I’ve been feeling for a little while that it is time to start a new project devoted to encouragement. I’ve felt it. I’ve known it, but the problem was I was dealing with some discouragement and so I was feeling a little under-qualified. I’ve decided it’s time to put that aside and get to work. I have no idea what this will lead to. Will it be a book, or a video, a collection of podcasts, some art? I don’t know, but that’s kind of the thing we need to remember. We don’t usually have all the pieces and all the answers when we start a thing, we just have a calling and from there we need the courage to start. So here we go.

Even as I wrote the words “the courage to start” I could see the start of the road. I’m sure there is a wonderful definition for the word Encourage somewhere, and beyond a doubt, I will have to look it up and work through it as this project moves along, but let’s start simply. The last seven words of the word “encourage” are in fact “courage.” The most basic of definitions then for the word “encourage” is to give “courage.” It’s almost as if you take some of your courage and impart it to the person needing encouragement, and in fact that is precisely the case. There will come a time in every person’s life when they feel inadequate—as if they are not up to the challenge before them. You, as the encourager, come along and demonstrated your belief in them and, if everything goes according to plan, some of your courage, your belief, rubs off on them. They were lacking courage, but receiving some of yours they have the courage to move on.

In the Bible there is this epic scene. Jesus’ disciples have gone on ahead of him. Jesus has just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people with one little boy’s lunch. After this, Jesus dismissed the crowd and went off to pray. Experienced sailors that some of them were, the disciples sailed off without Him. In the middle of the night a storm kicked up such that these very experienced men were terrified and thought they were going to die. For all their experience, they suddenly found themselves in “over their heads” metaphorically and if something didn’t change they would also be in over their heads literally. As if they weren’t terrified enough, soon they saw what looked like a ghost walking across the water.

Of course we know, it wasn’t a ghost at all, it was Jesus walking on the water. Do you remember what he said? “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27 NIV) Do you see it? He was, quite literally, giving them some of His courage, encouraging them and we know that, for at least one of them, it worked. Seconds ago all the men were terrified but now something has changed. It’s as if they thought, “Oh it’s not a ghost, it’s just Jesus doing something impossible again.” But Peter goes a step further. He realizes that if it is possible for Jesus, and Jesus commands, He can do it too. It is for this reason Peter says “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)

Now Peter’s courage was short lived, but the encouragement caused Peter to at least attempt something that seemed for all the world as if it were beyond him. That’s the power of encouragement. I doubt anyone of you will ever call someone out to walk on the waves, but you may be used to call someone out of comfort and safety, into walking in God’s will.

Who needs some of your courage today?

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