Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

6 Fear or Faith – Part 1

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Mark 4:35-41

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

It’s here in Mark 4 that we see the disciples facing fear and the faithfulness of God in the midst of fear. It’s also here that we discover several things about God’s plan, first:

  • His plan can be perplexing

Jesus had spent the whole day preaching and because of the crowds of people he had to use a boat as a pulpit. As evening came he directed his disciples to not only join Him, but to journey with Him to the other side of the lake. It’s here that we see Jesus inviting us to join Him, to get into the boat and go to the other side. So why don’t we respond to God’s invitation to get into the boat, often it’s because we are afraid. We are afraid of the unknown; we want to know the whole plan before we pursue God’s invitation. But Jesus didn’t reveal the whole plan, just part of the plan, the question is are we going to step into the boat based on faith and pursue His plan or stay because of fear? While the Sea of Galilee is talked about over 50 times in the Gospels and is the setting for many of Jesus miraculous stories, there seems to be little focus given to “the other side.” This is because the other side of the lake was where the Gentiles lived, it was a place that the Jewish people avoided at all cost. Jesus plan involved the pagan people living on the other side, which would have been very perplexing to His disciples. The “other side” may be unsettling and uncertain but we’re called to follow Jesus’ even when His plan doesn’t seem to make sense to us. Just as Jesus called His first followers to go with Him to the other side, so too each us must go where He goes. This is not a suggestion but a command of Christ, in Matthew 8:18 it says: “…He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.” What about you do you obey even when the plan is puzzling, or do you spend your time arguing with the Almighty? It’s here that we see a powerful spiritual principle, disciples don’t delay, verse 36: “Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him.” They took Jesus “just as He was,” they didn’t make any preparations or gather any provisions they just set sail with the Savior. How eager are you to obey, are you pursuing God’s plan or procrastinating? Are you following in faith or are you going to falter and flee because of fear? Second:

  • His plan often includes problems.

The Sea of Galilee is really a lake yet it has many of the same characteristics of a sea, especially when it comes to sudden storms. Being the lowest fresh water lake in the world it is prone to problems, as cold wind whips down from snow-capped Mount Hermon and mixes with the warm lake air, resulting in raging thunderstorms with fierce gale-force winds. Because of the violent winds waves are known to reach 12 or more feet in height. It is here as the disciples are pursuing God’s plan that they encounter an explosive storm, Mark 4:37 “But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.” Notice that Jesus invited them to join Him in the boat knowing full well the explosive storm they would encounter. So why would Jesus invite them to launch out onto the lake knowing what they would face? Because our security is not in a storm free life it’s in having the Savior in our life. The truth is sometimes in order to get to the other side we need to go through the storm. So don’t believe the lie that just because you’re going through some stormy seas that you’re being disobedient and God is punishing you. Sure sometimes God sends the storms to get ahold of our attention, just like He did with Jonah when he was living in disobedience, but sometimes the storms surface because of our obedience. Why do we expect our journey with Jesus to be smooth sailing? Why do we expect obedience to be easy? This story doesn’t say that if we have Jesus in the boat with us, our lives won’t get rocked. It doesn’t mean that being in a relationship with Jesus is all roses, where belief brings a blue sky and singing birds. The picture that this story paints involves problems but it also involves the promise of His presence. Look Jesus doesn’t promise us perfect health, a successful career, or a life without cares. As believers we are still subject to the storms. The message here is not the pursuit of a problem free life but the presence of the Lord of life. When storms come, they are can be sudden, they come in a split second seemingly out of nowhere. All it takes is one phone call, a doctor visit, an accident, the loss of a job, or a relational rift. Not only are the storms sudden but they can be severe. Some of you right now are in the midst of the raging storms of life. For others it’s a family member or friend who is facing the fierce storm. May be it’s the howling winds of a health problem, or a marital problem, or an addiction issue, or even the final and sometimes most difficult storm of all, death. Storms can also be surprising and can catch us of guard, even though they shouldn’t, as 1 Peter 4:12 says: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” Whenever and whatever storms you face remember you are not alone in the boat, Jesus is right there with you. When we forget His presence we are prone to focus on the problems and its then that our peace falls to pieces. We start to question the Lord’s love, and are tempted to stop trusting. Instead of clinging to Christ we abandoning ship and try to swim on our own only to sink. Instead of a steadfast faith we end up with a shipwreck faith. Don’t let the problems pervert your perspective, and prevent you from resting in His presence. It’s easy to sail when the seas are calm, but Jesus didn’t call us to be fair weather fans, which are faithful as long as everything is favorable, no he called us to follow regardless of how fair or foul the weather was. We need to reject a faith that is filled with a formula which says, “If I am obedient and do this then God is obligated to do what I expect.” Look we will encounter junk in the journey but if we have Jesus we can still have joy. Sometimes His plans are perplexing, often they include problems but they always come with His presence. So what are you going to focus on, the storm or the Savior?

 

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