Peter often gets a bad rap. Often, the one part of the story that we remember about Peter is that he sunk. He failed. But did he fail? Peter remains the only mortal man to have ever walked on water, but there were 11 other people on the boat. Why didn’t they get out? They missed the opportunity of a lifetime because they gave in to fear. Reason and logic overcame faith. But Peter, a fisherman, a man who knew more than anyone that a man doesn’t float on water (he sinks!), was eager to jump out and DO what he saw the Savior doing.
Was this experience a great failure? No! It was a great success! Peter learned many priceless lessons. Peter learned that he could walk on water! When we follow the Savior and do what He asks of us, we can do things we never even dreamed were possible. Christ was showing Peter the miraculous things he could do through faith! What a confidence booster! Peter must have thought, “Wow! If I can walk on water, is there anything, with Christ’s help, that I can’t do?” I wonder how many times Peter thought of that experience as he was symbolically asked to walk on water during his ministry – to do things that must have seemed impossible.
While [Peter’s] eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind might toss his hair and the spray might drench his robes, but all was well. Only when with wavering faith he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the black gulf beneath him, only then did he begin to sink….
It is my firm belief that if as individual people, as families, communities, and nations, we could, like Peter, fix our eyes on Jesus, we too might walk triumphantly over “the swelling waves of disbelief” and remain “unterrified amid the rising winds of doubt.” But if we turn away our eyes from him in whom we must believe, as it is so easy to do and the world is so much tempted to do, if we look to the power and fury of those terrible and destructive elements around us rather than to him who can help and save us, then we shall inevitably sink in a sea of conflict and sorrow and despair.
At such times when we feel the floods are threatening to drown us and the deep is going to swallow up the tossed vessel of our faith, I pray we may always hear amid the storm and the darkness that sweet utterance of the Savior of the world: “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. (Howard W. Hunter, “The Beacon in the Harbor of Peace,” Ensign, November 1992, p. 19)
As soon as Peter began to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (Matt 14:30) “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (Matt 14:31).
Jesus reached out his hand immediately. He didn’t put His hands on His hips and say, “Peter, it’s your own fault you’re sinking. Go swim a few laps and think about what you’ve done. Then, just maybe, I’ll think about forgiving and helping you…”
Peter learned that even when it was his own dumb fault that he was sinking, the Savior stood ready to save him as soon as He asked.
The other 11 apostles avoided “failure,” but, as Denis Waitley once said, “ Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Henry Ford put it beautifully: “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
How often has the Lord called us to do something, great or small, and we were too scared to leave our comfort zones and do it? What great opportunities have we missed when we have given in to fears or doubts? It is time to be like the great Apostle Peter and jump in with all our might and, despite the storms raging around us, put one foot in front of the other, keep our eyes on the Savior, and discover the amazing things we are capable of!