My favorite song these days is You Make me Brave by Amanda Cook. It’s one of those songs that makes we wish I could sing. It refers to Peter’s experience walking on water:
“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (Matt 14:28-29)
Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and at that moment, he had the courage to step out of the boat and try walking on the water, too.
Encounters with Jesus make us brave. They make us stalwart and bold. They give us convictions to stand and do things we would have never done without Him. Time with God gives us a more divine perspective and reminds us that the greatest good is to please Him, not man. I am, by nature, a people-pleaser. But moments with God ground me and give me a stability and security to step out in ways I never could without Him.
Courage is a fruit of being in His presence; the more time we spend with Him, the more bold we’ll become. He gave Corrie Ten Boom the courage to hide Jews and Quakers the courage to aid escaped slaves.
So much of our Christian walk requires courage, both in big ways and small. It takes courage to share our faith with those who think Christianity is intolerant and irrelevant. It takes courage to stand firm in our convictions when others think we’re crazy or deluded.
If you’re single, it takes courage to break up with boyfriends you know are the wrong ones, not knowing if the right one will ever surface. It takes courage to keep doing the right thing, trusting that the reward is out there, though it’s nowhere in sight.
As a parent, it takes courage to homeschool, or private school or public school, when your friends are doing the opposite. It takes courage to medicate or not medicate that hyperactivity or to be more or less strict than the parents around you.
It took courage to take my son out of a special education class and put him in a regular, general education class, simply because God told us to. We saw an ability in him others didn’t see and we took him out despite the wary warnings of teachers and specialists. And now, a year later, those same specialists admit that they were wrong and we were right and they marvel at how much our little guy is thriving. I don’t feel smug about this, just grateful that God made me brave.
It takes courage to swim upstream. Sometimes our acts of courage are only for us, but often our bravery paves the way for others to follow. We’re pioneering, and pioneering can be exhausting.
When you pioneer, you’re the first, the only and you can either cringe and cower at that reality or stand tall and lean on God who’s right there with you. You have no precedent to refer to, no predecessor to mentor you. Your only teacher is the Holy Spirit Himself.
You’re the only woman in your office, the only single adult in your family, the only Christian at your gym, the only person of color in your church or Bible study. God has placed you in that position because He has a assignment for you to carry out with confidence, and grace and humility. You can either shrink back in fear and refuse the call, or you can take a step and see what God does.
Peter was a pioneer. He was the only one of the disciples to get out of the boat. He got fearful and started to sink, but for a moment, he defied gravity and that indelibly marked his soul. It changed him. He came out of that experience with less fear and more wonder. He went to bed that night more equipped to be the world-changing apostle he was called to be.
So often, throughout both testaments, God tells his people to take courage, or to be strong and of good courage. He knows that swimming upstream is scary and He promises to be right there with us, swimming along side.