Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Do Not Be Afraid

Matthew 14: 22-36
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
"It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Peter said to him in reply,
"Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come."
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
"Truly, you are the Son of God."

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.

It's interesting that this takes place during the "fourth watch of the night". This is the time of day just before dawn and is usually the darkest time of the night. I believe this is something I should ponder... Dawn comes only after the darkest hours. Christ is calling out to us to take courage in this hour of darkness and to not be afraid because He is with us. But, with this is an underlying promise that the morning will come and the darkness will fade away!

Another part of this reading that struck me was Peter and how faithful he had to have been initially to get out of that boat. And I see myself when he suddenly realizes how strong the wind is and begins to sink. How often in my own life do I doubt God? How often to I begin to follow his will and then decide it's too difficult, become afraid or think I know a better way?

"Why did you doubt?"

Can you imagine what Peter must have been thinking when Jesus asked him this? He had just walked on WATER and Christ was right there before him. He had just seen Jesus feed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. If it was difficult for him to have faith in this moment, how much more difficult might it be for those of us who have not witnessed such things with our own eyes? Our doubts are part of the human condition, but Christ is asking us, "Why do you doubt?" I realize that I must start trusting Jesus more no matter where He is leading me. What do I have to fear in following Him? Will he not keep me from sinking?

In the darkest hours, our faith is most difficult... but hope comes in knowing that the sun will rise and Christ is always present, urging us to take courage.

Lord, help me learn to trust in you. Do not allow me to doubt you in the darkest hours of my life. Remind me that you are with me always and let nothing keep me from following you. Amen.

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