the Storm Within
One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's
go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set
out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so
that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples
went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got
up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and
all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and
amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds
and the water, and they obey him." (NIV)
In Marks account of Jesus calming the sea,
he tells us Jesus and his disciples had left a crowd of people to get into
the boat. There is little doubt but what Jesus had spent the day teaching
and perhaps working miracles. Can you imagine the excitement of the disciples
after listening to Jesus and watching him work with the crowd? No doubt
they were having one of those mountain peak experiences. Then Jesus directs
them to sail into a storm, which threatens their very existence.
Jesus simply goes to sleep in the boat. Many
wonder why Jesus was asleep, but that’s not hard for me to figure out.
I am never more tired than I am on Sunday evening. Teaching three classes
a day tires you. Imagine, people pressing you all day for answers. Jesus
was exhausted. So Jesus sleeps. That’s usually the first thing I want to
do on Sunday evening after church.
Developing A Realistic Faith
The hardest thing in the world is to develop
what we have learned in our minds into a practical way of living. Knowing
Jesus, I have to believe he knew there was a storm ahead. Actually, there
is always a storm ahead. He wanted them to see the correlation of what
he was teaching to real life.
The disciples discover they are following
the Messiah they do not understand. Imagine Jesus teaching a crowd as he
works miracles, and somehow they are still asking one another in fear and
amazement, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and
they obey him."
In Marks account it looks like the disciples
were even more afraid when the storm miraculously stopped than they had
been while it still raged: "They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who
is this, even the wind and the waves obey him?’" (Mark 4:41)
Jesus wants us to use our knowledge
of him in the laboratory of life. Jesus no doubt places his disciples
in this dilemma. He wants to help them make application of what he is teaching
and doing. This is where real belief is forged. How can they spend all
this time with Jesus and not transfer this knowledge to real life? How
can we formulate religious doctrines and study them all our lives and not
understand how it applies to real life.
All of us know what to do in the storms
of life---you do whatever you need to do to maintain control of the situation.
knows what to do in a storm. You reef the sails, you tug on the ropes,
you bail water and it is no time for sleeping. They were probably expecting
Jesus to get up and start tugging on the ropes or at least get a bucket
and start bailing water out of the boat. You always have that last resort
when all else fails--you can seek help—then you can ask God to put you
back in control.
We want a faith in God that puts us
in control of our own lives. We want to build responsible people
who are in firm control of their lives. Being in control is one of life's
virtues. We seek to emulate the discipline of the athlete, the successful
professional, the wise investor, etc. We go mountain climbing, sail boating,
and take up sports to sharpen our skills of being in control. We think
facing a daring world head on will increase our skills of self-reliance.
The harshest judgments we make are against
those who are out of control. It is a crime to allow your emotions to control
you. When our children are out of control we are considered failures. When
our finances are out of control it is irresponsibility. We want people
who will take responsibility for their lives and the lives of others.
But there is a limit to what we control.
We can't control our lives and have Jesus as Lord of our lives. We are
responsible for the way we live, but ultimate control--final authority
in our lives--rests with God, as we know Him in Jesus Christ.
Faith believes God never directs us
to sail into storms he can’t still. You wonder if these scriptures
ever came to their minds during the storm. Psalm 89:8-9: "O Lord God
Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness
surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up,
you still them." Or perhaps they thought of Psalm 93:4: "Mightier
than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the
sea - the Lord on high is mighty." Did they ever really understand
these scriptures in a literal since?
The only reason Jesus ever rebuked his
disciples was for the lack of faith. Have you ever asked yourself,
"Is my faith in God real?" The storms of life test the reality of our faith.
"Why were you so afraid," Jesus asks his disciples. "Why do you let wind
and waves scare you when I'm with you? Do you still have no faith?"
Faith is measured by what we do in the
midst of the storm. We want God to make us independent. Especially
make us independent of his help. We would like for God to be able to remain
asleep somewhere in the back of the boat, without having to call on him.
Often we are too proud to give God a wake up call.
