Peter heard the call of Jesus in the middle of a storm and "got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus" (Matthew 14:29). Peter knew the voice of his Lord and knew that if He called, He would also provide a way to follow. But Peter soon "saw the wind...and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matthew 14:30).
"Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' He said, 'why did you doubt?' And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God.'"
Jesus' words to Peter might seem a little harsh. After all, Peter had stepped onto the water while the other disciples remained in the boat. But Peter needed to be encouraged in what true faith could accomplish. He needed to clearly see that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), but only if he kept his eyes focused on Jesus. God had great plans for Peter - plans which would require great faith - so Jesus ministered to Peter's doubts and fears by meeting him on the water.
Jesus then climbed in the boat with the other disciples. Rather than chastising them for their lack of faith and telling them how they should have climbed out of the boat, Jesus simply allowed them to worship. These disciples had failed to understand who He was, and now they needed to just spend time loving and worshiping their Lord. Jesus ministered to the needs of these disciples by meeting them in the boat.
The Apostle Paul had a clear understanding of ministry opportunities:
"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). Paul never sinned in order to save the sinner, but he understood where a person was in their Spiritual journey and met them on their road to begin his ministry.
Every day God places people in our life who need encouragement and desperately need to be directed onto a path which will lead them closer to God. None of us know all the answers, and we certainly don't need to force everything we know into a single conversation, but we each are given an opportunity to minister - an opportunity which may only last a moment and may never truly return.
Let's look for the specific needs of those who cross our path and be prepared to encourage with the truth of God's Word. But as we speak the truth, whether on the water, in the boat or even back on the shore, let's minister as we meet them where they are.