One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”
Jesus’ question cuts to the very heart of our being. We live in a predatory world full of sharks who circle us at all times. The world is full of “lions seeking whom they may devour.” Even if we aren’t threatened at any given moment, it’s easy to feel threatened because the shark tank has conditioned us and reinforced the ego’s predisposition to fear and anxiety. It’s chief goal is to protect us, so it’s on the lookout for any reason to go into red alert and send us into a panic. For some of us more than others, it’s very easy to feel threatened and live in the anxiety that comes with it.
We need safety and stability. We tend to pour our treasure into the people and things that provide it. Out on the lake, the disciples’ safety and security was in their boat. With the wind howling and waves crashing down on the boat, IT was threatened and the disciples felt threatened, in turn. They go into a panic and come to Jesus, who is asleep. “Lord! Are you completely ignorant of what’s going on here!?! We are going to die and you aren’t addressing the crisis!!”
Like the disciples, we think God is asleep, but God is here and being here shows solidarity. The disciples thought they were in trouble because Jesus was asleep, but their panic blocked from their awareness the fact that Jesus was present. In that presence, they were safe and so are we.
Also like the disciples, we are threatened by scary winds and crashing waves all the time; God doesn’t necessarily prevent storms from occurring or remove them from us. So, we think God’s asleep. Maybe we think God is only involved on the back end of circumstances and not the front end. Or, maybe we think it’s simply not God’s nature to intervene in human affairs at all. Or, maybe we wonder if God is even there. How could a loving God stand by and permit this stuff to happen?
All of this is packed up in a nice little suitcase, hidden in the disciples frantic questions and Jesus doesn’t answer them. Instead, he poses to them a haunting question: “Where is your faith?” We may paraphrase it as “where is your inner being invested?” or “what do you pour your treasure into?” It isn’t wrong that the disciples trusted in the boat. Jesus didn’t confront them as making a wrong choice; he showed them they HAVE a choice. We still need safety and security and we still need the things that provide them, like jobs and money. But that isn’t Jesus’ point. This isn’t an either/or sort of thing; this is about “placing our treasure in heaven, where rust does not destroy and thieves do not steal.”
This is about monitoring our ego and not letting it run amok and cause us to pour our soul into boats, jobs and money. It’s about abiding in the one who loves us most and not allowing the sharks to dictate our emotional state. They may circle and we may think God is asleep, but neither are the deeper truth because nothing that threatens us or causes us unbelief will ever change the fact that God loves us with an unconditional, limitless and endless love beyond what we can comprehend. That alone is where we find our rest and center.
So, there is Life and there is the world. It is not our birthright to merely exist in this world – this shark tank – but to LIVE in it! This means to overcome; to thrive; to walk boldly by abiding in the vine that the Spirit of God may develop the Fruit of the Spirit in us. The only way to live is to follow Christ with the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit. Be of good cheer, for our Lord has overcome the world (John 16:33) and stand upon the written word that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline (II Timothy 1:7).
Also be encouraged by these scriptures:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6, ESV)
If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31b, ESV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39, ESV)
for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6, ESV)
for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4b, ESV)
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5, ESV)