In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples are terrified as they cross the sea during a storm. As their boat is being tossed about, they see Jesus at a distance and hear him telling them not to be afraid. Jesus invites Peter to come to him on the water. Peter does and manages a few steps before he becomes frightened and sinks. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”, says Jesus when I stretches out his hand and catches Peter.
I had a powerful experience praying with this passage one day. Like Peter, I stepped out onto the water and managed a few steps before I started to sink. In a flash, I felt Jesus’ hand picking me up. Then the “record skipped” so to speak (for those old enough to remember listening to a record before we had tapes and CDs), and that piece of the scene kept playing over and over again. Over and over I sank and Jesus reached out his hand to lift me up. Fall. Lift up. Fall. Lift up. Fall. Lift up. Over and over.
At some point, while the scene still played, I heard/felt/experienced Jesus saying “Do you get it yet? Do you get it yet? Do you see yet that no matter how many times you fall, I’ll pick you up.” How long will we do this, I wondered. “As long as it takes” was the response. Jesus had all the time in the world. “We’ll do it for however long it takes…for however long it takes for you to know that I’m not going anywhere.”
We inevitably will fall from time to time along the way. The security Jesus offers was never that we won’t fall. It is rather the knowledge that Jesus will always be there to pick us up.