March 19, 2020

Courage Is Not The Absence of Fear – 21 Days of Peace Day 9

“Then Peter called to Him, ‘Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.’ ‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.”  Matthew 14:28-29 (NLT)

What an invitation!  Peter sees Jesus walking on the water in the midst of a violent storm that is threatening the lives of the disciples on board the boat and he says, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You …”  Jesus replies, “Yes, come!”  Imagine the scene!  I’m really hoping there will be video replay of these stories.  Wouldn’t you love to see it?  All the disciples are terrified by the storm and, even more, by the weird phenomenon of seeing what looked like Jesus walking to them on the water!  Most of them thought it was a ghost!  It was about three o’clock in the morning when all this was going down. Yet, Peter’s curiosity gets the best of him. “Is that you, Lord?  If it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  Wow!  That’s courage isn’t it? 

Peter shows us how to overcome our fears by moving forward in faith even when we feel afraid! Jesus had been with the disciples before in a storm.  That time He was asleep in the boat and they woke Him up with a really dumb question, “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” On that occasion, Jesus rebuked the waves and the storm went away.  This time, He sends His disciples into a storm without Him. On this occasion He remained behind as the disciples cast off from shore in obedience to His direction while He went up to the hills to pray alone.  Knowing the disciples were in trouble, Jesus came to them in the midst of their storm walking on the water! You never really know how God may show up!  Yet He is always with us, and Jesus was stretching their faith to trust in Him when He would no longer physically be with them. 

Jesus always comes to us in the storms of life. Here’s a promise to claim when you encounter a storm. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isa. 43:2, NASB). One of my favorite authors, Warren Wiersbe, gives this insight into the passage; “Jesus may not come at the time we think He should come, because He knows when we need Him the most. He waited until the ship was as far from land as possible, so that all human hope was gone. He was testing the disciples’ faith, and this meant removing every human prop. Why did Jesus walk on the water? To show His disciples that the very thing they feared (the sea) was only a staircase for Him to come to them. Often, we fear the difficult experiences of life (such as surgery or bereavement), only to discover that these experiences bring Jesus Christ closer to us.”

Storms are frightening, but we don’t have to be paralyzed with fear.  Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is moving forward in faith even when you feel afraid.  Peter had faith to step into the storm!  When he was filled with fear, he moved forward in faith trusting his future to the God who invited him to come.  You’ll never step out of the boat if you are waiting for your fears to go away or if you’re waiting for perfect conditions.  Don’t let fear dictate your actions.  Faith is stepping out of the boat of security into the storm.  It’s thinking outside the boat!  Faith takes us where we’ve never gone before!  It begins with one step.  Peter didn’t let his assumptions keep him in the boat.  All the other disciples assumed it would be foolish to step out of the boat.  Peter’s faith wasn’t presumptuous because he heard Jesus say, “Yes, Peter, come!”  Is God calling you to a new level of trust that frightens you!  Great!  You are on the verge of experiencing a miracle!  Follow His call despite the impossibilities around you.  Take a step of faith in the direction He’s calling you and see what God can do!