Been in a storm lately?
Our “young ladies” Sunday school class uses LifeWay’s “MasterWork” series, using books by Christian writers and condensing them down to 4-8 week studies. This week we are starting Max Lucado’s Fearless. WOW! If the first week is any indication, it’s going to be great.
I love Max’s imagery:
Fear, it seems, has taken a 100-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversized and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and umproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.
Have you been in that prison? Are you there now?
The text for the week is the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8.
- Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. (v 24) Matthew uses the word seismos for this storm. You recognize it in our English word seismograph— which measures earthquakes! This was not some little spring rain. It was like an earthquake on water. Of course the disciples woke Jesus up screaming for help, afraid they would be killed. Imagine how ludicrous the disciples imagined Jesus’s response to be:
- “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” [Are you kidding me? Why are we afraid?] Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
“There is something on the x-ray.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
“Your child is legally blind in that eye.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
“I’m just not happy anymore.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
“This is the principal.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
“Mom? Dad? You’d better sit down.” “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!”
After all the miracles they had seen; after all the love Jesus had demonstrated, in Mark’s account (4:35-41) their first question was “Don’t you care that we are going to drown?” Fear gives us amnesia sometimes. It corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. [Lucado] And then we begin grabbing at any straw we can in order to feel that we are in control of something– our kids, our schedule, the clutter in our homes.
Christ gives 21 “don’t fear”-type commands. (There are only 8 of the second most common command, to love God and your neighbors.) I think this is an indication of how prevalent God knew that our fear would be, and how much help He knew we would need!
In the first week’s wrap-up, Max reminds us that fear will run amok in our worlds, but we don’t have to let it fill our hearts. It will knock on our doors, but we don’t have to ask it in for dinner or to stay the night! Here are some ways to fight fear when it comes knocking.
1. Stay close to Christ by spending time in prayer and in the Word regularly. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear..
2. Keep a “box of remembrance” to forestall amnesia. Bring to mind the hard times you have seen God bring you or loved ones through. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Deuteronomy 11:19
3. Keep these “don’t fear” verses handy: (I like index cards.)
- Matthew 10:31 “Don’t be afraid. You’re worth much more than many sparrows”
- Matthew 9:2 “Take courage; your sins are forgiven.”
- Matthew 14:27 “Take courage. I’m here!”
- Matthew 6:25 “Don’t worry about everyday life…”
- John 14:1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” (The antidote to fear is FAITH!)
How have you fought fear?