In Matthew 14 we read the well-known story of Peter walking on water. Jesus had just miraculously fed 5,000+ and had retreated for a time of prayer alone. The disciples head out to sea without Jesus and along the way encounter a storm…
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.’
Peter has a burst of courage and whether it was covered with confidence that it was really Jesus, or if he thought he was being brave in challenging the ‘ghost,’ we do not know. But Jesus speaks and beckons him into the storm. And Peter steps out of the boat.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’
Someone asked me this week if I was a risk taker. I said yes, a little bit believing that it’s true and a lot a bit wanting it to be true. In my defense, I started thinking of some of my crazier moments – I went skydiving on my 18th birthday. I got a tattoo in a third world country. I ate a butterfly cocoon in China. I went cliff-jumping in the Mediterranean. Those are risks, aren’t they?
But the true thing is that daily, I let fear win. I let fear convince me that re-watching every episode of The Office for the twelfth time is more valuable than reading and writing. I let fear keep me from studying, memorizing Scripture, and dedicating significant time to prayer. I let fear put a hold on relationships, on freedom, and on my wildest dreams. I let fear speak lies to my weakened mind. I even believe them.
The very worst part is that I’m fully aware of the presence of fear in my life. And I’m finally identifying that as the problem. It’s not about whether there is or isn’t fear.
There will always be fear.
The real test in my discipline, my believing Jesus, and my faith in living a life of overcoming fear is not whether the fear exists. It’s whether or not I let it have a voice.
Fear isn’t going to dissipate like dew on morning grass. And I’m coming to believe that Jesus doesn’t always want it to.
He could have calmed the storm before calling Peter to walk on the waves. He could have climbed right in the boat and immediately set their hearts at ease. He could have met them on the other side, leaving them only to wonder how He got there. But He didn’t do any of those things. He came in the dark, in the storm, in the midst of their fear and He invited Peter deeper into it.
And I think it’s because He wanted Peter to do it afraid.
Look at how Jesus answers Peter’s fear with a question of faith:
Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’
Fear and doubt are a lot more closely tied than we would like to think, and the opposite of both is faith.
You don’t need to just get rid of the fear. You need the faith to do it afraid.
Faith to believe that God is who He says He is. Faith to believe that He will do the things He has promised to do. Faith to believe that He is stronger than the storms. Faith to believe that fear doesn’t have to win. Faith to believe that He’s a good, good Father and that His plans for you far exceed the plans that you have for yourself.
I’ve spent a lot of days ruled by fear and begging Jesus to take it away. I’ve prayed for the things I fear to slip out entirely “so that I could finally walk in faith.” I’ve waited for the storm to cease before stepping out of the boat, and I’ve decided that 2016 is going to have a different theme song.
My resolution this year isn’t to get fit, or stop drinking Dr. Pepper, or run a marathon. My resolution is to do it afraid. To stop letting fear have a louder voice than my faith. To stop believing my words don’t matter.
2016 is gonna be brave, ya’ll. And I’m gonna do it afraid.
What’s your thing?
When does fear have a louder voice than faith?
Will you join me this year in doing it afraid?