Be Informed About Storms
Have you noticed life has a rhythm to
it? The ups and downs in life are similar to the notes on the score
of a song, which go up and down with the rhythm. After every mountain peak
experience there is a valley into which we must descend. Life is designed
this way. Some valleys are deeper than others, but the deeper the valley
the higher the next mountain peak experience will be. We may walk through
valley of the shadow of death, but we can rest assured with God the deliverance
before us will be the greatest experience ever.
The disciples were on this lake that could
be as smooth as glass one moment and treacherously deadly the next moment.
At times you could call it Lake Placid. The lake was a 600 feet below sea
level lying in the deep valley of mountains covered with deep ravines.
The wind through those mountainous passages could blow up a storm without
warning. At times those valleys and ravines would serve as a wind tunnel
directing the winds on to the surface of that lake.
Our most terrible storms in life are
unpredictable. All may be going well and something hits us right
in the face. It always happens just when you think you can kick back and
enjoy life. It comes out of nowhere in the twinkling of an eye turning
our lives upside down as it dashes all of our dreams and aspirations. These
unexpected storms are usually furious. However, God is in charge of world
affairs and he can handle the storms in our lives. Scriptures testify to
"Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens
and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too
hard for you. Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 'I am the LORD,
the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?'" (NIV)
Heaven is God's throne and the earth is his
footstool. If you believe this you can survive any storm.
For by him all things were created: things
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers
or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He
is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NIV)
Stilling the Storm Within
The hardest part is stilling the storm
within. The storms without do not pose our greatest threat. The
storms raging within our own hearts are the most dangerous. The storm on
that lake wasn't the real danger. It was the storm raging within their
hearts that posed the greatest threat. At times there is a storm cloud
inside me with high gusty winds. We may be able to manage our problems
externally, but it is what's going on inside of us that really count.
Jesus asks, "Why were you so afraid," Jesus
asks his disciples. "Why do you let wind and waves scare you when I'm with
you? Do you still have no faith?"
Our biggest problem is our unbelief,
not the storms. Our failure comes from within. We do not have the
conviction that our God can or will do anything. It is more than believing
he can. We must believe that he will. The disciples had heard Jesus teach.
They saw him work miracles, but when it came down to it they had very little
faith in him. They found themselves hopeless in the storm and terrified
by what he did.
And without faith it is impossible to please
God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that
he rewards those who earnestly seek him. By faith Noah, when warned about
things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his
faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that
comes by faith. (NIV)
We hear echoes of Noah and the Flood - in
which the life of the whole world was protected in a little boat bobbing
on the waves. One thing Noah was forced to remember, as the storms were
raging around the ark was that God was in charge. Through his faith we
are all here today. I don't think it was a coincidence that the first thing
Noah did when descended from the ark was to build an altar to worship God.
The devastation he saw when he descended from the ark drove him to his
The most important aspect of this story
is that Jesus is in the boat with them. When we face our trials
in life we must realize that Jesus wants to be in the boat with us. He
doesn't wish to desert us. He is ever present.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present
help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar
and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah (NIV)
It is not the storm without, but the enemy
within that poses our greatest threat. In Victor Hugo's story, "Ninety-Three,"
a ship is caught in a storm. The frightened crew hears a terrible crashing
sound below. Immediately the men know what it is: a cannon has broken loose
and is crashing into the ship's side with every smashing blow of the sea!
Two men, at the risk of their lives, manage to fasten it down again, for
they know that the unfastened cannon is more dangerous than the raging
storm. Hillery C. Price made this application: "Many people are like that
ship--their greatest danger areas lie within their own lives."
Out of chaos, God creates. Out of the storm,
God speaks. Through testing and trouble God forges faith, the way steel
is forged in fire. We think that things are going well with God when everything
is peaceful and quiet, when our lives are in order, health is good, the
marriage is strong, the family is at peace, the sky is blue, the sun is
shining. But the Spirit's faith-work goes on in the storm, in the chaos
of suffering, testing, temptation, in the unexpected hurricanes and tornadoes
of life, when we suddenly realize we have no control over our lives.
