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Ivan Aivazovsky's painting Walking on Water (1888)

God says in the book of Matthew,

“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.”

Matthew 14:22

The word straightway is an old English term which means “immediately”.  By the Holy Spirit, Jesus knew that his disciples needed to get into the boat and head for the other side of the lake without delay.  A fundamental principle of walking on water is that you must obey God within the time constraints given without fail in order to be in His will. Many times what our Father asks us to do is very time sensitive.

In verse 23 of the book of Matthew we read,

“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.”

Matthew 14:23

Walking on water takes right relationship

Walking on water takes preparation and requires prayer to bring yourself into right relationship with your heavenly Father.  When God asks us to do something totally out of the ordinary we must become quiet before Him allowing ourselves to focus on His Spirit without distraction so that we can move in His timing and without fear.

In verse 24 we learn,

“But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.”

Matthew 14:24

It is not uncommon for storms to suddenly appear when God asks us to step out in supernatural faith.  The devil does not wish for us to begin to operate to our full potential and will resist our efforts to obey our Father’s voice.  Satan considers the spiritual realm his dominion and will not let us step into it unchallenged.  Whereas this fact seems obvious many times when we are stepping out in extreme faith we need to remind ourselves of this principle.

We don’t always know why God does what He does

The disciples also might have been wondering why Jesus sent them ahead into a storm when He had demonstrated foreknowledge so many times before. Perhaps they even thought that their Master had made a mistake and should have been with them.  Surely they did not expect what was about to take place. Often times God allows us to experience opposition and even personal danger in order to show forth His power and glory in our lives and also to give us opportunity to grow spiritually.

Verse 25 reads,

“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.”

Matthew 14:25

Don’t lose faith even though the hour is late

The Jewish night is divided into four watches. The fourth or final watch is the time just before dawn when it is darkest. All night the disciples had been struggling against the raging waves and were quite possibly nearing exhaustion.  It is a common theme for God to show up in the darkest hour when all hope is lost.  He does this because He wishes to purify our faith by taking every natural hope from us so that we simply believe.  Another reason God often shows up at the last minute is to make it obvious that no one else could possibly bring about the deliverance we so desperately need.  A very good example of this type of behavior is when all of Israel faced pharaoh’s armies at the red sea.  When all hope in the natural was gone it pleased God to do the impossible through supernatural intervention so that He could be shown for what He is: the almighty savior.

Next, in verse 26, we see Jesus walking on water:

“And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.”

Matthew 14:26

When familiar explanations don’t work

We are so quick to disbelieve, aren’t we?  Our minds often try to force some sort of familiar explanation for supernatural events rather than accept the obvious.  Truly, if it looks like God and you bear witness to it in your spirit, most likely, regardless of the circumstances, it probably is God.  Let us train ourselves to be quick to believe and slow to doubt.

How did Jesus walk on the water?  I believe that Jesus was able to defy the natural order of things simply because His Father made it possible. Jesus acted upon the voice of God and because of His faith, God made the water as solid as dry ground. In our own lives, through prayer and alone time with God, we will be directed to do that which seems impossible also.  What God asks us to do might look like a sure disaster and we may think that obeying His word will even be dangerous.  However, God never asks us to do something without making a way to do it, even if it looks crazy. This includes, but is not limited to, violating the natural laws of this universe if need be.

Here is a truth:

“Walking on water is not impossible but rather it is our hesitance to obey God and step on to the water that causes us to sink.”

God knows that people normally cannot walk on water and was fully aware of this fact when He asked His Son to do so.  The act of faith that caused the impossible to be possible took place when Jesus walked to the water’s edge and actually stepped onto the lake.  At the moment that His foot left dry ground, God rearranged the laws of physics allowing Jesus’ feet to find sure footing.

This is how one walks on water literally and figuratively.  When God speaks and we obey He makes the impossible possible.  God’s will for our lives is often times very clear and it is only our natural minds, rebelling against His wishes that cloud the issue. When our minds say, “This is crazy” it only indicates that God must have something supernatural in mind.  Natural circumstances play no part in walking on water because it is a supernatural act made possible by God according to our faith put into action.

Here is another truth,

“As we obey He makes the way.”

In verse 27 Jesus said:

“But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Matthew 14:27

Jesus is cheerful even though a storm raged around Him.  He is above the storm and in fact, has mastery over it.  Through faith, we are not subject to this natural realm if we are in the will of our Father.  The natural order of this world does not apply to us because as we obey God we have dominion over all that would normally prevent us from accomplishing His directives.  If we have faith to simply do what He says, no natural circumstance will prevent us from succeeding. This is why Jesus states,

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

Matthew 21:21

God says:

“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.”

Matthew 14.28,29

Walking on water is infectious.  When people see you doing the impossible by faith they naturally want to give it a try too.  Just as His Father had bid Jesus to walk on water now Jesus was bidding Peter to walk on water.  In the same way that Christ stepped out by faith, now Peter stepped out by faith and went to Jesus.  Often times it takes just one person to actually obey God in the impossible to liberate others to do the same.  Christ is the first born of many brethren and as He is, so we are to become. As we learn to walk on water by faith, we encourage others to believe God for the impossible in their lives as well.

Taking your eyes off of Jesus

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”

Matthew 14:30

So often we fail simply because we let fear of natural circumstances make us doubt in the midst of our walk of faith.  True faith is total and unreserved commitment to the will of God in our lives no matter what the cost or consequence.  Once we are out of the boat and on the water, we must totally commit, knowing that natural obstacles have no more relevance to what we are doing.

Jesus lends a hand

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Matthew 14.31

Doubt is dangerous after we have committed to the impossible in our lives.  When we leave the natural realm and enter into the supernatural world of our Father we must keep focused and know that doubt is not something we can afford to entertain anymore.  However, let us give credit where credit is due and recognize Peter did get out of the boat and walked on water for a time.  Obedience even in failure is better than lack of faith and refusal to try.  When we step onto the water, even if we sink, Jesus will be there to lend a hand and encourage our faith.

Lastly, in verse 32 we learn,

“And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.”

Matthew 14:32

There was never any real problem

In reality, the disciples were never in any actual danger.  Everything that transpired that night was according to God’s will and in His hands. Though everything in the natural looked like they would perish, God knew that by morning they would be safe and secure on dry land.  What looked to be a bad mistake actually was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit so as to develop their faith and to be an object lesson for billions of believers down through the ages to come.  Often times, when extraordinary events take place in our lives, there is much more being accomplished than just what is in our field of view.

If God is calling you to walk on water in certain areas of your life I encourage you to simply trust, obey, and take that first step. From Jesus and Peter we learn that if we dare to listen, hear, and obey on time we will find the water is really a lot more solid than it appears.

Oceans by Hillsong United, sung by ELENYI