One of the most life-transforming disciplines I’ve ever benefitted from is reading my Bible daily. It brings me peace and hope when I need it, and it helps me to grasp just how deep and wide is God’s love for me. Truly, it’s beyond my limited scope and human comprehension, but Scripture provides details to illustrate the incredible magnitude. It’s a huge blessing to be included in this amazing love story, and it’s a huge draw to understand it more!
Because this is a daily practice, I often find myself re-reading Scriptures and passages I’ve read or studied before. Even though there might be familiarity, I’m always encouraged by the sense that the Lord is still engaging me; talking right to me and saying just the right words I need to hear at just this time. I’m also equally excited when something I’ve read multiple times prior takes on new meaning. Somehow, by God’s grace, I view the same words with fresh perspective that takes me deeper or adds new dimension to my relationship with Him. These are moments that can make me giggle out loud and smile from ear-to-ear knowing just how much the Lord enjoys delighting in us, who delight in Him. (Psalm 149:4)
Just the other day, I experienced the Lord’s sweetness when I was in the book of Matthew. I was reading Matthew 14:22-27, when Jesus walks on water toward the boat where His disciples are huddled and frightened due to the strong winds and heavy waves. I stopped at verse 27 and re-read it multiple times, as it just captured my heart.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
It’s first worth noting that this takes place immediately after His disciples worried about feeding the crowds that came to hear Jesus’ teachings. They were in a remote area without many provisions, and they suggested to Jesus that He send the crowds away to go purchase food, because they could see that the people were hungry. Instead, Jesus took only two fish and five loaves of bread and miraculously fed the crowd of five thousand until they were not only satisfied…but they had twelve baskets of leftovers! The disciples had helped to distribute the food, so they were well aware of the miracle that Jesus had just performed.
And now, as they clung to their boat, they did so with very recent knowledge of Jesus’ heavenly anointing, miraculous powers and heart to comfort and care for people. (But how quickly can we, as humans, forget…)
Yet, as Jesus walks toward them on the water, He so lovingly doesn’t hesitate to speak to them as they’re terrified of what they’re seeing and of drowning. No, He reassures them immediately – “at once.” He doesn’t want them to linger in fear, and He doesn’t even want to give space for the fear to grow. He speaks up to stop the fear and to provide blessed reassurance and comfort. He knows that as humans, they will aggrandize the fear the longer they engage with it, and He speaks up to put a halt to it.
I love how He doesn’t just stop at “Don’t be afraid,” like several angels that have appeared before Him had offered. No, He goes beyond a command, and He gives reason as to why His disciples can let go of their fear. He knows how afraid they are. He knows they can’t just stop their fear on their own, so He tells them, “I am here!” He’s encouraging them to partner with Him. He’s letting them know they can rely on Him. They can let go of fear with His power. They can do it through Him and with Him.
And…an even bigger truth…His disciples were never even out of His sight! He knew and saw everything, all along, and came to be with them. It wasn’t a coincidence that He was there!! He spoke up and walked to them, because He knew they were afraid. He came to comfort them. He sees and understands and comes to rescue. Oh, how He loves!!
Lastly, Jesus’ statement to His disciples goes far beyond telling them they can do things with His help. His quick shout-out to them is one of great hope. He doesn’t just say, “Don’t be afraid.” He doesn’t even stop at “I am here.” He reinforces it all with the bold statement that they can go FAR BEYOND not cowering in fear. Because He is there, His disciples can “Take courage.” He doesn’t say “HAVE courage,” but TAKE courage,” because He is bringing that possibility. He is offering a position of strength for the taking.
With Him, we can go from a place of meekness and weakness to a place of bravery and boldness.
In Him, there is the reason, power and ability to be courageous!! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; 2Timothy 1:7)
Wow….so much from just one verse!!! Isn’t it amazing how MUCH we can get from Scripture? How much the Lord has packed into His Word! How much love, assurance and hope there is for us! Oh, how much He must love us to leave us this GIFT, so we can know Him more and grow closer to Him!!
He is HERE, He is HERE! In every word of the Bible and in every heart that clings to Him. HE IS HERE! And we can take courage, indeed!!
What fear has you hiding inside the boat? He already knows. He’s already offering you the strength you need. Hear His voice and go to Him!
Remember, immediately after these verses, Peter walks to meet Jesus on the water. He miraculously approaches Jesus without land under his feet, and…well, he walks on water for as long as he believed, anyway. He began to sink only when his fear became bigger than his faith…
Where are you allowing fear to be bigger than faith? Don’t be afraid! Take Courage! He is here!