Take Courage!

In Matthew 14:24-31 we find a rather precarious situation involving the disciples.

Jesus had the gang head out in a boat to cross the sea, while He got alone to spend time with the Father praying and refreshing Himself.

Night falls and about 800 feet away, out on the water, His motley crew was struggling to steer a boat being beaten mercilessly by the waves. Jesus heads out to meet them but in a rather unconventional way.

The disciples' stress hormone levels are already high due to fighting the waves to keep the boat afloat and heading in the right direction, so Jesus’ eerie arrival did little to help the situation!

Verse 26 says they were frightened, troubled. I bet! It’s not every day you see a man walking on water in the dead of the night. This disturbed already disturbed minds.

The men were in great trepidation or what we would call anticipatory anxiety. They were fearful of what would happen and, since it is in the passive voice, it was happening to them. That is key.

Most of us do not choose to be anxious, nor do we want to be. We yearn for peace and stability which feels so much better. Our bodies and minds long to be at rest. But life seems to bring its fair share of things to be fearful and anxious about!

Our God-designed bodies are hardwired to turn on the stress response system in times of duress to get us out of danger. And once on, it is not easy to turn off. It requires either the danger to pass or our perspective of it to change.

When Jesus approaches, notice He doesn’t calm the sea, so the danger has not passed for them. They would need a new perspective.

In light of what they were encountering it is completely understandable that they were fearful. The disciples start shouting loudly and it went on for a while! These guys lost their minds. And it’s not like they had anywhere they could go, as they were trapped in their situation.

Jesus immediately and without hesitation, speaks.

When the disciples spoke, it came from the fear center of the brain (amygdala). The Greek word used means “to speak at random and is in complete contrast to the intellect part of man, his reason” (prefrontal cortex).

When Jesus speaks, the word denotes He is speaking from a place of reason and understanding.

We are ever-growing in our trust of God and He can bring us out of fear and into understanding. It doesn’t show a lack of faith when we are fearful, it shows an imperfect faith. This side of Heaven we will not reach perfection. But, one day we will see in full.

Jesus speaks, “Take courage; do not be afraid.”

This is both a command and an invitation!

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. It entails the strength to face the things we are afraid to face. It is not the absence of fear so much as it is the presence of confidence.

Jesus is more than capable of handling and dispelling our doubts! The issue arises when we put our confidence in something other than God and do not come to the source of our support to find strength.

My proclivity in challenges is to do the opposite… first I exhaust all of my means and then turn to God. Oh, come on, certainly, I’m not the only one!

Jesus didn’t command them to figure out a way to solve their predicament. He didn’t tell them to speak to the storm, or to row harder, or to put their life jackets on, or even to have faith.

He told them to have courage! Courage for what?

To do the impossible!

Jesus was demonstrating the impossible! He deliberately chose to walk on water to meet them, when there was probably a boat lying around He could have used.

Peter “answers” Jesus. Answers?

Ummm… do you see a question asked? I don’t.

Peter heard Jesus’ command to have courage and knew Jesus was asking a question… will you believe? And will you act on that belief?

Jesus’ command to have courage was an open invitation for Peter to get out of the boat and walk on water. Peter answered the call to do the impossible.

When faith is a given, then courage is the next step.

Has Jesus spoken to you? Do you have faith? Then step out in courage. Face what you are afraid to face, knowing all things are possible with God!

We are called to take His hand, receive His power, and act. We may be able to pull off the possible from our own resources but we will never be able to do the impossible. And that, my friends, is what God is calling and enabling us to do, the impossible!

For all of Peter’s well-known faults we have got to give him credit for the “can do” attitude he displays at this moment.

If it were me in that boat and I had just realized it was Jesus, a sense of relief would have come with ready anticipation of calmer waters. I would have asked Him to hop on in, stop the waves, and let’s move forward.

Often, my cry in facing fearful challenges is, “Let’s be done with this!”

NOT, “Hey, let’s make this even more interesting.”

When we limit God in what He can accomplish in the midst of whatever precarious circumstances we find ourselves swamped by, we don't get to see the impossible take place. God works miracles in situations we deem unworkable!

Had Peter rejected the invitation to experience the power of God to do an impossible thing, he would have never been able to proclaim that he was the only other person in history to walk on water.

If God gave you the opportunity to walk on water would you get out of the boat and take it?

Truth is, He is always telling us, "Take courage." An invitation to step out on faith, face our fears, trust in an almighty God, and see the impossible take place!

His call to courage brings with it the equipping to do whatever is needed. God can and will empower us with the guidance and strength needed to do what appears impossible.

Take courage my friends. Your impossible is His possible!

Hear and act on His invitation!

~ Heather

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Who made heaven and earth,

The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever.

Psalm 146:6