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During my time in college I spent two summers working with the U.S. Geological Survey. As a nursing major, I was likely the least qualified for the research position I found myself in…studying hydrogeomorphology. I couldn’t even pronounce that at first, but I loved the job and was thankful for the opportunity. For those two summers my boss and I traveled to various rivers, streams, and creeks around Indiana to gather data on erosion in hopes of helping farmers who were losing their crops to water erosion.

One hot June day we were measuring a stream in Northern Indiana. I pulled on my chest high fishing waders and meandered into the water while my boss walked downstream along the banks to look for signs of erosion. Walking through the water was relaxing…listening to the sounds of summer in the woods around me and looking for little fish in the water. It was a serene summer day, and I was too busy looking at the surrounding woods to pay attention to where I was walking.
I took one wrong step and immediately felt my boots start sinking.

{Let’s pause for a very brief science lesson…
In Northern Indiana, stream beds are made mostly of clay and sand. Occasionally they combine in just the right amounts to make a mixture similar to quicksand. Like quicksand, struggling only makes you sink faster and there is a risk of becoming so stuck that you may sink below the surface of the water and drown.}

So I found myself sinking from ankle deep to shin deep in the stream. The more I struggled, the more I sank. When the water reached my thighs I began to panic- trying to reach for something on the shore that would help me pull myself from the water. I was too far from shore to pull myself out, too deep in the water to be able to pull my legs from the clay…I looked around and tried to think of how I could save myself.

But as I felt the water continue to rise around me as I sank, I realized there was no saving myself. My help would have to come from outside me. I yelled out for my boss, who came running to my rescue on the river bank and pulled me from the clay.

That day in the river revealed a lot to me about my heart, and reminded me of someone in the Bible who had endured an even more perilous water-sinking situation.


“You of Little Faith…”

In Matthew 14 we read the account of Peter walking on water. The disciples see Jesus walking on the sea and are terrified, and Jesus tells them “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter then asks Jesus to command him to likewise walk out on the water, and Jesus does. So Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water towards Jesus. Verse 30 tells us what happens next:

“But seeing the wind, [Peter] became frightened,
and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him,
and said to him,‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’”

When I read these verses, I often find myself thinking how silly Peter is. Jesus is right there…why does he doubt?! Doesn’t he know he just needs to find his strength in Christ instead of himself? If I were in that situation, surely I would have had faith, right?

Definitely not.
I would have had even less faith than Peter in that moment.
When Peter finds himself sinking, he calls out for Christ.
When I found myself sinking in the river, I tried to save myself.

If I was in Peter’s position, my first instinct probably would have been to turn around and lunge for the boat…to find a way to try and save myself. I know this because I find myself doing this often (not just in sinking sand!), and maybe you do too:

  • we try to save ourselves from anxiety through turning first to therapy or medication…trying to cure ourselves.
  • we try to save ourselves from coveting and greed by getting rid of social media…for a little bit at least, until we change our minds and start scrolling again.
  • we try to save ourselves from pride by working hard to seem put together…so we can avoid the humility that comes with seeing our sin exposed.
  • we try to save ourselves from discomfort by idolizing money, our looks, our “me time”…and reject the fruit that comes from generosity and selflessness.

There are so many ways I want to rely on myself instead of the saving power of Christ. So many ways I would rather try and fix things on my own than humbly confess and repent before God. But this is not how we, as Christian women, should live our lives. 1 John 1:9 assures us that:

“If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The way we grow in fighting our sin and living godly lives is not through our own effort and trying to save ourselves, but by relying on God and the Holy Spirit to help us love and obey Him.


A Mustard Seed

Even though Peter is doubting in that moment on the water, and Jesus says he has little faith, it is encouraging to know that even the little faith Peter has will continue to grow (like a mustard seed!) into a strong faith that will help start the early church…and Peter will walk with God until the end of his life! It is encouraging that even in the moments where the Lord shows me how little my faith is, even the smallest amount of faith can grow and grow and grow over a lifetime.

Where do you have little faith?
Do you need to trust God with your children, your anxiety, your finances, or a challenging trial in your life?
When we trust in ourselves, we will sink. Just like Peter. Just like me in the mud.

May we be women who trust in Christ alone.