Trust the Water

Hans Kung, a leading 20th century theologian, writes in his 2009 book What I Believe:

In the act of saying “Yes”, venturing fundamental trust, risking trust in life:  in that way and only in that way I can go on living my life. . . .And the unbounded joy which I experienced was similar to the joy I experienced as a child while swimming, when for the first time I had the experience that the water really supported bodies, even mine, that I entrusted myself to the water, that all alone–without support or any aids–I could trust myself to the water.” (chpt. 1)

Peter saw how Jesus trusted the water on the Sea of Galilee.

“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, “It’s a ghost”, they said and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”  

“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?”  Mt. 14:25-31

This same story appears in Mark, without Peter’s request; the richness of Matthew is that it gives us permission to go beyond our comfort zone, even if we fail.


“Trust the Water” by Elaine Knudtson

I stand on the edge of the shore between now and then,

Letting the water tickle my toes, but I’m afraid to go farther.

I trust the land.  I can control my exit:

  • I know the resting places
  • the curves in the well worn paths
  • the dark valleys to avoid
  • the hidden off ramps

It’s comfortable, safe, predictable.

But I’ve come to this place and there’s no turning back.

The water is inviting.  They say its cool, refreshing, peaceful.

It’s the reward for leaving the land and coming to the end of the lenten journey.

But can I trust it?

  • Its deep, dark, unknown
  • There are docks and buoys to mark the safe places, but I want to go beyond the ropes into the vastness of the reefs where the colorful fish swim across the coral.
  • I know there is a beauty and adventure for those who dare.  But I’m new at this, and I’m afraid.

I look behind me and know the road has been closed.  It only goes one way,  and I can stay here on the shore until I’m ready, but the day is waning and I see others beckoning me to join them.

They are my friends, my family, my mentors, who assure me the water is fine.

It is the water of experience, faith, community, “koionania”, “logos”, the “word made flesh”; and it is good, it is “tove meode.”

And so I leave the shore; reach my arms to the heavens and fall into the water. so that when you come to the shore, I will be able to call to you,

“Come and join me.  You can trust the water.”



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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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