Let’s start with a very familiar story in Scripture…
Mark 4:35-40, “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
When someone else is going through the storm, its very easy for us to look on with passive judgement and use the person’s trial as an example of what “not to do”. But, when it is me (or you), then we are challenged with doubt, fear, anxieties, hopelessness, and all sorts of negative emotions. When the wind is easy breeze and smooth sailing with sleepy little waves, we tend to think we have great faith that can move mountains. But, when the winds of life begin to toss us like a little bobber, it is easy to question who and what we are.
The transition from powerful faith to tremendous doubt can happen in just a few seconds when confronted with a bad report. The emotional rollercoaster of life can be thrilling and at the same time exhausting! Let me assure you…its natural!
We see in the above Passage three things that we can draw from and apply to our situations going on right now. First, Jesus said “Let us pass over unto the other side”. It was a directive. More than ever before, we need to hear the voice of the Lord clearly for our own lives. Not just a word for someone else, but we need to know that the Lord has given me a directive. For if Jesus said it,, I believe it, and it is so! It’s a foundation to build on. Its a rock that anchors us when the winds of life start blowing. When God gives a direction to follow, then nothing can detour us or steal the vision from us. Direction is important to having faith when all else seems lost. His directive or command to go is the only thing we can hold on to at times.
Secondly, the storm! All the waves crashing in around us! The one thing we counted on to get us to where we were told to go is now full of the water it was suppose to protect us from. Church trouble. Church family lets us down. The list is endless of what can come against us, but the hardest thing is when the ship of Zion doesn’t seem to have enough sufficiency to keep us from the storm. We feel let down and eventually we find Jesus in the back of the boat (seemingly hid away) and asleep on a pillow. We then ask the question, “Lord, do you care?” The trial seems to be larger than life and instead of the Lord being at the bow of the boat barking out commands, we feel that our compass is spinning out of control, we can’t see the shore because of the tempest all around us, and the Lord is off sleeping somewhere. The trial is always real to the one going through it! No matter if its cancer or a hangnail, to that individual, its real.
Thirdly, Jesus asks the questions “why are you fearful” and “why is it that you have no faith”? I’ve felt the sting of those questions before! For someone that truly believes that God is able to do all things, but when I’m in that vulnerable moment in life when all hell has broke loose, the last thing I want to hear is the probing questions about my fears and lack of faith. Although it hurts, there are times we must hear those words. Faith is challenged when fear enters. The weights of fear either discourage us from exercising in faith, or it will exercise our faith to make it stronger (using a weight lifting analogy). If you are training to become a world Jiu-Jitsu Champion and you are still practicing with a green belt sparing partner, then your “faith” is not being challenged. But, when we step into a ring with the heavy weight champion one must have overcome fear with faith or learn how to dance…and fast! So, don’t shun the questions about fear and faith…embrace them and learn from them.
There are those within our ASR family that have been told that God wants to take them to places where they will do exploits in the Kingdom! Then…about the time they obey…BAM!…the tempest begins to blow and they are reeling from the repeated blows of wind and waves. Their boat seems like it is about to sink from all that they are trying to carry…and then, when they have hit their knees and finally found an audience with Jesus, He needles you with questions about fear and faith. You feel confused from it all…but, I feel led in the Holy Ghost to help you understand that when you get to the destination, there will be demoniacs there who need to be freed and this trial is preparing you to confront them. Don’t curse the directive, nor the trial, and nor the question about your faith. Just know the trial has made you stronger and that your purpose will be embraced. You are being prepared to face devils, and have the faith to know that if God could take me through the storm, He can certainly cause the enemy to flee before you.
May the Lord of Hosts be in your boat through every storm that life brings your way!
Mark A Hardin