Unraveled by Uncertainty

read // MATTHEW 14:22-33

from the artist // LISLE GWYNN GARRITY

At the start of this chapter, John the Baptist is brutally beheaded. Jesus withdraws from the crowds to a deserted place, yet is followed by the masses—perhaps many of

them former followers of John the Baptist. Moved with compassion, he heals the sick and miraculously generates bounty from a meal of five loaves and two fish.

Then, he “immediately” rushes the disciples into a boat, dismisses the crowds, and retreats to a mountain by himself. Perhaps he needs space to grieve John and to grapple with the gravity of his calling. The crowds and demands of his ministry were surging; in the same way, the waves and the wind begin to batter the boat that had drifted far from shore. If you’ve ever been in open water during a storm or even high winds, you know the shockwave of fear that pulses

through your veins. Yet, as dawn breaks, a mirage beckons to them, casting out words to buoy them up: “Do not fear.”

What I find in Peter’s response is not a challenge or a profession of doubt, but a willingness to step into the swell, like a trust fall into the unknown. Perhaps in seasons when our sense of certainty and security unravels, our desperation is more likely to convert into courage. Is there

something about unraveling that makes us a bit less riskaverse, a bit more willing to try what we wouldn’t have dared when everything felt predictable and sure?

Imagine this same scene with no storm, no raging seas, no ghostly glimpse of Jesus skimming the surface. Would Peter have stepped in then? Would he have expanded his definition of what’s possible? Would he have experienced the divine so surprisingly, so surely? Would you step in?

look //

Take a few moments to gaze upon the artwork. Breathe deeply in quiet meditation as you observe the visual qualities of what you see: color, line, texture, movement,

shape, form.

Now take a deeper look. What parts of the image are your eyes most drawn to? What parts of the image did you overlook?

Now engage your imagination. If you were to place yourself in this scene, where would you be and how would you interact with what surrounds you?

reflect //

- What has unraveled and/or is unraveling in this story?

- Why do you think Peter asks Jesus to order him to walk on water in Matt. 14:28? What is he hoping to accomplish? Do you find yourself acting similarly when you are filled with doubt?

- During seasons of uncertainty, how do you release anxiety and practice trust?

pray //

Unravel my uncertainties, my fears, and my doubts into courage to step forward. Amen.

Highland Presbyterian Church


111 Highland Avenue

Fayetteville, NC 28305



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