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Jesus’ disciples were strange birds--volatile, unpredictable, yet sometimes faith-filled and passionate. As we learned this past weekend, they also spent a lot of time struggling with fear, despite Jesus’ constant reassurances to the contrary.
Fear is real, isn’t it? If you’ve ever been in a hospital with a serious illness, you’ve felt the feathery brush of fear on your brow. If you’ve ever been awakened at night by a strange sound, you’ve heard fear’s husky whisper. If you’ve ever narrowly escaped an automobile accident, you’ve experienced the cold breath of fear on the back of your neck. It can strangle our joy, shatter our peace, yet cackle with glee in the process.
Read the gospels carefully and you’ll discover that the disciples were fearful right up until the end. On the night Jesus was arrested they all ran away. Even Peter, the “Rock,” swore with an oath that he didn’t know Jesus. Only John, along with Jesus’ mother, came to the crucifixion; the others were hiding out in a house somewhere in Jerusalem. Despite all the teaching, sermons, and miracles, in the end, they all bolted in fear.
What changed them? The answer is Easter… the resurrection… they saw Him alive! That was the ultimate game-changer for them, and it still is! Paul said, And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith 1 Cor. 15:14,(NIV). Folks, we don’t serve a dead man; we serve the living Christ! John later wrote, We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life! 1 John 1:1 (NLT).
From this point on, they were changed men. “If He can conquer the grave,” they figured, “then He can handle every storm we’ll ever face again.” You know something? That’s true. And when you really believe that, it changes everything.
What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him! - Matthew 8:27 (NIV)
It would’ve been great to have been in the boat that night with Jesus and His disciples, to witness the instant and total silence of a storm bowing to His command to just “shut up now!” Their response shouldn’t surprise us; they were totally awestruck by His power.
Ever hear of Arthur Blank? He likes to fly fish the Yellowstone River in Montana. He owns a little hamburger and ice cream joint there, called The Pop Stand. In the 80s it was a Tastee Freez, now it’s The Pop Stand. Arthur recently retired from another business too; it’s called Home Depot. Yep, he’s the co-founder of the company. But if you ever visit The Pop Stand, you might see Arthur and his wife there. When they’re back at their Montana ranch, she sometimes serves as a waitress, while Arthur enjoys sitting in a corner reading the Wall Street Journal.
The story is told that one day when Arthur was in the cafe, someone came in and struck up a conversation.
“How long have you lived here?”
“Oh, just a few years.”
“What do you do?
“I’m in business.”
“What kind of business?
“The home improvement business.”
“Great! What company?”
“Really? What do you do there?”
“I’m an owner.”
“Wow, do you own the store over the hill in Bosman?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Great! How long have you owned that store?”
“Look, I own the whole thing. I started the company.”
Remember the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover?” I suspect we sometimes do that with Jesus. But then He comes along and does something incredibly amazing, and all we can think to do is “hush” and fall on our knees and say, “My Lord and my God!” You know something? We don’t do that often enough.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” - Matthew 8:25 (NIV)
Several years ago I saw a documentary on a nature channel about a bear cub whose mother died. A giant Kodiak daddy bear comes along and adopts the cub and they do life together. The daddy bear teaches the cub how to survive--how to grub for insects, catch fish in a stream, scratch his back on the rough bark of a tree… and the cub gets healthier and stronger. But one day they get separated and the little cub encounters a mountain lion ready to pounce. It appears he’s doomed.
But at the moment of crisis, the bear cub does what he believes his daddy would do in a similar situation. He rears back on his hind legs and puts his front paws in the air and lets out a roar (which is actually little more than a squeak)! Then the camera pans to the lion, who suddenly looks terrified, slinks backward, turns and runs away.
The camera pans back to the bear cub… then beyond him… and we see what the bear cub was unaware of. His father is behind him, standing on his hind legs, feet up and claws out. Then he lets out a roar as if to say, “Stay away from this cub!” Now we understand what the cub didn’t… he was never alone. His father was nearby.
Sometimes life feels like a mountain lion ready to pounce, and the fear is overwhelming. We try to be brave, but it’s hard… and then God shows up, and we suddenly realize… it’s gonna be alright. Our Father hasn’t abandoned us, ever, and that changes everything.
Friend, I’ve got some good news for you about the storms of life:
He’s in the boat
He’s in control
He’s preparing to act
I can’t think of any story in the Bible that says it so clearly. Will you believe it?
I’ve wrestled with various kinds of fear most of my life. Along the way, I’ve tried lots of different coping strategies--Scripture memorization, positive self-talk, mindfulness, etc. I’ve known seasons of panic and seasons of serenity, and everything in-between. Here are four fear busters that have worked best.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. - Psalms 42:1 (NIV)
Last weekend Scott talked about living life with Jesus. I’ve discovered I don’t do that very well without passion. Do you?
What are you passionate about? Sports? Money? Exercise? Music? Politics? Family? A hobby? My guess is we all have at least one, quick answer. I wonder how many people would reply, “God.” Isn’t it interesting how easily we can leave Him off our passions list? I confess, I do that more than I care to admit. There are a number of reasons:
You know what I’ve learned about passion? It’s an essential ingredient for great relationships. In fact, we’ll never feel connected to someone we’re not passionate about. Without passion, there’s no desire to spend time together, or to know and be known. If you’ve ever been in love, you understand. Here are two words of advice about passion:
Do you love God? Does it show in your emotions? When’s the last time you asked God to help you with your passion for Him? Try it! Start today. It’s a prayer He always wants to answer. Here’s a book for starters: Surrender to Love, by David G. Benner.Share Tweet