Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Take Courage

Matthew 14:27

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

About 20 years ago (wow that's 2 decades, sounds ancient) I took a day trip with my family and friends to the NJ shore. It was a beautiful day; beach is packed with sun-worshipers and the weather is perfect!

I am not a swimmer or a sun-sponge, but this day I wanted to get my feet wet and enjoy some sun-rays; maybe go up to my waist in the ocean water. Cool and refreshing; the water was glistening and inviting me to partake, so I did.

My husband and son are enjoying the waves; they are over their heads in water and having a blast! There had to be hundreds of people in the water. Every section marked off with a lifeguard; his job is to protect the swimmers, the ones enjoying the cool refreshing waters.

It's going pretty well on the beach; I am pretty brave; in the water I go; the water has now reached my waist and for me this is a risk; wow, I feel like I can conquer just about anything. The waves are coming in from behind me; they are pretty strong but I find the courage to even turn around and face them; I jump through them; I imagine myself a victor, I have defeated this accumulation of droplets; this massive body of saline water that we know as the Atlantic Ocean. Yeah, I feel good!

In my assumed mastery of this element I completely forget it's power; it's great command that it has over me. A wave came in quickly and shook my foundation; a second wave landed and my footing was threaten and as the third round came, I found myself in a dark tunnel unable to find light.

The wave tossed me as if I were a leaf without any branches or root to hold me secure. As each wave came I began to gasp for air, I tried to locate a visual of where I was because all orientation was lost. I was unable to push myself off from the sand at the bottom of this ocean floor because my arthritic hands were to weak.

This episode happened several times and all of a sudden I felt the hand of the rescuer, non other than my Night in Shining Armor....I mean, my husband in a bathing trunk! He swooped me up and though I still could not orient myself, he quickly led me to the shore, shaken but safe. My plan of escape came from within the troubled waters.

This is my question; where was the lifeguard? Did he not see what was going on; did he think I was playing with the waves or looking for new gill-bearing aquatic friends.
I was drowning and he did not help me!
My rescue came from the one that was actually in the "troubled" waters with me.

Peter, very bravely entered the water when Jesus called him. Soon he found himself being consumed by the waves, by the tossing water, perhaps by his own fears of the unknown; what if Jesus doesn't help me; what if he is unable to help me?

Jesus is more than enough not only to help Peter but to order every step that this frightened disciple will take. The Lord will lead him and equip him to do impossible feats. He will deny the Lord; maybe even wonder if he was worth saving; but God will use him, fill him with his power and build His Kingdom, using little frightened Peter.

It's a terrible place of vulnerability, when help seems far away, when rescue does not come from who you expect; when life feels like its going to evade you. Trust me, I know!

Jesus' hand was extended and he is also able to rescue!

Just like my rescue came from within my own troubled waters, I believe Jesus who is always with us sends help when he hears us cry out to him. Even when others fail. He stands in the midst of trouble with me; puts his hand out for me and beckons me to come, to trust and to grab a hold of Him.

He is in the midst of the trouble with us. Sometimes we cause the trouble, other times the trouble tries to rob us of Salvation or life itself; sometimes the trouble makes room for God to get Glory.

When trouble surrounds us we search for help. Look carefully and you will see Him everywhere in the Scriptures. He is the Rescuer! He is right in the midst of our lives!
  • The thief on the cross. Take courage Jesus says, "today you will be with me in paradise".  Christ is on the cross with the thief; in like situation.

  • The Israelites facing the Red Sea; threaten to be annihilated. Deliverance will come from God; Moses raise your staff.

  • Daniel in the Lion's den. Lion's mouth shut by an angel God sent.

  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.

  • Isaac rescued as the knife was about to fall. A ram in the bush provided by God.

  • Joseph in the Pit. What the enemy meant for harm, God used for good.

  • Liz in the drowning waters. Rescued as the Lord directed her husband to see what the lifeguard missed.

Look carefully and you will begin to recognize him in the midst of your troubles.

God, rescues, makes provision, gives wisdom & revelation, he sets free, he shields & protects, he calls and sets apart, he beckons us to come and trust him; he is with us and will never leave us.

In the midst of my troubled waters, where death tried to cut me off from the living; as the lifeguard missed his queue; the Lord stepped him, allowed my husband to reach me and bring me to safety.

For a long time I would have nightmares, I was pretty shaken. Over time I have begun to enjoy the waters again, embracing it with a different respect, assured that God has given even the waters for my enjoyment!

Even in the midst of troubles, if we search, God will reveal where he is. Take courage! He is right there with us.

I wonder if every time Peter went fishing, when he stepped into the water; did he see Jesus' hand; did he recall the day his Master rescued him; the day fear tried to make sport of him?  Peter's rescuer lifted him up and assured him he was safe in his hand.

Hold on, He is right there!

God bless you!~Liz


 Acts 9:32-34 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas,...