Matthew 14:22-33: “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
My favorite Bible story as a child was about Peter walking on water. Even the ungodly know this one and like it. Something about this miracle is attractive to all. I think that if we are honest about it, we all, at some point in our lives, thought it would be fun to walk on water. Peter did not do it for the fun of it, though, but for our instruction. All Scripture is for our instruction: we can learn much from him.
You see, home schooling well fits the details of Peter's famous walk. Jesus gives us, like Peter, an assignment to cross the water (the waters of life) and to go “unto the other side.” Before we know it, we are all in the tidy little ship of life and begin experiencing turbulence caused by the “contrary” spirits out there. We watch other children doing poorly in the State institutions, and we see how our own little ones could sink in this environment. We struggle just to remain afloat and suddenly notice that the Lord seems to be showing us a different way, a way to walk above the problem.
It is frightening and so radical, that it seems impossible. We think no one has ever done this before. Our friends, thinking it must be demonic, begin to draw back. “But we are not of them who draw back,” (Heb. 10:39) are we? We know it is right to live by faith. It seems like it is the Lord. It sounds like His voice. As we, like Peter, begin to wonder if He is approaching us (about home schooling, if it is really His idea or not) we also begin communicating with Him, praying for guidance: “Lord if it be Thou . . . ” We are not really seeking after a sign (Mt. 12:39), but we need assurance that we are not deceived. We want Him to call us in an unmistakable way. We fear striking out presumptuously.
Then it happens: Our seeking pleases Him and He actually calls. “Come,” is all He says. He does not say how; He does not say why. Only that one word must suffice. “Come.” The person of faith hears that one word and begins the journey. Oh, how the ship rocks as we approach the edge! You would think our one lonely action would dump the entire nation into the depths of the sea. That our friends cry out for fear is not enough; our own heart joins the chorus of doubters, does it not? Is it really Him? Am I abandoning my friends? Will the storm draw me under? Is Jesus really that powerful? Will my friends have to rescue me? Will I perish? Still, we must leave the seeming safety of the established method and head for that voice, that apparition that calls us to “come.”
So, we hoist our entire beings down, out of the confines of that ship. Notice that compared to the ship, walking on water requires that we seem to move downward. The State schools often claim to be a lofty height, and that home schooling only lowers us. As we take the first step, we learn something, though, that no one with a confined life aboard ship can know: it is good. It works. The power is there. We can do it. It is fun; it is better; it is a miracle. It is the Lord. Our past terrors suddenly seem so trivial. Imagine being afraid to have your own children at home with you! What could be more simply natural than actually experiencing their lives? We want to shout, to skip, to make sure we have an audience. We try all sorts of experimental techniques. We become experts. We look around some more.
We begin to sink.
Why? Scripture says that Peter saw the wind. Professional Bible scholars, who know much more than I do, have tried to tell me what those words REALLY mean, but I keep on thinking that they mean what they say. I looked up some of the words, and guess what? This wind (anemos) is the same wind that destroyed the foolish man's house-built-on-sand, and that powered Paul across the Adriatic just before he shipwrecked. Some wind! Peter did not know, yet, that this wind also obeys Jesus' commands. No, all he knew was that when he looked around, things looked fearful. So, he feared.
We do that, too. We begin to worry about all the things our windy friends and enemies told us and continue telling us. We begin to think our family might come to some harm at our own hands. We begin to fear they might miss out if we obey God. We begin to sink, not because we are doing wrong, but because we do not realize the truth: The winds obey Jesus. We think we are doing well, but we forget that, just as when Peter walked on water, it is a miracle. It is God's doings. We think we will fail, but we do not realize that we are not the ones doing it; God is. We consider all the possible dangers, and, realizing that we are too far from the ship to save self, we begin to flail about and to sink.