They were as terrified of the remedy
as they were the storm. After the storm, the disciples were still
afraid. Even though the wind was quiet and the waves were calm, Mark says
they "feared a great fear." They were terrified. "Who is this, this man
who speaks to the wind and the sea and they obey him?"
Now they feared the one who had been
asleep in the back of the boat. Better to fear the Lord than the
wind or the waves. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The
fear of the Lord is the beginning of faith. Jesus said, "Do not fear those
who can harm the body but cannot harm the soul. Fear the One who can destroy
both body and soul in hell." Fear God, and you have nothing left to fear.
The fear of the Lord means the end of all fear. The fear of the Lord swallows
up all fear.
It is no small thing to be in the presence
of one who exhibits the power of God even if he is asleep. The King James
puts their question in a slightly different fashion: "What manner of man
is this?" That’s a question all of us sooner or later must answer.
We Must Take Jesus As He Is
Mark says something in his account that
Matthew and Luke do not say. Mark writes, "Leaving the crowd behind,
took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other
boats with him." (Mark 4:36 NIV) There is nothing special about Jesus getting
into the boat. There was nothing remarkable about Jesus when he got into
the boat. It was the same Jesus who had been working in the crowd. There
was no halo around his head. They didn't tell him to change clothes; they
took him as he was. If you take Jesus, you must take him as he is or not
To have Christ in you, you must accept
him as he is. There is no other way he can get in the boat. Christ
wishes to still the storm inside us. Paul writes, "Christ in you the hope
of glory." (Colossians 1:27) Our hope for salvaging our lives is to allow
Jesus Christ to get into our boat. For Jesus to be in your boat today,
he must be in your heart. Christ lives in us through our faith in him.
You must take Christ as he is or not
at all! Christ came to change us through the storms of life; he
didn't come so we could change him. The Hebrew writer says, "Jesus Christ
the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8) Christ can
change you, but you cannot change him. Many would like to take Christ into
their life if they could modify him somewhat! If they could only make him
fit into their own little mold, or make his thinking coincide with theirs!
We limit God and Christ by not taking
them as they are. We try to recreate them according to our own
thinking and we render them powerless to calm the storms in our lives.
When we do so we render God powerless to transform our lives through the
Many would take Jesus into their lives
if they could take him on their terms, or if they could dictate policy!
We try to modernize Christ and streamline his teaching. Many would take
Christ into their boat if they could separate Christ from the church. We
want Christ, but we reject his church.
To refuse to take Jesus as he is denies
him the authority to calm the storms in your life. We seek to remain
in control of our own lives as we deny him authority over our lives. He
cannot still the storm within if he is not in control.
The greatest storm Jesus wishes to calm
in our lives is the matter of salvation. He wishes to remove the
turmoil sin creates for the purpose of salvaging our lives in the midst
of the storm. However, we must let him into our lives.
We must come to Christ on his terms before
he will enter our hearts. He want enter on our terms. If Jesus had done
what the disciples expected out in the storm, they would have probably
drowned. So we must allow him to do the unexpected.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and
preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized
will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (NIV)
When you refuse to do what Christ commands
he cannot come into your heart. M any say, "I believe in Jesus,
but I don't believe you have to be baptized to be saved." When you are
baptized, your faith is not in the water. Your faith is in Christ because
that is what he commanded.
1 Peter 3:18-22
For Christ died for sins once for all, the
righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death
in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and
preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited
patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only
a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes
baptism that now saves you also-- not the removal of dirt from the body
but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection
of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--
with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (NIV)
Jesus wants to save us from the same storm
he saved Noah and his family. He wishes to do that through baptism. Baptism
saves because Christ commanded it. It is an act of faith based upon the
command of Christ.
A preacher said that baptism wasn't essential
to salvation, but he said that you must be baptized to get into the church
he was preaching for. Baptism isn’t essential for salvation, but baptism
is essential to place membership in the church. It seems that makes the
church he is seeking to build non-essential.
Much of what is being taught in the religious
world is non-essential, but what Christ taught is absolutely essential.
He cannot calm the storm raging in your heart until you listen to him.