Love Lifted Me!

I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea,
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me;
Now safe am I.

 

Souls in danger, look above;
Jesus completely saves.
He will lift you by His love
Out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea;
Billows His will obey.
He your Savior wants to be —
Be saved today.

 

— “Love Lifted Me,”
James Rowe, 1912

Peter was an experienced fisherman. He had no doubt experienced many troubling waters in his life. But this particular storm was placed in context when he and the other disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter had enough faith to recognize the Lord’s voice, and enough confidence to ask if he could walk out on the water to meet Him — and to do so when Jesus gave him permission.

What he did not have, however, was the faith to stay the course. Before too long his gaze drifted from the Lord to the circumstances. The preposterous nature of his situation began to dawn on him. A man can’t walk on water! Reality set in, and he started sinking.

But the true “reality” was, Jesus gave him the ability to take those first few steps. Surely, with perseverance, Peter could have completed His walk with the Lord. But, as is so frequently the case even with the most devoted of disciples, his faith fell short.

Jesus was disappointed in His friend, certainly. “Why did you doubt?” He asked. Peter had robbed himself of a glorious opportunity — one that surely any of us would do anything to have in our own lives. Perhaps, finally, this was the time to quit on Peter. His commitment to Jesus’ mission was based on misconceptions and prideful ambition. And surely Jesus, who knew the hearts and minds of men, anticipated that this would not be Peter’s last or greatest failure.

But Jesus did not quit on Peter that day, or any other day. He continued to exercise patience as Peter found and grew his faith. Even on the final night before Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, Peter and the rest were still testing His commitment to them. They continued to argue over who would be the greatest in the kingdom, even after the Lord’s Supper was instituted (Luke 22:24). Peter himself, along with James and John, fell asleep on duty three times at Gethsemane (Mark 14:37-41).

Why the persistence?  Why continue to give His flawed disciple chance after chance?  Simply put, Jesus loved Peter.  Jesus wanted Peter to succeed.  Jesus was more than willing to give Peter once opportunity after another either to succeed or fail, knowing how much Peter wanted to succeed. 

Peter’s failures remind us of our own, how we found ourselves sinking in a quagmire of sin despite His direction and encouragement. He reminds us how desperately we need Him to continually reach out to us in patient, loving compassion.  It thrills us to know that, even in our deepest failures, even when our shortcomings threaten to destroy us entirely, Jesus still loves us.  He is willing to reach down into the waters and lift us up, restoring the fellowship that we ourselves destroyed with our weakness and frailty.

This is the glory of salvation through grace.  We are not saved because we deserve it; we are saved because we do not deserve it, because we are in desperate need of saving, and because we have a Savior who will not abandon us when we need Him most.  Think about this the next time you sing the hymn many of you have sung a hundred times or more —

Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me!