I was made to come to You.
The lyrics of an old favorite song rang out as my car bounced along the road. The truth of the words resonated with me as I drove home.
Come what may, I was made to come to You.
That morning, we had gathered for Bible study to look at the well-known story of Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water towards Jesus. (see Matthew 14:22-34) As we discussed the passage around our table of 8, the story took form in my imagination. I could see Peter’s wide eyes, feel the water as it splashed over the boat, hear his frightened comrades react to the storm. Scripture tells us the disciples were initially afraid then later astonished, but no dialogue is recorded between Peter and his friends or within himself. Rather, it is the obedient actions of Peter that stand out in this story.
After Jesus identifies Himself and tells them not to fear, Peter calls out to the Lord with a curious and daring request – ‘Lord, if it’s you, Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ (Matt. 14:28)
Peter’s words baffle and convict me. In spite of his fear and the strong winds whirling around him, Peter wants to come to Jesus; he is willing to step out on the water in the midst of a storm to reach his Lord. Peter also puts his hope in Jesus’ authority – if it’s You, I’ll come on the water. Peter knows he can’t will his feet to walk upon the water or summon up the courage on his own to take the first step. With his eyes on Jesus, Peter begins to walk on the water.
This tension of fear and faith – where our belief in who Jesus is clashes with our fear that His power and goodness won’t be enough – is particularly expressed in another Gospel story. Mark 9:14-24 introduces us to a father who pleads with Jesus to help his demon-possessed son.
The father describes his son’s condition to Jesus and requests, ‘If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’
‘ “If you can”?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’
In times of difficulty or doubt when we struggle to believe God is near or listening, we can find encouragement in these passages of Scripture. Oftentimes, my natural tendency is to come to the Lord when I am doing well. When I am happy or in a good mood, when my day is going smoothly or ends on a good note, faith-filled gratitude flows more willingly, and like a child, I want to tell God, “look what I did today!” When a day or even an hour is characterized by hurtful words spoken in haste, an impatient action, or a selfish response, I just want to figure things out on my own. I don’t want to come to Jesus. In frustration or discouragement, I think He will be disappointed in me. I’ve failed too many times. I don’t want to bother him.
And still, my Lord’s voice rises above the noise like it did for Peter. COME.
We can find comfort in Jesus’ invitation. Indeed, He speaks in Matthew’s gospel, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) But Jesus also calls us to come to Him as an act of obedience and trust. It isn’t always easy or even comfortable to come to the Lord in the midst of a painful day or personal failure, but the reward of drawing close to our Savior is worth it.
As I drove home that morning after Bible study, I realized anew the hidden beauty of challenging situations and hopeless circumstances in our lives – they lead us back to Jesus. I was made to come to You. If we are created to be in relationship with the Triune God, and I believe that we are, then everything we face – every joy we experience, every sorrow we endure is an opportunity for us to come to Jesus. Does that make our struggles disappear? No, but in coming to Jesus in the midst of trials, doubts, and disbelief, we find our strength and our joy in Him. In coming to Him with steps of faith and obedience, He renews our confidence and builds up our faith – help me overcome my unbelief, Lord.
We were created to come to Jesus, friend. Come hell or high water, as one of my college professors often said, may we draw near to our Lord and Savior. May we come to Him when His good gifts are tangible and overwhelming. May we come to Him when we are left speechless by loss and undone by doubt and confusion.
Let’s return a final time to Peter on the water. A stormy sea is not exactly the ideal setting for water walking practice. Perhaps in the back of his mind, Peter was thinking, Jesus, let’s try this later … on calmer seas, in more shallow waters, when a storm isn’t raging. And yet Jesus calls him to come.
The story of Peter reminds me that I cannot wait for my life circumstances to be tamer and less turbulent to come to Jesus. I cannot hold off till my doubts and fear are thrown to the side before taking steps of faith towards my Savior. As the days go by, I find that the sweetest times of communion with the Lord I ever experience happen when I come to Jesus in the midst of life’s turbulent storms.
May we step forward and answer our Lord’s call to come, keeping our eyes fixed on Him, the One who is the author and perfecter of our faith.