About 13 years ago, my life was in the throes of a tempest of my own making. A series of bad decisions fueled by the fire of self-absorption had landed me in my own boat of isolation, tossed about by the consequences of sin. But God conspired to create the perfect storm of conversion, if only I would be willing to jump out of my sinking boat. The beautiful irony is that this drama was literally playing out on the Sea of Galilee.
Along with my wife and an intimate group of family and friends, I was on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Tiberius when this particular passage was read aloud. I reached into my pocket and read aloud from a key chain engraved with the Suscipe prayer of St. Ignatius: “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty…’ Like Peter, I heard the call of Jesus to get out of the boat and place my trust in the one who would calm the storms of my life.
Peter’s initial trust was quickly replaced by fear and he began to sink. Yet, instead of turning back to the boat, Peter called out to Christ, who extended his saving hand. Conversion is no different: the initial fervor to follow Christ is assailed by doubt and longing to return to the way things were before. We are tempted to crawl back into the boat of our prior lives even if it is on the verge of sinking into the abyss. But Jesus extends his hand of love. He does not haul us in by the collar. He respects our freedom, waiting patiently for us to respond to his invitation. Such a simple thing to do—reach out and grasp the hand of the only one who can keep us from drowning.