What Are We Afraid Of?

What Are We Afraid Of?

What risks are we willing to take in our spiritual life? Are we willing to allow the Lord to drive us out into deep water, a place where we might no longer be in control? Are we willing to accept that the winds might be against us?

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”

– Matthew 14:26-27

Do not be afraid. These are some of the most powerful words in the New Testament, especially because they come directly from Jesus.

There are a number of key points we can take from this particular Scripture verse.

First, the boat actually represents the human soul, and it is interesting to note that the boat is far from land, out into the deep water. This analogy indicates that the soul has begun to abandon some of its worldliness and attachment to material things. This situation also reminds us of the instructions Jesus gave to Peter and his companions when He first met them.

At that time, they had experienced a hard but unproductive day of fishing. Jesus gave them instructions which they would later come to understand pertained to the new life to which He was calling them.

And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

– Luke 5:4

This reference to the deep refers to our spiritual life; we must be willing to push off the shore, the place where we are comfortable, and we must be willing to put out into a deeper spiritual life, where we are more dependent on the Lord. This is about the risks of living from within our soul rather than relying exclusively or even largely on our minds or our senses.

What risks are we willing to take in our spiritual life? Are we willing to allow the Lord to drive us out into deep water, a place where we might no longer be in control? Are we willing to accept that the winds might be against us? And are we okay that in that hour we may have no assurance other than Jesus.

This detachment is not always a deliberate choice on our part, sometimes the Lord allows it. The disciples did not choose to allow the wind to blow them that far offshore. But what matters is what happens next in this story, and it is that which reveals the maturity of a person’s faith.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

– Matthew 14:28-30

Now we might conclude that Peter is a bit of a coward in this story, but it is important to note he is the only one who actually got out of the boat. Peter is always the leader in circumstances like this. Peter is no coward. He is a little overly ambitious, but he is no coward.

How about us, are we willing to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm, over deep water, with no visible means of flotation? Do we have a sufficient amount of faith in Jesus to allow Him to call us out into the deep in our life? And what might we do if things do not work out?

Peter actually did exactly the right thing, but only after he did the wrong thing.

Striking out into the deep without any apparent means of support is fine, and we are asked to do this in our faith journey. But Peter’s mistake was in taking his eyes off Jesus.

You see, Peter chose to look at the winds, which equate to the trials and difficulties in our life, and Peter then lost visible contact with the Lord. That was his and often our mistake. But then, Peter did the most intelligent thing a human person can do in the midst of the storm. He called out, “Lord, save me!” 

And, just as the Lord He do will when we cry out to Him…

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

– Matthew 14:31-32

Yes, Peter was still immature in his inner spiritual life; he was not yet fully converted. His heart had not yet been won over to complete faith in Jesus Christ. That only happened after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Peter’s full conversion occurred when he rushed to meet Jesus on a beach. Here is how the Gospel of John records it, as Peter was in a boat some distance offshore.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. …That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.

– John 21:4, 7

Now granted, it was likely not storming in this account, but regardless, Peter does seem to have overcome his fear of the water.

How about us? What are we afraid of?

If our faith is not yet as mature as Peter’s was on the beach, we should not be concerned. We still need to be willing to step out into the deep, and when the storms become too much, we need only cry out to Jesus in prayer. “Lord, save me!” Then we will hear our Lord’s voice speak to our deep interior “Do not be afraid.

God Bless

Copyright © Deacon Mark Danis

Image credit: “Jesus Walking On Water” | Ivan Ayvazovsky, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please help spread the Gospel. Share this article with family and friends on Facebook and other social media.

We strive to operate on a very small budget, but we need your help. Both one-time and monthly donations are welcome. Just $10 a month will help cover the cost of operating Integrated Catholic Life for one day! Please help us bring enriching and inspiring Catholic content to readers around the world by giving today. Thank you!

Print this entry