I was unsure of what to call the message tonight. I vacillated between “Dancing in the Waves” or Sunday Morning Boxes” but I decided to call it “Take Heart.” I believe this is the message he has for us right now. We are facing unprecedented times, and difficulties like this push us into deeper waters. Sometimes we feel it’s over our head. Don’t worry, there’s good news! God doesn’t want to stay in our neat little Sunday morning boxes where we placed him. He comes to us, appearing within the winds and waves that violently toss us, and he says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
” Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way[b] from the land,[c] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”Matthew 14:22-27
God Is In Our Storms
Notice that the disciples were so terrified they actually thought that Jesus was a ghost. When fear takes hold of us, everything looks scary and it’s easy to miss him. Jesus didn’t condemn the disciples for their fear or lack of faith. He provided the sweet assurance of his presence within the storm and told them to take heart and don’t be afraid. God hasn’t changed, he does the same with us. The King of Kings knows our hearts, weaknesses, scars, and bruises and wants us to be healed and whole. When life is crazy, it’s time to look for him, for he’s often calling to us from within that terrifying storm.
26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”Matthew 14:26-27
Faith is Individual
I’ve always had trouble with the fact that Peter stepped out of the boat but he was the only one who got corrected. The disciples were scared and calmed by Jesus’ presence. Peter was at a different level of faith, and he was literally interacting with Jesus in the middle of a miracle. It may sound condemning in print, but I’m convinced Jesus wasn’t condemning Peter. God is not condemning us. If that was true, none of us would live. He has more grace than we can imagine. Maybe God’s plan was going to have Peter take the next step and speak to the storm and calm it, or dance on the waves. God sees knows our potential, and he wants to take us further than we ever imagined, it’s only when our faith is pushed that we can get there.
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.Matthew 14:28-31
Why Does God Take So Long?
How many times has it seemed that God waited until the last second to come through for you? Jesus didn’t perform the miracle until the “Fourth watch of the night.” That’s 3 a.m. they were in the boat a very long time. Jesus could have appeared in the vessel earlier or stopped the storm before it started, but he didn’t. When God comes seemingly at the last minute, he’s providing an opportunity for us to push our faith further. If we want to get physically fit or strong, we have to push ourselves to the limit and a little beyond. He takes that long because of his love for us and vision for our lives. When we come to the edge of our faith, that’s when it’s pushed a little further.
30 But when he saw the wind,[e] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.Matthew 14:30-32
The End Game
I believe that the end game for that boat in the raging sea experience culminated in verse 33, that they would see that he is indeed the Son of God. Not because Jesus was on an ego trip, but so they would know the truth, be empowered in their faith, and know where to stand on the fateful days ahead of them and to work the miracles in the future. Our lives are better in every way that we understand verse 33 as reality.
33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
God loves us too much to leave us where we are but allows circumstances to grow our faith. He is right there where we are terrified, our faith is trembling, and our hearts are faint. Jesus comes to us though we have trouble believing. He doesn’t let us drown or harm come to us to teach a lesson. The goal is to see that he is the son of God and know him in all situations and become vital for the future trials and glories that lay in store for us. Take heart, he is with us in our storms.