“There’s no way I can do that!” “You’ve gotta be crazy if you think I can do that!” “I’m never going to be able to do that!” Have you or someone you know said these words when faced with a seemingly insurmountable task? Have you felt like, no matter how hard you tried, it just wasn’t good enough? Have you felt incompetent? Well, if you have, there’s good news. Our competence doesn’t have to come from ourselves. In fact, it shouldn’t. 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NIV) reads, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” So, this timeless truth lets us know that our competence does, indeed, come from God. What a relief! God doesn’t expect us to do everything all on our own. He expects us to turn to Him in our weakness and receive strength. After all, God is our source of strength. We are not meant to do anything of lasting value apart from His enabling power at work within us. We are meant to depend upon Him. In a world of increasing independence, that may sound counter-intuitive, but, in reality, it is a safeguard for us. When we draw our power and our strength (and our competence) from God, there’s no way we can lose. As we continuously learn to live our lives this way, it won’t matter what the next seemingly insurmountable obstacle is in our path … we will be able to trust that, whatever it is, with God on our side giving us the enablement to persevere and do whatever it is He’s called or led us to do, we will be able to get through it. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, when we remember His faithfulness in helping us in the past, we can confidently trust that He will help us in the present with whatever we are facing today as well. It’s all the same concept. If we can trust Him for one thing, we can trust Him for everything. The situation and circumstances may be different, but God is the same – forever dependable, trustworthy, and true. He is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” With a promise like that, how can you lose?
Cities are beginning to open up … quarantines are beginning to be lifted … restrictions are beginning to ease up … and people are beginning to venture back out into the “real world” … and into what is being considered the “new normal”. You would think everyone would be super excited … you would think everyone would be saying, “it’s about time”! You would think the overall reaction of society as a whole would be a collective sigh of relief … you would think. However, for some people who deal with anxiety … or even just a resistance to change, it may not be so easy. It may be hard for them to adapt … hard for them to leave what had become their comfort zone during a time of upheaval. And, really, even for the people who don’t usually have a problem with just “going with the flow” and “winging it” … these people may still face challenges as well … just because things are different now. It’s almost as if the world went into a collective ark like Noah and his family did in the time of the flood (see Genesis 6-9) and now it’s time to get out of the boat … if we dare. Now it’s time to start exploring the whole “new world” around us … with fresh eyes and fresh insight that we may not have otherwise gained had we not been “stuck” inside. Now we have an opportunity … an opportunity to live our lives in a whole new way … in a way different than before; different, perhaps, than we’ve ever dared to live them … ever. Maybe during this whole pandemic you’ve realized that time is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Maybe you have been procrastinating … putting off ’till tomorrow what you’ve known in your heart for a long time needs to be done … now. Maybe the recent turn of events has left you with an urgency in your spirit that you shouldn’t wait any longer … now is the time to get out of your boat … now is the time to get out of your comfort zone … now is the time to go forward into the plans and purposes God has for your life. Maybe you agree with everything I’m saying … but you’re still scared; you’re still nervous … well, that’s okay … Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples was nervous too. Matthew 14 tells the story of how Peter had to choose to exercise faith when he was in a boat a considerable distance from land that was being hit by waves because the wind was against it. At that time, he saw Jesus walking on the water towards him and he and the other disciples were afraid. Matthew 14:27-31 (NIV) says, “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” So, here we see a timeless truth. When the Lord calls us to get out of our boat, we need to obey and we need to keep our eyes on Him. At the same time, since we are human, we can also take comfort in the fact that Jesus is merciful to us and will catch us if we start to waver in our faith. He never condemns us … He simply encourages us to exercise faith rather than listen to doubt. So, today, if you hear the Lord telling you it’s time to get out of your boat, take courage and boldly obey His instruction, trusting, as always, He knows best.