bad the storm is, “But when he saw that the storm and the wind was boisterous, he was afraid and began to sink and he cried out.” Κύριε, Σόσον με "Lord save me." And that's the beautiful icon that we have. Christ pulling him out of the water. "Why was your faith so weak?" He asks. "Just look at me," Christ is saying. So long as Peter kept looking at Christ, even though the storm was raging, he didn't suffer from it.
That is the truth of God's love for us. He doesn't promise a storm free life. What Ηe promises is that so long as we continue to stay focused on Ηim, as long as we keep our eyes razor focused on Christ, even though the storm rages around us, we'll be able to stay above it and the proof he says, "Lord saved me." Christ pulls him back up. He regained that communication with God.
He became again, in communion with God and they go walking back to the boat, but the storm was still raging. It wasn't until they finally got back to the boat and the boat gets to the shore and finally the storm stops. My brothers and sisters, I cannot tell you how long storms of life will last. All I can tell you is that when we remain focused on God, when we keep our eyes...
When I say laser-focused, staring at him day and night in our mind, this is the wonderful blessing we have to be able to fill our lives with holy icons, put an icon of Christ at your desk at work. Put an icon of Christ in your car, not just at home, over the doorway. Everywhere you encounter life, you should be able to be reminded of God's presence and when it gets tough, because we all know it does get tough.
When you feel like you're sinking, remember God is right there and is going to lift you up and Ηe's going to rescue you from that storm, but we can't do it without Ηim. We can't do it focusing on the storm. Peter only began to sink when he paid attention to just how bad the storm was. If you'll excuse the expression, he must have had an “Oh, woe is me” moment. We've all had them.
God, really, now you're going to give me this. I remember a dear friend of mine years and years ago and she had lost her two twin children, had died early in life. Her husband had cancer. She has since lost him too. I remember her saying to me, "I just wish God didn't trust me so much." But through all of that, she remained focused on God. And today by God's grace, she's raising his child from a previous marriage and living a wonderful life dedicated to God because she never took his eyes off of Him.
We are the blessed ones because we get to see the reminder every Sunday we come to church. We get to see that beautiful stained glass icon of Christ rescuing Peter from the storm. He will lift us up if we involve Him and we keep focused on Him. Glory to God for all things.
Be Transfigured is a production of Be Transfigured Ministries in cooperation with the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We depend upon your generosity to maintain our ministry. You can make a safe online donation when you visit our website. liveanewlifeinchrist.org.