Not preaching the next two weekends, so went back into the archive and found this from August 11, 2008. I wrote this while I was Vocations Director and living at the seminary:
"But when [Peter] saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:30-31)"
The parishioners of my first parish know that I have an affinity for homemade chocolate chip cookies. I remember getting angry when my pastor would eat the last one of a batch someone had made for me us even though he didn't have much of a sweet tooth. Yesterday, when I went over for dinner at the seminary, I knew there were some cookies that were baked on Friday stored away in the fridge. Now since its a big kitchen, we have a walk-in fridge that is huge. I walked in to get the tray of cookies and the big refrigerator door closed behind me. I really didn't pay much attention to the door because my hungry eyes were fixed on the cookies. When I got finally had the cookies in my hand, I turned to walk out and reached for the emergency hatch to let me out, except that...it was broken. I kept jigglying it and turning it over and over and over again, but the door wouldn't open. I started banging on the door and started thinking that the cook was frying my dinner some 20-25 feet from the door and the seminarians were all the way in the dining room. I banged on the door again, and then reached into my pocket to get my cell phone which I started to fumble with my hand. All of the sudden the door opened and the cook found me with my cell phone in one hand and two chocolate chip cookies in the other. "Father," he said, "you're pale!" I started going on and on about the latch being broken and he started laughing and said, "Father, the latch isn't broken. If you wanted to open the door, all you had to do was push." Doh!
It was that simple! And it was simple for Peter. If he wanted to walk on water, all he had to do was keep his eyes fixed on the Lord and ignore the wind and the waves around him. Except he couldn't. Not many of us can. We know the Lord is there. We know he is going to take care of us, but the storms in our lives distract us from keeping our eyes fixed on him. I made light of some cookies that got this greedy little priest in trouble, but what distracts us that gets us in trouble? What distracts us that prompts us to sink in fear like Peter? Yet despite our fears, the Lord continues to assure us, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. (Matthew 14:27)" Again, easier said than done because whenever our faith is tested we tend to sink more often than allowing ourselves to be embraced by the caring presence of our God. Yet, he is there. We may not see him, we may ignore him, we may even look the other way to focus on the storms and the sitcom-ish predicaments we get ourselves into, but we must never doubt that when the storms in our lives die down, the Lord will be right there with us to remind us that he has never left our side.