I think it is pretty amazing that Peter got out of the boat. The wind was whipping up waves and the disciples were tossed about in darkness on the wild sea - when they saw a figure walking towards them out of the mist. I don't think that Peter or any of the disciples could have had a category for walking on water. This was not a miracle that Old Testament prophets ever accomplished. I am not aware of any ancient stories that have told of a person who could walk on water. The only way that the disciples could make sense of this was to call it a ghost.
But Peter got out of the boat. I don't know if he had to think about it or if he just reacted. But when Jesus called him to "come," he climbed over the side and walked towards Jesus -- on the water! Now, in a different story this may have been the end; Peter had not only watched Jesus do the unthinkable, but Peter had also walked on water himself. What courage and dedication. What an amazing experience. But apparently all Peter could think about was how frightening the waves were. He turned his eyes from Jesus and he began to sink.
If we were imagining the story, we might have told it differently. We might have told about the way in which Peter trusted Jesus and took a bold step over the side of the boat and walked into his destiny. But real life doesn't work that way. In real life, taking a bold step to follow Jesus doesn't mean that things suddenly get easy. Even after we step out of the boat, the wind and the waves don't immediately stop. Often we find that life is harder than we expected. It is a common mistake to believe that after we have responded to the call of Jesus, in some area of our lives, things will be easy. Perhaps we had to make significant sacrifices to respond to this call. It only makes sense (from our perspective) to think that the waves should die down when we walk on the water with Jesus.
This is certainly my experience in ministry. We quickly find that the people we care for and the situations into which we enter don't immediately grow calm. Parents sacrifice to have children only to find that children are hard. Church members sacrifice to start a new church plant only to find that church planting is like being on a stormy sea. People give up promising careers to serve the poor or do missions in a foreign land - only to find that the people they serve are seldom grateful for their presence and their ministry is full of suffering.
This is part of God's plan. It is here - outside the boat - that we learn to trust Jesus in whole new ways as we cry out with Peter, "Lord, save me!"
How has a life of following Jesus been harder than you have expected? -MK