Journal Entry // February 18, 2021
for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”Mark 6:50 ESV
As the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water in the middle of the night they became afraid. Really it was more than that. They were terrified because they thought he was a ghost. It’s interesting that they could all see him, but their conclusion about him was distorted. And this distortion led to a terrified fear. How often do I do the same thing with Christ. I see his hand moving in my life and become terrified when I lose control of a situation. Just like the disciples, I can recognize that Jesus is there, but surely it can’t be him. This Jesus is terrifying. This Jesus is leading me into places that are clearly unsafe and challenging. So I misinterpret who he is. I let fear overcome me. Not the healthy fear and trembling of awe and humility. But in the fear of being out of control and lack of understanding.
But Jesus says to take heart. Taking heart is to be encouraged and to bolster your confidence because of something. That something is Jesus himself. We are to take heart, because it is Jesus. The presence of Christ should encourage us. It should bring confidence and comfort. When I take my eyes off Jesus, I misinterpret the reality of who he is and then fear will overwhelm me. A fear of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The storm that rages around me threatens to sink my little boat. And though I struggle and toil to keep it afloat, I am always worried that it won’t be enough. But Jesus is there with me in the storm. Walking in the midst of the storm. This can be terrifying. It’s terrifying because I can easily convince myself that Jesus is the storm. That all the trouble and heartache and pain and suffering is at his hand. That I see him there in the storm and my mind convinces me that it is a terrifying thing to have him there.
But Jesus tells me to take heart in the midst of the storm. That my laboring against the wind and the sea are not fruitless. My labor is necessary in the storm. That he is there with me in the storm. So be encouraged. Be comforted. Have confidence in the presence of Christ. He may let the storm rage around us or he may bring calm. But I am to take heart because it is Jesus.
How do I take heart? It’s far too easy to convince myself I can think myself rightly, but I am convinced that I am unable to do that alone in my weakness. To know the right answer and then remind myself at the moments of weakness and need. No, I think the better answer is intentional consistent meditation on God’s word that reflects on my heart in Spirit and truth. Reading God’s word and thinking about what it really means deep within me. Focusing not on what I can do to be better or to improve or to be more godly. But to focus on my current status and give an honest review of my heart. Just speaking truth in humility to myself and the Lord.
There is a tremendous freedom in speaking truth to the Lord and myself. Admitting the failure and sin and really exploring the darkness of my heart. Seeking to understand what it is that my heart was wanting and the depth of what my heart is crying out for. Understanding that sin will not just magically disappear. Sure, the Lord could take it away at any moment, but understanding that just like the disciples in the boat I need to struggle and toil in the storm. I need to learn to take heart not only when times are more at ease, but when storms roll in and threaten to undo me. I need to see Jesus in the storm with me and take heart that he is there. There is no point in this life where Jesus is not with me. The Spirit dwells within me. Christ abides in my heart. I can take heart, because I’m never ever alone. Jesus is there with me. Whether it is an external storm of circumstances of an internal storm of scaling the depths of my heart, I have Jesus and he has me. I can draw close to him at any moment and find acceptance, comfort, encouragement, and strength. It truly is amazing that my delight can be in the Lord himself. That my heart can beat in rhythm with Christ.