Friday, April 25, 2008

Why are you so afraid?

I'm training the high schoolers for Backyard Bible Clubs. Last Sunday we went over our third day's story from Mark 4:35-41. It's a familiar story to many of us. Jesus has been teaching the crowds all day by a lake. Evening comes. He tells them to get into the boat. They're going to the other side. Jesus promptly falls asleep. Then the wind begins to blow...and blow...and blow. Like West Texas hard. Like blowing sand so hard it strips off the paint from your car. Seriously. What does wind like that do when you're on the sea? The Bible says that the waves were so high that they were breaking into the boat. The boat was already beginning to sink.

So, where's Jesus? Sleeping. The disciples wake him up, crying out, "
Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" Can't you see what's happening here, Jesus? Don't you see how bad it is? We're sinking! No words yet for them from Jesus. He just stands up. Looks out at the storm and says, "Peace! Be still!" And since creation always obeys its creator, it goes immediately quiet. No wind. Calm waters. And then Jesus turns to the disciples and says the words we all say with Him to those poor disciples..."Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"

I wonder if, like me, you usually read these stories about the disciples and shake your head at them. They just never seem to get it, right? We would've been different. Our faith would not have been shaken on that boat, right? I mean what's a little wind and water. You've got Jesus.

But then it hit me as I was teaching the teens. On that boat were not seminary guys and accountants. Several of them were fishermen. They knew how to handle a boat. They'd been in storms. Who would know better when to panic than Peter, James and John? I usually just picture them afraid for no reason. But that's not what happened. They were afraid because they knew.

I was privileged to take a trip to Nigeria to visit my dearest friend, the sister of my heart. On that trip there were several times that I kept thinking: I should be afraid, right? But I'd look up at the guy who lived there, her husband, who was leading us. And he wasn't afraid. Seemed pretty bad to me and to others in my group. But I kept my eyes on the one who would know. If he's fine, I'm fine. That's these guys. They were the ones to know. Not a Galilean carpenter. These guys really knew they were about to die in that boat. And where's Jesus? Asleep. Doing nothing to help.

I've been there. A situation comes up in my life that I've walked through before. It hits my "area of expertise". Maybe it's an illness in the girls. A financial problem. Trouble in Wayne's job or with Cassie's school. Maybe it's worse. Adultery. Betrayal. Abuse. Neglect. Whatever the trial of the day, I look around me and I think to myself: I've been here before. I know how bad this is. It's time, Jesus. Time to do something. Time to fix this. This is as bad as we can take it. If you don't do something now, we're going under. The response I hear: Silence. Nothing changes. Maybe Jesus is asleep again. Doing nothing to help.

It's right then that the disciples and I sound a lot alike because my thought echoes theirs. Don't you even care that I'm perishing? Aren't you good? Don't you love me? Because I know what love looks like. And it's not this. I know what it means to do good to my children and I would never let them suffer like this. Don't you care?

So, what's our help in those times? What do we need? What turns our hearts back to God when He's silent in our pain? Think about it with me...I'll get back to you soon with what I see.

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