Some of us begin sinking immediately after the first step out of the ship. Our children, perhaps fresh from an ungodly school environment, need much correction. We do not stop to think that they will never receive that in a State-run school, and that they possibly are so needy because that is where they previously were. We latch onto our favorite sky-hook, fear of inadequacy. We fear our personalities might clash. We fear they cannot learn from the books we chose. It was a step down, after all, right? We quit. Our fears have caused us to sink. Soon our children are not our own, again.
Some of us wait awhile, taking a few more steps before we look around. We enjoy our children, and really want them with us, but we fear they will grow up warped without 30 barely supervised pre-teens around them, constantly.(!) We fear we are harming them if we cannot plunk them before a computer, daily. We fear . . . does it matter what we insert here? Again, our fears are as harmful to our walk as Peter's were to his. We begin to sink. We quit. Soon, our children are not our own, again.
Some of us stroll quite a ways before we notice the winds. We remained oblivious for a while, because we felt very confident at first. Later, however, we do not know so much. It may be the winds of algebra II, football, matchmaking, or college, but somewhere when we least expect it, we fear all that boisterousness. It is still the same old thing, though: “I might not do right; I might not fill my child's needs; I might not be smart enough. I, I, I . . . I quit!” We begin to sink. Soon, our children are not our own, again.
How do we escape this paralyzing free-fall? If we examine the course we have taken and the results, we do well. If we can see where the main problems lie, we can skirt them. If we realize the true defect, we can stop placing false blame.
First, we forget what we (unlike Peter) do know, that those boisterous winds must obey Jesus. In our failure to depend upon Him alone, we think we are dependent upon self alone. Of course, our own strength does not suffice for such a Godly task as obeying the call of God! We have forgotten to go to the Lord.
Second, we think that if we quit, we can go back. That is so wrong; to quit is to sink. The Word always accomplishes what God intends, and the word is, “Come.” He cannot lie. If God has called us, there is no real going back, but only going according to His Word via other routes. When we refuse to go the way He has spoken, He has other ways of transporting us into the center of His will. (Remember Jonah?) Those ways are not always as fun as walking on water, though.
Third, we think that if we could quit and go back to the ship, we would be better off. (Never mind that when we were on board we thought we would drown!) In reality, when the ship goes bad, so do its passengers. It may be indiscernible to us, because we, too, are surrounded by winds and waves. It is only while looking at the Lord that we can see a contrast, a possibility for excellence.
What is the one solution to the entire overwhelming descent? It is this: Forget the wind and remember Jesus. He is the one who calls and He is the one who sustains. It is His power. He is the guide. He is all in all. He is, as He said: “I AM.” I AM hath sent you, called you, helped you thus far. Whenever you would succeed, you must believe in your only source of hope. This is what Peter did. We must realize, if we are losing the battle, sinking as Peter did, to cry out to the Lord as Peter did. It makes such a difference. The Lord who spoke the entire adventure into existence can sustain it, can calm the winds. So, Come!
We absolutely must remember that Jesus constrains (requires) us to make the voyage, from the beginning. He knew about the approaching storm. He knew about the fears. He knew about the detractors. Still, this is what He told us to do. Remember, also, that although Jesus does sometimes travel by ship, He also does walk on water. The bizarre-seeming thing we do by educating our children at home, ourselves, is indeed legitimate. So, be of good cheer!
Last, we must remember something about the ship: although from the lofty standpoint of the ship, walking on water appears to be a step downward, this ship is in the middle of nowhere, being tossed around by contrary forces that will not be still until Jesus arrives on the scene. From the standpoint of the bottom of the sea, (where the ship actually is headed) walking on water with Jesus is a very good place to be. So, be not afraid!
Come! Be of good cheer! Be not afraid!
Stop looking at the wind.
Katharine Trauger has home schooled her six children for over twenty years. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Arkansas, and enjoy gardening, reading, and Bible study.
Katharine Trauger has homeschooled her six children for over twenty years. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Arkansas, and enjoy gardening, reading, and Bible study.