Prepare to Listen. Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 14:22-27
22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
After feeding the five thousand, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and cross the Sea of Galilee while he dismissed the crowd. “When evening came,” he went up the mountain by himself to pray. Meanwhile his disciples were far from land, battered by waves with the wind against them. They were in danger, but Jesus was absent, beyond reach, until “early in the morning” when he walked towards them on the water.
All night they battled a storm alone while Jesus remained up the mountain praying. Did they think he’d deserted them? Had they given up getting any help from him? Since a stormy sea is a biblical symbol of evil and chaos, did these frightened men even believe he had power to help? It’s possible they didn’t and were terrified when they saw a ghost-like Jesus walking towards them. Why did Jesus leave them alone on a stormy sea all night? Why was he absent when they needed him the most?
Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience. A figurative stormy sea and Jesus seemed absent, leaving you alone to battle the ‘storm,’ and figure it on your own. I’ve been there, enduring the trial longer than I’d like. It’s not punishment, but a necessary albeit very hard experience. We wait and then Jesus unexpectedly comes with words of comfort: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Sometimes Jesus seems distant, even absent. How have you weathered storms like that?
Respond in Prayer
Lord, when my way becomes stormy keep me alert to your surprising comings so that I hear your comforting words: Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. Amen.
Live Obediently. Take heart.
 Mt. 14:13-21.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.