Matthew 14:13-33 (NIV)

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18″Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.  22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29″Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:28 (NRSV)

Peter answered [Jesus], “Lord, if it is you, comman me to come to you on the water.”

DEVOTION – Jean Bonin (Alberta, Canada)

It seemed that one winter storm with heavy snow and driving winds would barely end before the next storm blasted in, leaving us homebound and waiting for the skies to clear.  Those who lived in town might have enjoyed a brief respite from their usual routine, but here on the farm we either had to get the food to the livestock or the livestock to the food.  Horses pastured a mile from the house didn’t seem far away until I had to haul feed to them on a road made invisible by snow drifts.  Lucky for me someone had ventured out before me and “broken a trail” that left a narrow, slippery track of ruts.

As I was maneuvering that track and praying, “Lord, please keep me in the ruts,” I realized that spiritually I really needed God to do the opposite for me.  I was in a spiritual rut.  I was unwilling to face new challenges.  I had often asked the Lord not only to keep me safe in uncomfortable experiences but to keep me out of uncomfortable experiences.

Ruts are a safe place in a blizzard, but in our spiritual life ruts can be hazardous to our relationship with Christ.  The passage from Matthew 14  tells us that Peter trusted Jesus enough to get out of the boat during a storm.  We too can trust God enough to get out of the ruts that keep us from living more faithfully and abundantly.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Anything we can easily do ourselves doesn’t require faith.

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, help us to trust you more than we fear situations that may surround us. Help us to get out of our ruts. Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: Farmers and Ranchers