Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect (Romans 12:2).
So this morning I’ve been thinking about the idea of “God with us.” I was actually wrestling, a little, with the personal nature of my relationship with God. I had headed out for my walk with Scout, and – as is often my practice – I took a look at the Bible verse attached to the Upper Room daily devotional.
Jesus immediately said to [his disciples]: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – Matthew 14:27
I don’t know why, but right away my mind pulled up the picture of our granddaughter, Beks, taken by Naomi earlier this week. Well, maybe I do know why. The image could represent holding back, hiding behind the counter… or it could equally – especially with the Phillies hat – be a more menacing, “Here comes trouble!” pose.
More than either of those, it represents that moment we consider the meaning of the “take courage” admonition. Because it could go either way, and we find ourselves considering the words of Jesus, the promise, and then looking out into the world and making the call: “Do I follow Jesus in this situation, or not?”
It’s really the answer to my – constant – question about the personal nature of my relationship with God. How does that clear acknowledgement of the fact of God trickle down into the day-to-day world where I live?
Well, the answer is often found in the way I peer out from behind the counter, Phillies hat and menacing expression ready to go. It’s as if Jesus is reaching out his hand to me, much like he did to Peter on the water, inviting the real-time relationship.
If I step out, if I move into this life as a conscious, intentional, “take courage” disciple, then there is no doubt that Jesus is with me. But if I remain a spectator, wanting complete assurance before I make my first move, then I will never have taken his hand in mine, I will never have stepped out in faith… and I will always wonder….
My grandchildren don’t always make me think theologically – but God does use them a lot to get my attention.
So I’ll wrap today’s post with a contrasting picture of Beks. She’s in the car, heading into some adventure, completely confident because she has such a solid foundation of love and trust in her home. Again, much as we are when we fully engage our calling to live as disciples, when we rest in the confidence of God’s great love. There really is nothing to fear when we step out and take God’s hand. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – Matthew 14:27
In love, and – hopefully – with courage – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.