Have you ever stepped out of the boat – metaphorically speaking – simply because Jesus said, “Come!”
I heard a powerful teaching this week on Matthew 14:22-33. The pastor pointed out that Jesus always supplies all the power, the ability, the grace and the strength we need to accomplish whatever it is that He asks us to do. It’s inherent in the command.
So when He asks us to do something, we don’t have to wonder IF we will be able to do it. We know that we can. Even if that means walking on water.
Mulling it over, I found myself picturing my five year-old nephew Timmy – love of my life, apple of my eye! We love to do craft projects together. I used to be a teacher, so you can believe me when I say that Timmy is exceptionally handsome and amazingly talented and incredibly smart. He has a fabulous personality!
With one funny little quirk. Every time he’s faced with a new challenge or opportunity, Timmy responds with these two words: “I can’t.”
It’s so silly. He loves to learn. He loves to play. He loves to create. But before I even hand him the scissors or glue or paint, he declares he can’t do whatever I’m about to ask him to do. He hasn’t even tried. Most of the time he doesn’t even know what it is. Doesn’t matter.
It’s like an automatic reflex.
I’m not really sure what’s at the root of it. It could be a lack of confidence. Insecurity. Fear of failure. (Boy, it starts early, doesn’t it?) He may have inherited some of Auntie’s perfectionism: “If I don’t think I can do it perfectly the first time, I don’t want to try.” Or some of Daddy’s … um…overall outlook on life. (There’s a reason we used to call my brother Eeyore.) Sometimes it’s laziness. “That looks like work! I don’t feel like making the effort…”
But regardless, my response is always the same: “Yes, you can… see!”
Because there are three things to know about every project I put in front of Timmy:
1. I chose it specifically for him. I prepared it ahead of time. I had a plan and a purpose in mind. I knew before I brought it to him that he was fully capable of accomplishing the task OR (being a teacher) I knew that he needed to learn the skill involved and that this is the way to learn it.
2. I have already equipped him – I’ve prepared him through other projects we’ve worked on together. And I’ve provided him with all of the supplies and tools he needs. Because I want him to succeed.
3. I’m not going anywhere. I will be right there beside him, ready to help – every step of the way.
Most of the time, after one or two “I can’t”s, Timmy joyfully discovers that he can – and we make memories, as well as messy craft projects together!
But occasionally the “I can’ts” persist. Stubborn and whiny or whimpering. Again, it may be fear or insecurity… it may be laziness or even disobedience.
That’s when I smile and say – lovingly, sweetly, firmly—in my best teacher voice:
“You CAN … and you WILL!”
And he does.
To bring it back to Peter and the boat, maybe Jesus has called you, as He’s called me, to step out in certain areas of our lives. Step out in obedience and faith.
Some of the things He’s calling me to do scare me! I find myself suddenly filled with fear, anxiety, insecurity, or doubt. Other things look like too much effort, too much work.
I start to lift my foot. I might even get over the side of the boat. But then I turn back.
“I can’t…. I can’t do this… Really… I can’t.”
But Jesus is reminding me that every task He’s called me to is one He’s chosen and prepared especially. He knows that I’m able – or need to be able. He’s equipped me with everything I need. And He’s right there with me, ready to help me every step of the way.
Just like I am with Timmy.
On days like today – when I feel myself shrinking back, when I hear myself saying “I can’t” – it’s as if Jesus is gently tipping my chin up, making me look Him right in eye, as He answers lovingly, firmly:
“Yes, you CAN. And you WILL!”
Sometimes it helps to remember how far we’ve come… some of the amazing, “impossible” things God has already done in us and through us. So what’s something that you’ve accomplished — by God’s grace — that you never thought you could do?