Saturday, August 27, 2011

Be Still

Did you know that the most frequent command in the Bible is "Don't be afraid"?  I never heard that until today.  I would have thought it would have been something like "Love God", or "Repent." Not that one command is more important than another, since God expects them all to be taken seriously, but "Don't be afraid" really hits home right now. During the last couple of weeks I have been greatly impacted the incident when Jesus calmed the storm.

Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt
From Mark 4 "On that day, when evening came, He said to them, 'Let us go over on to the other side.'  Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.  And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.  Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?; and He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' and the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. and He said to them, 'Why are you afraid?  How is it that you have no faith?'  They became very much afraid and said to one another 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'"

"Hush, be still."

When the storms rage and threaten, I am like the disciples.  I am prone to panic, even though Jesus is right there with me.  It's so easy to forget that Jesus is the maker of the earth, the seas, AND the weather.  He can stir up a storm or quiet it down just as easily.  When my eyes are on the difficulty instead of my Savior, fear grips my heart.  "What will I do?  What if...?  Oh no!"  I am sure that God wants us to cry out to him when we're in trouble, because He promises in the Psalms that he "inclines His ear to us and hears our cries".  "He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him." Psalm 91:15  But how would I have woken Jesus up in the boat that day?  From a heart of panic, or a heart of trust?

"Why are you afraid?  How is it that you have no faith?"

Years ago, when our little daughter feared an approaching hail storm in the desert, Gary said "Don't be afraid."  He knew that we were in a safe place, and the storm was not big enough to hurt us.  More than once, when a splinter had to be removed from little hands, I said "Don't be afraid, it's alright."  I knew that an infection could develop if left alone.  We comfort our children with these words because we see the bigger picture.

How am I able to obey this command?  If someone says "Don't be afraid." I want to know if that person can be trusted.  Do they know what they are talking about?  Do they understand?  Do they know the big picture?  Are they in a position to control the outcome?  Do they have my best interest in mind?  In other words, who's saying it?  If I'm laying on the gurney waiting for cancer surgery, (which I was, 9 years ago) it might be a kind gesture, if the linen delivery girl says "Don't be afraid",   But when my surgeon says it, THEN I am comforted.  I trust her abilities.  Why?  I have learned of her experience, her "track record", her knowledge of my illness.  She is calm, not nervous like me.  She has done this before, many times.

Jesus doesn't want us to be scared.  He want to soothe and comfort us. He loves us with tenderness.  He experienced all the things humans do.  That's why he was asleep in the boat after an extremely busy day ministering to so many.  He understands us because he lived a human life. Yet, he calls us to exercise our faith.  I love what J.C.Ryle said...
    From Holiness
    "But what if your heart be right with God, and yet you are pressed down with a load of earthly trouble?  What if the fear of poverty is tossing you to and fro and seems likely to overwhelm you?  What if pain of body be racking you to distraction day after day?  What if you are suddenly laid aside from active usefulness, and compelled by infirmity to sit still and do nothing?  What if death has come into your home and taken away your Rachael, or Joseph, or Benjamin and left you alone, crushed to the ground with sorrow?  What if all this has happened?  Still there is comfort in Christ.  He can speak peace to wounded hearts as easily as calm troubled seas.  He can rebuke rebellious wills as powerfully as raging winds.  He can make storms of sorrow abate and silence tumultuous passions as sure as He stopped the Galilean storm.  He can say to the heaviest anxiety, "Peace, be still!"  The floods of care and tribulation may be mighty, but Jesus sits upon the waterfloods and is mightier than the waves of the sea.  Psalm (93:4)  The winds of trouble may howl fiercely round you, but Jesus holds them in His hand and can stay them when He lists.  Oh, if any reader of this paper is broken-hearted, and care-worn, and sorrowful, let him go to Jesus Christ and cry to him, and he shall be refreshed.  "Come unto Me,"  He says, "all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  (Matthew 11:28)

    That great storm on the sea of Galilee had a purpose.  It taught the men in the boat that Jesus was God. It is teaching me that God is together with me in the difficulties of life.  He has the power to shut down the storm.   He wants me to trust Him so I won't be afraid, but I can't trust someone I don't know.  It's a call to deeper intimacy with my Savior, to take Him at His word, and live with a peaceful heart.

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