I just love this little phrase "Take Courage". It's active and brave and it comes to me whenever I am shrinking back. Take courage, rise up, reach out, grab it! Two of my favorite Bible verses (Psalm 27:14 and Psalm 31:24) carry this thought and I was on biblegateway looking them up the other day, when I found my call to action in a few more places. How exciting!
Jesus actually spoke these words to his disciples and the story is recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels so you know it must be important! Jesus had just finished feeding the 5,000 and then he tells the disciples to get in a boat and go ahead of him to the other side. He climbs the mountain to spend some time alone with the Father and then in the middle of the night he comes walking across the lake...walking on the water...Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water with Jesus, AMAZING....
As I was reading over it I noticed a few things.
It WAS Jesus that instructed the disciples to get in the boat and go across that night. Don't you think they remembered that when they were out there and the waves were kicking them around? What was Jesus thinking, surely he knew that there would be a wind advisory tonight and he sent us out here anyway! Hmph! In Mark's account it says that Jesus went out to them walking on the water and was about to pass them by! Can you imagine? They were straining at the oars, tossed around by the wind for hours and Jesus would have passed them by. What was he thinking? Didn't he see the waves? Didn't he feel the wind? I'm sure he did. But remember, Jesus had just come away from time with the Father. I think he was full, so at rest, trusting the Father completely and none of that phased him. He knew his life on earth, and his 12 followers were safe in the hands of the Father and the wind couldn't change that.
The disciples think he is a ghost and they are scared out of their minds. The Bible says that immediately he spoke to them....I love that little adverb Immediately, that is my kind of response time! It is precious to me that Jesus was quick to respond to their fear. He says to them "Take courage, it is I. Don't be afraid" There is great comfort in knowing that Jesus shows up right there in the middle of the wind and waves. We are never alone and he is mighty to save!
I read in Matthew Henry's Commentary that "it is I" could also be read "I AM he" Henry saw this as a reference to the name that God gave himself when he was speaking to Moses. Standing there on the lake, Jesus says to his exhausted, distressed disciples "I AM". The God who delivered the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt is here to deliver you! I can hear Jesus speaking this to us in whatever we are facing. Wind and waves, storms come at us but just as we are straining, struggling with our circumstances Jesus reminds us "I AM". The God who strengthened and healed his children in the desert is here to strengthen and heal you. The God who brought them out with joy and singing is here to bring you joy. The God who led them with fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day can lead you too! When we're wondering "How are we going to make it to the other side?" Jesus says I AM, the God who provided food from heaven, water from a rock and clothing and shoes that didn't wear out in forty years is here to provide for you. Mighty to deliver, mighty to heal, mighty to save!
An interesting thing happens when Jesus climbs into the boat, the wind dies down. I don't know what wind is blowing in your life or what waves are rocking your world. I know that just this week I told my husband "It felt like waves were crashing over me." Sometimes life just comes at us like that. When I feel that way I have to remind myself to Take Courage! I AM is with me, standing right beside me and he is not shaken by this storm!