*Spoiler Alert for The Chosen*
What are your stories in the Bible?
You know, the ones that literally grab your soul and bring tears to your eyes. The ones that you feel could have been written just for you. The ones that remind you that you are not the only human in history who has ever felt the way you feel.
One of my stories has always been where Jesus and Simon Peter walk on the water. Yes, it’s a classic story and it’s an amazing miracle, but for me it’s always been about a lot more than that.
I battle anxiety. It takes on many forms and many expressions, but at the root of them all is conscious or subconscious fear. The irony in that (or God’s sense of humor, maybe:) is that so, so many of the things that I am most afraid of, are the very things that I feel God calling me to do.
That’s why I have always related so very deeply to Peter’s story. I know what it feels like to be terrified of doing what God is telling me to do. I know what it’s like to feel like I’m drowning in the feelings of panic and insecurity and weakness.
Last week I watched the season 3 finale of The Chosen.
From the moment I watched their very first Christmas special 3 years ago, I knew The Chosen was going to be totally different from any Bible show I had ever seen. The way that they work so hard to portray the humanity of all of the characters who we may sometimes view as being on a different spiritual level than we are is something that has touched me in a profoundly deep way. Through each subsequent season, I have felt more connected to those heroes from the Bible than I ever had before.
There have been so many moments where I saw a familiar story in a totally new light or with a whole new level of depth. Last week, watching the climax of the story with Simon Peter and Jesus, I felt like I could have been Simon Peter.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”Matthew 14:28-31
The whole scene gave me the chills and brought tears to my eyes.
The backstory that the writers of the show decided to make a part of this episode also touched me in a very deep way. I realize that The Chosen has gotten a lot of criticism for writing fictional backstories for the characters in the Gospels and I am also very well aware that the backstories are just that – fictional, but these stories are doing a lot of good. Both in that they are bringing a level of humanity to the Gospels that can sometimes be overlooked, and that they are prompting people to open their Bibles and discover the actual stories. I say this as a sort of disclaimer, because I don’t want anyone assuming that I think the backstories are actual Biblical fact. The really interesting part is that they could have been. The apostles were all real human beings just like us, and they had real human lives and struggles and pain just like us as well.
I could have been Simon Peter in that boat, screaming my pain at Jesus, desperate for His love and yet running from it at the same time.
One thing that kind of caught me off guard in the way they portrayed the scene was the tone of voice with which Simon Peter said “Lord, save me”. In my mind whenever I read the story, I have always imagined Simon Peter as shouting those words, but somehow the way they had him desperately yet quietly speak them hit me in a whole new way. In his despair, Simon was giving up, and his last cry was for his Lord to save him. A cry of desperation with barely any faith left that Jesus would actually save him.
But what happened? As Simon was sinking beneath the waves, Jesus reached out His hand and pulled him back up.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”Matthew 14:31
This line was one where they did portray it exactly the way I’ve always imagined. I have never thought that Jesus’ response to Simon was angry, but more like a gentle rebuke of a parent to a small child asking why they couldn’t just listen.
Watching Simon Peter sobbing in Jesus’ arms just totally wrecked me.
“Please don’t let me go, please don’t let me go, I’m sorry, don’t let me go…”
How many times have I prayed a similar prayer? So many more times than I care to admit. And while some of those times I have not felt like I was even being heard, there have been the times where I knew that I was. Where I didn’t necessarily hear Him respond, but I could feel a peace I hadn’t felt before.
Watching those scenes unfold, I realized once again that just because I may feel inadequate and afraid doesn’t mean that He is done with me. And He isn’t done with you either.
I don’t know what your battle is, but I do know that He is with you. Whatever it is in your life that feels just as terrifying as stepping out of a boat onto a raging sea, He is there. He will reach out to save you when you feel like you are sinking.
He will not let you go.
The walking on water scene starts at 1:03:42 and ends at 1:13:07