A Gospel Glimpse:
In Mark 6, Jesus walks on water, appearing as a ghost to His disciples.
He calls out to them and says, "Take Courage.” I discovered this phrase isn't about doing anything external. It's all about being on the inside.
I looked up the original meaning of that phrase in HELPS word-studies (an amazing resource on the Bible Hub website). "Take courage" is tharseo in the Greek, and to sum up what it means:
Be bolstered, be emboldened, have a bold inner attitude
At one of my first writer's conferences, I had a friend tell me to "bold up". I was so focused on the doing, I hadn't prepared myself for the courage needed within. As an author, it's easy to get stuck on the doing...constantly tweaking and learning and polishing. And when it comes to presenting your work, there's a whole lot of fear involved. Even though you’ve done all the work, it’s the work that’s reflecting you. And if you are trembling on the inside, you surely can’t handle the scrutiny on the outside.
There was a time in my marriage when all the doing in the world couldn’t provoke me to bolster up courage. When my end game was dependent on someone else’s (my husband‘s salvation) how could I focus inward? My attitude couldn’t find boldness when my eyes were focused on my circumstance. Even if the circumstance was all about Jesus, like the disciples awaiting their leader, I had forgotten that He was with me, that all that was expected of me was to take courage, and not to fear. Pretty difficult to do when the outside was so...pressing.
Whether it be facing a publisher or a prodigal husband, it is easy to forget to “take courage”.
But, Jesus’s command to the disciples gives us a clue to a different way of processing the storms around us. He summons the disciples to “be emboldened within” because He is there.
“Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Mark 6:50
He doesn’t tell them to be confident in the boat or to master the waves. He tells them to search within themselves for the bold attitude that comes from knowing He is with them.
I think we are trained by the world, and by the Church at times, to focus on the doing. I know I was the “doing” author—trying to do enough to get noticed. I know I was the “doing” wife—trying to scheme and muster up the evidences and manipulations to win my husband back for God. The world tells us success comes from hard work. and, the Church tells us the good work is winning souls. Neither of those things are wrong. But it’s futile to depend on our actions to fulfill any of it. Jesus commands us to be emboldened within, to know He is with us, to not be afraid. Once I realized my greatest asset was the bold attitude within me because of Christ with me, I was able to face the chaos and find confidence in my circumstance.
And it wasn’t that I discovered more work to do, it’s that I witnessed God at work.
My inward spirit was strong, bold...enough so that I could focus on what truly mattered in the moment: Christ.
And He works all things for our good, doesn’t He? It’s His doing. Not mine.
Sometimes, we must act to do the work of Christ. But, unless we remember to take courage and to focus on Him, the storm will knock us down before we can accomplish anything. He's with you. Search within, and take courage, friend!