Monday, April 28, 2008

Took me a little longer than it took Paul Harvey

(Why are you so afraid? Part 2)

I know he only made us wait until the end of the sales pitch to tell the rest of his story, but at least I'm not trying to sell you a Bose radio...(FYI for the younger crowd: old guy, storyteller, radio man...never mind...I bet he's not on iTunes.)

I almost titled the posting from Mark 4:35-41 "Two Stories. One Theme." But that would have been a little premature. A couple of days later, it's now "Four Stories. One Theme." I know that this is only the tip of the iceberg and many more women are a lot like me and a lot like our disciples...afraid.

Afraid of what is.
Afraid of what will be.
Afraid that what is will always be.
Afraid that what was will be again.

That's the four stories I heard in the last four days. Doesn't it seem like we just jump from one to another and back again? But the lesson in our story isn't the one that I usually see. I usually just think: They shouldn't have been afraid. They should have just trusted Jesus. I think that though that's close, it's not quite it. It's not enough to say to the disciples and to each other: Fear not. But if not fear, then what? It's actually easy to see how we all get so confused. Do you know what the most repeated command in the Bible is? Good guess! Yep, it's "fear not." But notice these verses:
Deuteronomy 6:13: It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
Ecclesiastes 8:12: Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.

1 Peter 2:17: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
The truth about the disciples fear is that it wasn't wrong. It was just misplaced. We're commanded to fear. Fear was given to help us in our lives here and in our worship of God. The disciples certainly should have feared. But not the storm...not for their lives...they forgot to fear the Lord. How like them I am. The wind blows. My life begins to sink and I cry out. Not only is that not a sin, it is the very definition of faith. I hope in God. I trust Him. I know that He is more powerful than the storm. I know my God is able. He is Sovereign Lord. And I know that because of the blood of my Savior, my God is willing to help me because I trust in Him alone. So, of course, I cry out to my God, my Savior and call for help.

But when He doesn't make the wind stop? What's my temptation? It's then I turn against Him. I doubt not that He can, but that He is good...that He is doing me good...that He knows what's best. I doubt His character. So, what now? What do we do when like the disciples we cry out to Him: Don't you even care??

The Bible tells us to look again at the cross. The cross is the mark of His love for us. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were not good people who needed a little help. We were enemies of God. We were children of disobedience who followed the prince of the power of the air. We were dead in our sins and trespasses. And while we were cursing God, belittling His name, scorning His path...He gave up the treasure of heaven for us. Jesus died for us, to reconcile us to God and to open up heaven to us that we might be with God.

The cross proves the worth of God's glory and the depth of our sin and is the greatest act of a loving, caring, compassionate God who delights to bring His children good things. But when we want what we want more than we want God, we fear the wrong things. Isaiah 8:13 tells us: But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

And when He is then He is not only LORD God Almighty, but Sovereign Lord over all my life. What He deems for the day is good for the day. What He withholds is a marvelous grace. That which I thought was so valuable is now seen for the cheap trinket it is compared to the treasure of knowing Christ and being found in Him. (Phil. 3:8-9) My life is not my own to worry over (Matt. 6:25-27), but a gracious opportunity to serve Him and show Him off to the world, whether by life or by death. (Phil. 1:19-23)

My fear is rightly placed. My mind is rightly ordered. My emotions settle. My body glorifies the Lord. May it be today for us all.

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