Right after Jesus feeds the five thousand, Jesus sends the disciples away and takes time for himself. As often happens in life, especially life on the sea, the disciples soon found themselves caught up in a storm. But they were content to weather it out. They had faced storms before, they would face them again.
But when they saw Jesus walking toward them out of this storm, they were terrified. They cried out in fear, despite having just seen miracles. He wasn't where He was supposed to be. People were safe in the boats.... not on the water! When Jesus calls out to them, assuring them He is not a ghost, Peter challenges Him saying, “If it's you, call me to walk on the water too.”
Now, about then, I would be wondering if it really was Jesus calling me or some spirit wanting to drown me, but Peter doesn't hesitate. He steps out onto the stormy sea and walks on the water. He trusts that it is Jesus, and that Jesus can give him – bumbling, human, fisherman Peter – the ability to walk on water. And he does! The storm keeps crashing around him, with high waves, probably some lightning, strong winds, and ominous thunder. And instead of being in awe of the fact that He is walking on water, the lightning illuminates those waves, and the wind's roar is broken only by the thunder's rumble, and he is astounded by his weakness. And he sinks.
Instantly, he reaches for Jesus, recognizing his error. And Jesus pulls him back up, shaking his head and saying, “Oh you of little faith. Why do you doubt?”
Peter didn't doubt that Jesus could call him onto the water. Peter didn't doubt that Jesus could save him and even get him back to the boat. He had to walk back to the boat with Jesus, as I rather doubt Jesus lifeguard-swam Peter back. But Peter doubted that he had been given the ability to master the waves. Peter doubted that he could walk amidst the storms and uncertainties of the water.
Too often, we call out, “Save me!” when we forget who we are instead of remembering that we have the power to surf on these waves without a board. We can surf barefoot and crest waves that would pulverize a surfer if we but asked Jesus to guide us. Instead, we see our weakness and cry out, “Save me!”
Often, our doubt isn't in God's power to save us when we fall, but it's in our own ability. We forget that we've been given the grace to walk on these stormy waters. We aren't called to sit safe in the boat, content to weather out the storm. And we're not called to sink and have to cry for help every time a wave crests. Instead, we're called to ride the waves and walk the sea.