I have read through the gospels many times looking for questions that Jesus asked his disciples. I feel it is so important for us to ask ourselves the same questions Jesus asked his disciples because there are topics and issues that Jesus addresses over and over in his ministry. Today, I want to look at the question Jesus asks his disciples after they were caught in a storm at sea (Matthew 8:23-27). He asks, “Why are you afraid? Don’t you trust me to be with you?” We’ve all had the experience of going through life when things are great and in a moment everything changes and we become afraid. Today, I want us to think about facing our fears and there are three things that I want to share.
First of all, it’s interesting when you begin looking at what it means to be afraid. Why am I afraid? It’s usually when life spins out of control; it’s when the storm looks so big that I suddenly realize I’m not in control. That’s really where fear comes from.
Have you ever been caught in a boat out in a storm? I have. I’ve been out in a 45-foot sailboat in the middle of the ocean when a quick storm pops up. There were four of us on the boat; I was captain. Suddenly we were in this storm and it was howling, and my heart was pointing, but I remembered there are things to do if you get caught in a storm. Drop the sails. Start the engine. Point the bow to the wind. Close the hatches on the side of the boat and above so that if water comes in the boat it won’t go down below. Secure everybody in the cockpit and hold on. I’ll never forget standing there after completing this checklist and even though I had done all the things, I couldn’t guarantee we were going to be okay. That’s when I became afraid. You can do everything right, you can do everything you’re supposed to do and you still can’t guarantee it’s going to work out okay and that’s when you and I become afraid.
Secondly, it’s so important to face our fears. Don’t run; face your fears. It means we start by doing everything that we can, but more importantly, we remember to focus on the One who brings light into the darkest of nights, the founder of our faith, the one we can trust. It is important to do everything you can do, but it’s also important to stop doing and grow still each day to focus on Christ.
Third, what facing our fears really boils down to is the question, “Are you and I willing to trust in that which we cannot see, measure and touch?” Are you willing to trust in God’s grace and the gift of God’s love? You and I live in an age of science; we live in an age of knowledge and reason and for that I’m grateful. As a lover of history, when I look back over hundreds of years and I see what has been done to people in the name of faith, I am grateful I live in an age of science and reason. The bad part of living in this time, however, is that we are taught that what is real is what you can hold and what you can see and what you can touch. That’s what you trust; what you believe in. I think those are all good things, but we also have to trust that life is more than just what you can see, it’s more than just what you can hold, taste and touch.
The disciples were out there on the sea, and the Bible says Jesus stilled the winds and the waves and they marveled; they were amazed. They said, who is this man who can calm the winds and waves? They did not understand. How often in life we cannot understand, but can we trust? Trust in God’ grace and presence.