“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? (Matthew 14: 25-31).
“Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”(Isaiah 41:10).
We live with more fear and intimidation of the physical universe than we realize. We're accustomed to bowing down to forces and powers outside ourselves. Not perceiving the spiritual forces that maintain all harmonious action, we bow down daily to the seeming laws of material existence. In a sense, we've been broken in spirit by these seeming powers, with little inner strength to meet and master them.
The above episode in the life of Peter illustrates this mental intimidation. Here was Christ Jesus, demonstrating the glory of his own divine being and its relationship to the universe, when his disciple, Peter, desiring to prove this same glory of his own divine selfhood, said to Jesus, “...bid me come unto thee on the water.” Now, in an instant of realization of his divine being, Peter stepped out unto the surface of the sea and walked, breaking what he knew of the physical law of gravity, proving, just for a brief period of time, that what goes up doesn't, necessarily, have to come down. It all depends upon a lot of things like, who one really is, where one really is, and what laws actually exist to govern God's creation.
But the training of his human lifetime took over, as he viewed the material scene and accepted the enormous power of the ocean forces. Then Peter's trembling thought cried out for spiritual assistance, and Jesus stretched out his hand to him. This was enough for Peter to again receive the strength his thoughts needed to continue the walk against the believed law of gravity. He leaned upon his Master's spiritual understanding and strength, knowing it would be enough to bring him back to safety, even in the threatening physical realm.
The truth is, the Christ identity within each of us is always holding out this hand to us, to strengthen our trembling thoughts and fears. That hand is within our reach every instant of our lives. The glory of our own divine being, as God's own sons and daughters, is always trying to get our attention and drag it away from the mesmeric world beliefs that brings us down. The stretched out hand is symbolic of the spiritual strength, which perpetually flows to us from God's own intelligence, wisdom and spiritual power. But Peter had to ask for it, and so do we, in order to perceive and receive it's presence and authority over all true laws of the universe.
The weakness of Peter is the shared weakness of us all; it is the doubt of Spirit's supremacy over matter. It's the mental training that sees power in the creation instead of the Creator. It's the trembling thought that fears mindless material forces instead of recognizing that divine Intelligence, alone, is the Lawmaker, and has put everything under man's feet. Even before the birth of Jesus, the psalmist saw this God-given dominion which Jesus demonstrated for us: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the work of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”(Psalms 8: 3-6).
It's good to remember, too, that just as we share Peter's weakness, we can also share his triumph. After all, he did walk on the sea. No one's really done that lately. Just to be in the daily presence of the spiritually-minded Jesus must have been enough to endow those around him with moments of great conviction in spiritual power over the physical illusion of power. And this conviction (absolute faith) in God's supreme and loving control over all, is needed to transform what is wrong in the human experience, back into patterning what is right in the true, spiritual universe of God's creating. Sooner or later, we all must come to the realization that it's our own, deeply held beliefs which control our earthly experience on this material plane of thought. Thus, our darkness can be turned back into light, with a change in thought from the material to the spiritual.
The spiritual enlightenment received by Jesus' disciples and followers healed diseases, too. Disease is also something we're trained to believe in as part of the natural order (or disorder) of the universe. Yet, today, people are proving through evidence of spiritual healings, all over the world, that disease and destruction were never part of God's harmonious order or universe. These healings which rely upon conviction (without doubt) in God's loving control over all creation, breaks, first, the mesmerism of world belief in disease as a natural part of the universe, and, second, sets free the imprisoned thought, which transforms our physical expression of body back to the wholeness of our real, spiritual, Christly identity.
Now, I've never had a literal walking-on-water experience, but just last winter I had my first dominion-experience over the believed law of gravity. It happened like this: one morning, I was on my way to the post office, driving on an icy road. As I crept along, I came to a stop sign and needed to turn left. I knew this was a trouble spot, because the road I was turning unto had a deep ditch on its right side. I did come to a complete stop and thought I could make the turn slowly, but my wheels locked into a slow slide and the front end of my car went, at an angle, into the ditch or ravine, about five or six feet deep. But I didn't crash to the bottom. The front wheels were actually suspended in mid air and the car was hung up by my back wheels, stuck in the mud at the top edge of the ravine. I was still in the driver's seat, staring straight down into the ravine.
So there I was, afraid that my back wheels would give way, plunging my front end straight to the bottom of the deep gully. I wasn't sure what to do, since there were no other cars on the road at the time; and when I moved, the car moved. If I tried to get out, I was sure the car would go head first and smash the whole front end; and I might not escape injury either.
All I knew was to silence fear. I asked God to make me feel Its presence with me. It came to my thought to remember that there is no such thing as a material law of gravity. God made all law, and no law of God's would ever present a danger to Its spiritual creation, or to anyone in creation. I took a deep breath and declared the allness of God's kingdom and power, and the unreality of a material place where I could be in danger. I declared the presence of my own Christ Consciousness which knew no fear. Within seconds, a strong command came to my thoughts. “Put the car in reverse and put your foot on the accelerator, all the way to the floor.”
I immediately obeyed this directive, but the back wheels seemed only to spin deeper into the mud, so I stopped. The mental voice said, “Don't take your foot off the accelerator. Floor it!” I did so again, and something abnormal happened: The spinning wheels stopped, and I felt something lift the entire car a few inches upward, in a very level way. Then I felt as though a large sheet of plywood or something, slid under the car and all four wheels were firmly touching this invisible surface. My front wheels were still suspended in space, so there was nothing visibly under them, yet all four wheels had traction. Then the reverse gear activated and I lessened my acceleration, backing slowly upward and unto the road, without my front wheels hitting the slope coming back up.
I pulled forward smoothly as if nothing extraordinary had happened. All the way to the post office I was thanking God, but also in awe of what had just occurred. On my way home, I stopped to view the accident site, but there was no sign of anything except where my back wheels had spun in the mud. On the earth, there was no sign of the front wheels making the return trip up the slope of the ditch. I now know what it might feel like to be in a spaceship that is suddenly gripped and lifted by a tractor beam. My car felt, to me, as if something merely picked it up gently and set it down on a flat, yet still inclined surface, that let me back out of the place where I was suspended.
During that day and the next, I called several people (all who probably thought I was slightly deranged) to tell them what had happened. Many months later, now, I realize that this was just one more, (not miraculous but natural) proof of God's eternal, invisible care of the universe and all life in it. I had, in my weakness, reached out for God's almighty hand, and it was already there.
And that's what Peter's walk was all about. It was the proof of that Almighty presence and power that knows no disease, no death, no destruction, no accident in its creation. Peter's walk, then his doubt, then the hand of God, reaching through the Christ Self in each of us, to deliver us from the falsities that our doubts and fears produce, were proof that the spiritually invisible is not the physically impotent. Peter's brief triumph on that boisterous sea was the smile of God, watching a struggling child really learn to walk. And the proud Father knew that, just for an instant, he had walked all by himself.