Take Courage, It is I. Don’t be Afraid!

The opportunity for a fresh start is always slightly unlikely in January when its cold outside and we are full of viruses and bugs, and can’t face going back to work. I always think it’s  daft time to start a new regime, but the papers and magazines will next week be full of ways to lose weight, give up smoking and plan a new life. In church today we were looking at how to avoid distractions when walking in faith which is certainly very difficult for me.. (what was that again?!)

The basics of life coaching and anything in life you want to get done I think is, set a target, work backwards to what needs to happen today, and then write a list. Thinking what the target is is often quite hard and most of us therefore don’t bother at all. Small steps, small challenges are much easier than major revamps or U turns. Even if you are planning a U turn, you have to start the journey and move in that general direction to get started. 

One of the things I asked for for Christmas was a book called “You have to get out of the boat to be able to walk on the water”, and am planning to buy myself in the sales, as my family clearly don’t think it was a wise idea to buy for me!

Today in church there was a picture of Peter on one of our windows being held by Jesus as he’d stepped out in faith and actually walked on the water. As christians you might think we are more confident to step out of our comfort zones, but in reality we often think more of Jesus as a cuddly kind person who likes children and animals, and less of him as an outdoor pursuits leader, asking us to climb mountains and scale new heights!

The passage below describes the story in the Bible, and the main verse that stands out to me here is “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid”.

Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

The work of Christmas

At this time of year it’s so easy to get bogged down in the trimmings and preparations and trying to make everything special the whole time, whilst simultaneously socialising and finishing off work in the run-up to the holidays. Usually I get ill about now, and this year has been no exception! Christmas itself can be a let-down, this year I have managed a complete blinder, as I ordered some presents for family and ticked the wrong address box online, and sent them to the wrong person. This person has kindly offered to send them back to me, even though they would have quite liked to keep them, and I now feel horrendously awkward, and wish I’d never spent the money in the first place! If I was a true Christian I wouldn’t have let them know my mistake and they would have thought they’d won a competition, and I woudl have found something else to give the rest of my family. But I didn’t. 

I took the kids to see Father Christmas in a local church that does a fantastic “narnia” and was chatting to a guy in the queue as his kids were helping me control my 2 as we waited for an hour! His question was, why if this is a church, is there a special fast-track lounge next door that we are not allowed in, that if we paid £2 more, we would be able to see Father Christmas quicker? Surely that’s not very Christian! I couldn’t disagree, as our kids got more and more frustrated, I wondered why I’d bothered taking them, when they already have too many presents and frankly are probably not that bothered about Santa anyway!

Christmas can feel like a “fast-track” for those with money, as most of us struggle to pay the bills any time of year the pressure to “up-scale” everything because it’s christmas is overwhelming, and lots of people will be paying for Christmas well into next year. This is not what we are supposed to be thinking about right now!!

We need to listen to the quiet in the night, and think about angels and stars and babies, not this endless to do list! I thought this poem helped me think like that again…….

 

When the song of the angels has faded,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and magi have returnedhome,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks,

Then the work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To make music in the heart,

To be peacemakers,

And finally,

to bring Christ to all

 

(Howard Thurman, contact@ploughbooks.co.uk)