Stay awake, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (CEB)
We are officially Back-to-School. This past Sunday, we took a moment to bless the backpacks of students preparing for their first day back. The excitement and nervousness was palpable in the room as we prayed a blessing over students and teachers. My own children were among those with backpacks and I can relate to the nervous tension felt by other parents in our community. We are sending our children into new situations hoping that they make new friends, feel accepted, are safe and secure…oh and of course learn something new each day! I felt all that nervous energy again as they got out of my car on the first day while praying that they would be brave and strong. Knowing that even the most challenging situations can be an opportunity to know the love of God deeper than we did before.
It made think of a song called, You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook. The second verse says this:
I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
The imagery reminds me of the great story in Exodus 14 when the Israelites stood on the shore between the sea and the army of Egypt that was pursuing them. We know the story, Moses lifted his hands and God parted the waters for the Israelites to safely walk across on dry land. Jewish commentary on the story called midrash imagines the details of how that could have happened. In the midrash, Moses lifted his hands and the Israelites walked to the waters edge, but the sea did not part immediately. Then a man named Nashon, walked out into the water up to his ankles, knees, waist, shoulders then neck singing the praises of God all the way. It was then that the waters parted. The story reminds us that God meets us in our courageous faith.
I believe you will find the God of grace when you take that step out beyond the shore. This courageous faith may be expressed in our children and parents as they go back to school. It could also be when you have a difficult conversation with a person that you love. This mixture of excitement and nervousness may be found when you say “yes” to God for the first time. So take that first step. I believe you too will find the grace of God out beyond the shore.
Rev. Chad McSwain