Take Heart

Journal Entry // January 23, 2021

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Matthew 14:27 ESV

It is fascinating to see how refined the Word of God is as it recounts the life of faith in the writers God used to bring his revelation to his people. Every person presented in the Bible is relatable. They are relatable because they reflect our own weaknesses and sinfulness. The Bible does not try to hide the failings of the people presented. They have both their positive and negative characteristics and decisions on display for us all to see.

And what do I see? I see people falling into sin, making poor life decisions, doubting the goodness of God, losing heart, trusting their flesh, and being double minded. Basically, I see me.

This passage is a good representation in that it shows how quickly we can move from being amazed by grace to being controlled by fear. The disciples are on the boat waiting for Jesus. But become afraid and terrified when they think Jesus is a ghost walking on water. They had just witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 but in this short span of time they lost the wonder and awe of God’s provision. They gave in so quickly to fear.

I do the same each and every day. I see the hand of God moving my life each and every day. There are times when God comes so very near to me, that it terrifies me. Instead of basking in the nearness of Jesus, I become afraid and ashamed. The closeness of Christ will inevitably cast light on the sin in my heart. The sin that I didn’t realize was still active. The sin that I had tucked away in my heart and hidden deeply implanted and secured for access when needed.

The nearness of Christ reveals not only this hidden sin, but the hooks it has still implanted. Like barbs stuck in the flesh of my heart. The skin around these barbs are tender and infected. So moving the barb causes pain, so it’s easier to just leave it alone. Festering and growing more infected. The nearness of Christ is shedding light on the problem and calling me to take the pain and remove the barb. But I fear. Even after seeing the great work of God in my life. Even after seeing the Lord’s provision in my daily life. I still fear.

My heart and my flesh may fail… But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… Repentance is not just a once and done event. It’s not a quick and simple act that makes gray clouds disappear. No, those gray clouds are still here in my life. They hang over me and follow me. They want to keep reminding me of my failure of my weakness of my hypocrisy. But the good news is that Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart. He knows the gray clouds are still there. He knows that the trial is there throughout the journey. He is ready to pull me close when I call. Just like Peter sinking in the water, just like Job realizing his own self-righteousness, just like David understanding the depth of his sin – I too want to call out to Jesus for rescue. I need to call out each and every day. Not just in the aftermath of the moment or days following, but at all times. To live and breathe this calling out. To delight in the Lord. To truly find my delight in the Lord alone.

I have been contemplating a lot over the last months as to what I would title the story I want to tell. It has actually been difficult to find a short phrase that encapsulates what I have been learning and continue to learn about faith and this journey. But a couple nights ago it became a clear and simple message: Cultivate Delight. I am still thinking it through and trying to understand how it all fits together, but I like this a lot. I still have the impression that I need to write a blog or a book or something. I am very nervous to actually move it forward. It seems like a lot of work without a lot of reward. But maybe that’s the point. It’s not the perceived reward, but for my faith and relationship with Christ. Maybe this is what I need in order to see Christ more clearly and better understand my heart. I seem to be waiting on a clear sign from God, but I have no idea what that sign looks like. Maybe I already know the answer and I’m just afraid like the disciples in the boat. Maybe I need to just ask Jesus to call me out onto the sea with him.

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