Yesterday I watched a tractor pull for the first time in my life. All of the vehicles were antiques, many faded in the original glory of their colors – generally reds, greens and white- and some have been lovingly restored and repainted. One looked like all the bits had been assembled at the last minute, borrowed and transplanted from other tractors, and when it drove by one had a sense that it was literally held together with chicken wire. The competitors in this event were almost entirely men, although there were a few women in the bunch. There were several classes of tractors as they were all weighed ahead of time, and each competitor took their turn pulling the weighted vehicle they had hitched up until their tires lost traction and they could go no further. It was enchanting to watch the slow progress and the cheering crowds with some individual moments of glory.
The gospel for today reflects a time when Peter followed Jesus, until he lost traction and could go no further. Peter started sinking fast. He was trying to follow but his capacity got the best of him. Many people think Peter got scared and lost faith as he followed Jesus walking on the water. Often, this story is one of those that people consider a story of faith failed. For me, it is a story of what happens when we lose traction, when we get to the end of our capacity and start to sink. Jesus intercedes. He reaches out his hand and takes Peter in tow. When Peter can go no further, God takes his hand. This is a encouraging gospel moment for me. When I can do no more with the steam and power that I have, God intercedes on our behalf. My failure and limits are the invitation to God’s activity and completion. May we all take courage today, knowing that God will supply what we can’t. God only asks us to offer what we have.