Thursday, May 17, 2012

In the Same Boat

“And after He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And suddenly, behold, there arose a violent storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered up by the waves; but He was sleeping.  And they went and awakened Him, saying, Lord, rescue and preserve us! We are perishing!  And He said to them, Why are you timid and afraid, O you of little faith? Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great and wonderful calm (a perfect peaceableness).  And the men were stunned with bewildered wonder and marveled, saying, What kind of Man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!”  Matthew 8:23-27
I think we can all imagine the storm itself:  The waves crashing, the water coming into the boat, the boat being pushed all over the place by the wind and the waves.  But there are a couple of things that a harder to imagine.

One, how anybody could sleep through that, and two, was there a way that the disciples could have come to Jesus and asked for His help, that would not have constituted a lack of faith?

A problem for me is that in the painting, the boat is so small that I can't imagine a place where anyone could even lie down, much less sleep, even on a calm sea...hmmm.  But that's probably beside the point.

Anyway, let's picture this:  We're on a small commuter plane that holds about 13 or 14 people, counting the pilot.  We're flying with Jesus up to Dallas or Oklahoma City.  As soon as we get on the plane, Jesus picks a seat, and goes straight to sleep.  Meanwhile, we hit turbulence.  Not just a bump now or then, but the roller-coaster kind where things start falling out of the overhead bins.  And we begin to worry that the structure of the plane won't be able to handle the stress of the turbulence.  Do we wake Jesus up and ask Him to save us?  Or is it enough to know that Jesus, awake or asleep, is on the plane with us? 

Tough question.  Does having true faith mean we're never afraid of anything?  Oh, me of little faith! (That's not a typo!)

If faith is the opposite of fear, I have big problems!  Admittedly, I'm better than I used to be, but, wow...How do I get to the point that just knowing that Jesus is in the boat with me is enough to help me not be afraid? (Not a rhetorical question!)

At least I know I'm not alone.  God spends a lot of time telling us not to be afraid of one thing or another.
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deuteronomy 31:6
 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.“ 1 John 4:18
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:..”Revelation 1:17
So, don't say it out loud, but how many things in your life have your done out of fear?  If you're anything like me, a lot.  Or, how many things have you NOT done because you were afraid?  Yeah, me too.

So really, forget boats and airplanes and storms, I can't even be brave in my every day life!  Maybe it's just me, but when I think of all the times I've sat quietly by while people that I consider friends make jokes about religion and God, I feel pretty discouraged. What about the opportunities to share the truth that I know that I haven't taken because I was afraid of being made fun of or laughed at.  Jesus didn't worry about that kind of thing.  The disciples finally came to the place where peoples' opinions of them were not important. 

How do we get to the place where we can stand boldly for Jesus when our lives are threatened when we can't even do it now, when the worst that could happen is that someone might think we're silly.

Read what Mrs. White has to say:
“God is the 'Rock of our salvation,' a present help in every time of need. Then let us be no longer babes in Christ, but bold and firm soldiers of the cross, rejoicing in suffering the will of God.” Gospel Workers (1892), page 425.“Surely there is need now of bold, fearless Calebs, who, under the influence of the Spirit, will use the talents of hearing and speaking with heroic courage, disregarding all personal dangers and anxieties.”  Rolling Back the Reproach (1900), page 29.
Would it help if we could remember that Jesus is right there with us all the time.  He's waiting for us to reach out and take his hand just like a child taking a parent's hand.  When a child has his parent's hand, he's brave!  When we have Jesus' hand, we can be brave, too.

Let's reach out boldly and take Jesus' hand so that we can stand and tell  people t what He's done for us.
“What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]” Romans 8:31
And let's not forget, Jesus is right there, in the same boat with us!

Nichole Nordeman
The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
It's safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been
Cuz it's been fear
That ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love
That cuts the strings
So long, status quo
I think I've just let go
You make me wanna be brave
The way it always was
It's no longer good enough
You make me wanna be brave
Brave, brave
I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
Say Your name
Just Your name, and I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall
Why did I
Take this vow of compromise?
Why did I
Try to keep it all inside?
I've never known a fire that didn't begin with a flame
And every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if You believe in me
That changes everything

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