Ahh. The beach. There is no where else like it. We recently had a vacation at Cocoa Beach, FL. It was my 2 year old's first time at the ocean. We assumed he'd love it because he loves the pool. He surprised us by being scared of the ocean.
"It's coming, mommy!" He kept yelling at the waves as they crashed, one by one, into the shore and into him.
He was afraid to go into the ocean alone. But if my husband or I picked him up and brought him out, he was happy. He became content to jump the waves and play with us and his siblings, as long as we had a hold of him.
Yes, if you'd ask Max, he'd rather just play in the sand...a safe distance from the ocean's waves.
My friend, what do we miss out on because we choose to stay in the sand? Jesus is calling. After all Jesus said, "I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit" (John 15:16a). He is talking to all believers, not just preachers or missionaries or teachers or doctors. The apostle Paul seconds Jesus' words. "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God" (Ephesians 4:1).
God is calling you deeper, out into the ocean. You have been called.
A scene from the book of Matthew jumps out at me as I write this. In chapter 14 the disciples find themselves out on a stormy sea. Verse 24 tells us a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting large waves. It was in the middle of the night. Needless to say, the disciples were terrified. To make matters worse, they thought they saw a ghost walking toward them on the water!
It was no ghost. It was Jesus, walking on the water. He said, "Don't be afraid. Take courage. I am here!" (Matthew 14:27).
After they realized it was Jesus, Peter became courageous and bold. He wanted to walk on the water to Jesus. Jesus said, "Yes, come" (v. 29).
So Peter came out of the boat and walked on the water. Picture it in your mind. Try to imagine what this scene looked like. Peter edged one foot over the side of the boat and then the other. Meanwhile, the waves continued to swell and the wind blew. He kept his eyes on Jesus and started walking toward Him. Then I think he got a little nervous. He started looking around and noticed the waves and the wind. Maybe he looked back at the others still in the boat. Either way, when he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink.
Of course Jesus saved him. And when Jesus got into the boat with Peter, the storm stopped.
I have always loved that story. The idea of walking on water, of defying the laws of nature, is fascinating. But as an adult, I'm touched by what Jesus said.
He said, "Don't be afraid. Take courage. I am here!"
These are great words to cling to. We are called to go deeper with God. We are called to embark on a mission, whatever that may be for each one of us. The truth is, when God calls it is scary. If we didn't feel apprehensive about stepping out for God, why would we need Him at all?
God knows we need Him. He says to each one of us the same words Jesus spoke to the disciples.
Don't be afraid - It is human nature to worry, to feel out of control when faced with stress or challenges. God says over and over again in the Bible, "Don't be afraid." We, like Peter, look at our chaotic, scary surroundings and we're afraid. What gives us any reason to actually stop being afraid? It's in the fact that God is always with us.
Take courage - There comes a moment in every calling when we must take the first step. God calls us, but it is our choice to come to Him. We have to get out of the boat. God's presence and perfect plan are the only things that can give true courage.
I am here - This is the most important phrase we can hear. God is always with us. He will never leave us, for His Spirit lives within us. And like in the story with Peter, He catches us when we sink.
So, if Peter heard those words, why did he sink? Jesus tells him had had little faith (v. 31). Peter had begun to doubt Jesus.
It seems so silly of Peter. We read that story and think, "Silly, Peter! You were with Jesus! Why were you afraid?" But it's no different for us. We are with God. He personally goes with us everywhere we go.
It's like my son. He did not want to take that step into the ocean alone. But when he knew his dad was carrying him, he was ready to go out. And when he did, it was worth it.
We go with God wherever we go. He calls us, and He meets us. When He calls, we never go alone. There is something amazing, something better than we could dream, out there in the waves with God. It's like walking on water.
So no matter what you're facing, remember Jesus' words. "Don't be afraid. Take courage. I am here!"
The other night, as I was tucking my oldest son into bed, he asked me a very serious question. He is the type that is often silent but inside his brain, the wheels are turning. So when he wanted to ask me something, I knew he had been thinking about it long and hard.
He asked, "When you get to Heaven, will you send me a message and tell me that God is real?"
I was surprised when he asked me this, because I know he believes in God and has Jesus in his heart. But the honesty behind the question is what struck me more than the sweet, little boy innocence. He was simply voicing the question we all have either asked or thought at some point in our lives: is God real?
Wouldn't it be nice if we could just receive a little text or tweet from God? Well, He did better than that. Think of the Bible as one, large, epic text.
The fact is that God is closer to us than we are usually aware. In Acts 17, Paul explains that "He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist" (verses 27b-28a).
God gives each human their existence, and He sustains all things. He is nearer than our next breath. I love to think about that. Breathing is something most of us don't really think about. We even keep breathing when we're asleep. God is that close to us. And when we acknowledge His omnipresence, we experience His closeness. "Come close to God, and God will come close to you" (James 4:8).
So we know in our hearts that God is near to us, but do we believe it in our minds? Do we comprehend that, yes, God is real, and yes, He is with me? This head-heart connection is what my son was struggling with that night. I answered his doubts the best I could, with scripture.
Remember doubting Thomas? He had heard that Jesus was resurrected, but he said he would not believe it until he saw Jesus and touched His wounds. When Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was resurrected, Thomas confessed his belief. But Jesus had an excellent response.
"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me."
Thomas believed because he saw Jesus with his own eyes. But you and I, and our children, are in the second category. And Jesus says we are blessed when we believe. Jesus knew it would be hard for us to believe, but He rewards our faith. He blesses us with many gifts and with the peace and presence of His Spirit.
Stronger faith comes from using it. When we believe in the tough times, our faith is strengthened. I told my son that night that he would know for sure, by the time I died, that God was real. I told him he would have his own "God experiences" to bolster his strength.
Faith is like muscle. If you want it to grow, you need to exercise it. And like exercise, good results, like blessings, will follow. You may not even need to break a sweat.
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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