My friend Rich Dixon is helping me out here, with posts that come just at the right time and just with the right challenge for me. Here’s the latest:
“Be strong and courageous!”
Don’t you love Christian platitudes? Global pandemic. Financial upheaval. Rent’s due. Lines at food banks stretch out of view. And someone tosses a quick platitude at us.
I’d love it more if someone would tell me how to be strong and courageous when I feel weak and afraid.
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My wise friend Dick Foth tells a story about the time in Matthew 14 when the disciples see Jesus walking on the water. It’s late. They’ve been rowing all night. They’re tired, and they think He’s a ghost.
Jesus says, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Dick says the middle sentence, “It is I,” is the Greek construction ego eimi. It’s the same phrase Jesus uses when He says, “I am,” as in “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the light …”
So we might hear Him making a stronger statement.
“Take courage. I am. Don’t be afraid.”
As the master storyteller, Dick somehow morphs into talking about a Jewish friend who grew up hearing three commands from his mother: “Grow up. Get a job. Marry a nice Jewish girl.”
The man said he heard that advice so often he thought they were a single word: GrowupgetajobmarryaniceJewishgirl.
And as he always does, Dick brings us back to Jesus and suggests we consider a new word:
Take courage: Face your fear
I Am: You are not alone; Jesus is squarely in the center of the situation.
Don’t be afraid: Acknowledge the fear, but don’t allow it to control you
Jesus doesn’t do simplistic platitudes. He says you and I can acknowledge and face our fear without being controlled by it, and we don’t have to do it by ourselves. We can lean on Him because HE IS right in the middle of the process.