[reprinted from November 5, 2010]
When he got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Behold, a violent storm came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he was asleep. They came to him, and woke him up, saying, â€œSave us, Lord! We are dying!â€ Â Â Â Matthew 8:23-25 (WEB)
I bet when the disciples followed Jesus in the boat they did not expect to be riding out a hurricane force wind in the Sea of Galilee. When I made the decision to follow Jesus, I did not expect to be riding through so many storms. I was looking for the rainbows and butterflies and harps propped on clouds. What really happened in my life was that the hurricanes came back to back to back. I had no absence of storms. I had the presence of an unequal-in-power LORD and Savior!
It doesnâ€™t read like Jesus just nodded off. Markâ€™s gospel says that Jesus was using a pillow. It seems that this was a planned nap. There are times in my life when I have wondered if God has gotten distracted, or fallen asleep, and doesnâ€™t know that I am desperate for His help! I do not hear Him. I do not see Him intervening and answering my need. Doesnâ€™t God care?! I do not doubt that God can handle any situation. I am questioning His character!
Fear does that. When I am afraid, I allow what I know to be undermined. If God permits storms after I get on board with Him, does He care what is happening to me? Fear lets loose the doubts! And then my need for control kicks in. â€œDo something, LORD?!â€ â€œFix this!â€ At the core of my fear is a loss of control. I think my life is spinning apart. I am so focused on the storm and the fear it has brought that I forget my history, my life so far, with God. The disciples in the boat forgot the healed lepers and the demons screaming over the cliff. I forgot how God took a woman with a crushed heart and made her whole. I forgot that in the darkest nights, God has been the guiding Light and strength to continue on the next day.
Fear is awful. It sucks me dry. I stop dreaming. What if the dreams are un-fulfilled? I am no longer willing to take a risk. I want the safety of a â€˜sure thingâ€™. In this case, a god who will become my â€˜over-Protectorâ€™. Fear robs me of love. Love is risky. Fear robs me of giving. Giving (serving) has no guarantee of a payback.
Jesus tells me many, many times not to be afraid. Must be important. Some commentaries, who had people willing to count, say that Jesus said not to be afraid or fear over 20 times. Instead, Jesus said to have courage; to have faith.
Jesus woke up and stood up. He didnâ€™t wave His arms or scream and shout. He reminded the disciples that it was all about faith in Him. Then He told the storm to Hush and the storm was silenced. Done. No fuss. No muss.
Are there storms in your life? With Jesus in your boat, the boat is not going to sink.
â€œI have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression [storms]; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.â€ Â Â John 16:33 (WEB, my addition)
Stand By Me written by Charles A Tindley and sung by Willie Nelson