Fear – the one thing that we fear most, the one portal that allows the enemy to come in as an invited guest, the one emotion that none of us really want to experience. We find that it cripples us from taking the right actions and it robs us of our trust and reliance on God. So we embrace courage and faith, embracing God’s Word and accepting Him in truth and love finding our confidence to act on it with a firm hope in the promises made by Him. God’s love gives us the strength to do so and empowers us to act with both justice and kindness towards our neighbour even if doing so means personal opposition or even harm.
The one fear illustration that captures me at my best is when Jesus is asleep in the boat in the midst of a storm. Most of us want this experience that Max Lucado captures so well —
Wouldn’t you hope for a more chipper second sentence, a happier consequence of obedience? “Jesus got into a boat. His followers went with him and… suddenly…a great rainbow arched in the sky, a flock of doves hovered in happy formation, a sea of glass mirrored their mast…” Don’t Christ-followers enjoy a calendar full of Caribbean cruises? No. This story sends the not-so-subtle and not-too-popular reminder: getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds. “In this world you will [not ‘might,’ ‘may‘ or ‘could’] have tribulation” (Jn. 16:33 brackets mine).
I love the fact that these disciples were the ones who took the first step in following Jesus. The boat was filled with men of faith – they left their occupations, families and turned to being followers of Jesus in the most literal sense. Yet there was one external circumstance that caused them to react in fear – a moment when they placed death as having dominion. Jesus and they were as good as dead and they were without help or hope in the world.
Storms are the reality and they come when they come. There will be blue skies but there will also be dark clouds. They both should be reminders that our trust needs to be on God. Setting our hopes on an illusion that we can be in control of everything one day, is just that, an illusion. We will always have enough to keep us on our knees. There will never be a day when we do not need to trust God who loves us so much.
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27