Yesterday in Sunday school, my kids and I looked at Mark 4:35-41, in which Jesus calms a storm on the sea of Galilee. We had an interesting mix as the youth teacher was paged at the last minute so I had a range from 6-16, but the kids have had me for a teacher long enough that they are getting good at spotting the interesting details in a story. While we would expect townies and landlubbers like say, Matthew or Judas, to be freaked out by a storm on the water, four of the thirteen men on the boat were experienced fishermen. They had been through storms before, but this one was enough to worry them. This was a huge storm. My son suggested it was a waterspout- a tornado on water. Here are some of my own takeaways from the lesson- 1. Storms are going to blow up suddenly and without warning. 2. They may be the kind I'm used to dealing with, (like the fishermen were used to storms) or they may be something completely foreign (like the townies were experiencing). 3. How long do I try to handle things on my own, not wanting to 'bother' Jesus? Until it becomes a life-or-death situation? 4. How quick am I to accuse Jesus of not caring? (v. 38) 5. Why I am so fearful? How is it that I have no faith? (v. 40) I have an answer to that last one. For me, the key to the whole story is the statement Jesus makes in v.35 "Let us cross over to the other side." He didn't say 'let's try' or 'I hope we make it'. He was completely sure of His mission, and confident that God would see Him through until the completion of it. I get fearful and lose faith because a.) I lose sight of what I'm doing or where I'm going, SO b.) I'm not so sure God is going to bring me through it. To help me out with some of this, my husband is giving me a fabulous gift. A week from today, I'm heading to Indy for an early Tuesday flight to a Florida beach for a vacation alone with God. Alone with God. Just me, and God and the beach. I know He's always had the answers. I think I'm ready to hear them.
Today starts the second week of camp with the high school kids. We use the same lessons, but try a little more depth and a little more intensity (mess, that is) with the games.
We’ve discussed with the kids that they received superpowers as soon as they were saved, including the indwelling Holy Spirit to help them accomplish the mission God gives us to evangelize the world. We warned them that the Enemy has plenty of weapons of his own to hinder us, including anger. Another huge weapon- the one that works on me- is fear.
We don’t usually think of it this way, but fear is the absence of trust. When we don’t trust the quality of our studying, we are afraid to take a chemistry test. When we don’t trust physics and Boeing, we don’t get on airplanes. When we don’t trust people, we are afraid to invest ourselves in friendships and relationships. When we don’t trust God… nothing else works.
My gracious Father knows that fear is a major issue, so He talks about it a lot in the Bible. There are hundreds of references dealing with fear, worry, anxiety- all different heads of the same monster. Here are a few to implement:
(2 Tim 1:7 – KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Fear NEVER comes from God. He gives us a spirit of power (yes I can do what He gives me to do) a spirit of love (loving others is the key to carrying out the mission) and a sound mind (thinking clearly and truthfully about ourselves and our situation.)
(Psalm 118:6) The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
That’s IS. Present tense. Right now. Count on it. Not “I hope He’s with me”, or “He might be if…” If I get the IS part, the ” I will not be afraid” part is a piece of cake. And that’s GOD with me. What can a man do to frustrate the purposes of Almighty God? Nothing… (Why don’t I remember that?)
(1 John 4:18) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
GOD IS PERFECT LOVE. He defines it. He loves me perfectly and so seeks only my best interest. Granted His definition of ‘my best interest’ and mine often clash, but that’s my lack of trust popping up again. His perfect love carries an eternal perspective that I can’t always see or wrap my mind around.
This is one of those lessons the teacher needs more than the students. God called me to go forth and conquer, not stay home and whimper.