Jump. I’ll Catch You.
A few months ago, I tossed and turned in bed while my husband slept soundly next to me. My mind was racing a mile a minute as I contemplated the next day’s surgery; all I could hear over and over was a resounding recording of “what if.” What if tomorrow’s surgery is not just routine? What if something goes wrong? What if they find something they didn’t expect?
Later, I remembered a quote from a devotional I read this past summer about the very battle I was experiencing:
“Ruminating on the ‘what if’s’ is an unhealthy way of meditating that invites fear. When we do this, there’s no room left in our thought closets for truth. Most worry thoughts begin with the words what if.” (Excerpt taken from Jennifer Rothschild’s Me, Myself, and Lies, pg 24.)
How true that felt to me. I felt barraged with discouraging thought-arrows piercing fear into my soul.
“Jesus, help me hear truth,” I prayed, closing my eyes hoping to find relief through sleep. Instead, an image came to my mind of a little girl standing at the edge of a swimming pool. Her father stood in the water with his arms outstretched saying, “Come on, Sweetie. Jump. I’ll catch you.” With her eyes focused on her father instead of the risks, the little girl jumped. Fearlessly. Boldly. Because she knew her dad would catch her.
I sensed the Lord say to me, “Trust Me. Jump and I will catch you.”
That image brought to mind a Bible story I learned when I was young. According to Matthew 14, late one night Jesus told his disciples to pile into the fishing boat and head to the land on the other side of the water. He assured them He would eventually meet up with them. Early the next morning, Jesus approached the disciples walking on the water. When they saw Him coming toward them they fearfully cried, “It’s a ghost!” (The Message version described them as “scared out of their wits!”)
But Jesus’ responded, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (vs 27). Peter, one of the disciples, scrambled out of the boat onto the water to meet Jesus. “But when he saw the wind he was afraid and cried out as he began to sink, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him, responding, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” (vs 30, 31).
Like Peter, I can often take my eyes off my Heavenly Father and become overwhelmed by the howling wind of my circumstances. However, when I focus on Him I draw strength and receive comfort from recalling what happened to Peter: Jesus caught him. Surely, He will catch you and me as well when we face our fear-inducing moments.
As I reread that story, I listed in my journal Jesus’ important words: It is I; take courage; don’t be afraid. I realized while staring at the page how much power and wisdom these commands contained and I processed how I could apply them to my own life.
- “It is I.”
Sometimes when Jared gets home from work, I’m busily engrossed in a project and don’t hear him enter the house. I hear shuffling and footsteps, and my heart begins to pound fearing an unwelcome intruder. Then, I hear Jared’s voice announcing his arrival and I breathe a long sigh and allow my heart to settle.
I am confident that the relief I feel when I hear my husband’s familiar voice is only a fraction of the solace Peter experienced when Jesus called out to Him. Why? Because Peter knew, loved, and trusted Jesus, and so His presence brought Him calm.
The same is true for us. As we come to know and love God more deeply, we learn to trust Him and His heart toward us more completely. We can face our fear-inducing moments confidently because we know God is able to catch us.
Post-it notes containing Scripture hang on my bathroom mirror, my desk, and my kitchen cabinets because I need constant reminders of God’s character and love for me. Remembering His nature helps me trust Him more. The verses below are a few of my favorites:
Psalm 145:8-9, 13: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. The Lord is faithful to His promises and loving toward all He has made…”
- “Take courage.”
I recently listened to Beth Moore energetically discuss courage. She emphasized that we have to take the courage given to us, explaining that we aren’t “born brave, we become brave” as we face our fears. The literal definition of the verb “take” means “to hold, grasp, or grip.” Though I have never considered it before, it made sense to me that I must grasp the courage God gives me as if I were gripping a rope for a game of tug-of-war. Otherwise, I could allow my circumstances to yank my courage away from me.
Taking courage is a theme God has been teaching me ever since an emotional day in April when I turned to Joshua 1:9 for some God-directed truth:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I scribbled this on a note card and put it in my car as a constant reminder. (Have you noticed I like words strewn around me?) Regardless of the fear-inducing circumstances we face, we need to take courage and trust God confidently knowing that His heart toward us is good.
- “Don’t be afraid.”
In Max Lucado’s book Fearless he says, “[Jesus’] most common command emerges from the ‘fear not’ genre. The Gospels list some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of those, 21 urge us to ‘not be afraid’ or ‘not fear’…If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously” (pg 10).
There is so much that I want to say about this subject that I plan to dedicate an entire post to this soon. But I want to point out that when Jesus told the disciples, “don’t be afraid,” He didn’t say the circumstances weren’t frightening. However, in spite of their circumstances, He wanted them to be reassured by both His presence and His ability to take care of all of the events giving rise to their fears. What a good reminder for us when we stand at the brink of some of our fear-inducing moments throughout our lives.
As I was in the process of writing this post, a situation arose in my life that challenged the authenticity of everything I wrote above. After a few hours of feeling sorry for myself and allowing fear to tug on my confidence, the words “It is I. Take courage. Don’t be afraid.” infiltrated back into my mind. I drank them in again—even deeper this time—and once more they brought peace and calm to my troubled heart. I realized once again in my most frightening moments I could trust that God not only will catch me, but will hold my hand as He ushers me into deeper waters where I will learn to trust and rely on Him even more.
I share this with you because throughout our lives, just like Peter, we will perpetually face trials that may shift our eyes off Jesus and onto the overwhelming circumstances. If we do this, we will sink. But how grateful we can be that regardless of the depth or choppiness of the waters we face, Jesus will continually reach out His hand to catch us. No matter how many times we need it.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior.