Fear Not Have Faith
Three Principles Packaged In A Parable, Paradox, And Paradigm
One day, a diver was enjoying the aquatic world twenty feet below sea level. He noticed a guy at the same depth, but he had on no scuba gear whatsoever.
The diver went down another twenty feet, but the guy joined him a few minutes later. The diver went down another twenty-five feet, but minutes later, the same guy again joined him.
This confused the diver, so he took out his waterproof chalkboard and wrote, “How the heck are you able to stay under this deep without equipment?”
The guy took the board and chalk, erased what the diver had written and wrote, “I'm drowning, you moron!”
If you were in the boat with Jesus braving the great storm, no doubt you would join the other disciples that cried out to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are drowning?”
In Mark 4:35-41 we read, “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
What are the principles we can draw when we stand on deck alongside the disciples on that stormy night? For we too have been walking with Jesus for quite some time. We have seen his hand at work in our circumstances. We have heard his voice lead us through difficult decisions. Some of us have even wrestled with him all night long. The three principles that I have drawn from this passage comes in the form of a parable, a paradox, and a paradigm. By definition: (1) a parable is a heavenly truth hid in an earthly illustration; (2) a paradox is an apparent contradiction; and (3) a paradigm is an outstandingly clear pattern.
The First Parable Principle. First, the parable principle. Realize that God will test in the open what he taught you in secret. As faith goes beyond the capacity to make certain claims, the disciples’ faith was put to the test. They were equipped with the knowledge of Jesus’ person, the secret of his parables, and the evidence of his power in preparation for their trial by water. Jesus’ training of the Twelve went even further. He taught them that faith was to be rooted, built up, and established in him.
As a disciple of Jesus, you learn as you do. If we are interpreting the scriptures without implementing it in our lives, we are likened to “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”[i] We are all bark but no bite. Jesus said, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret except to come to light.”[ii] The Lord has deposited his treasure of truth in us. We are his earthen vessels; his jars of clay.[iii] My prayer for you is that your light will not smolder nor flicker in the storms of life but shine brighter in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. As Gideon’s men smashed the jars that were in their hands to reveal the flaming torches hidden within, I pray that you yourselves “shine like stars in the world…holding fast the word of life.”[iv] We can handle the truth!
The Second Paradox Principle. Second, the paradox principle. Recognize that the God who seems absent is the God who is present. In our earthly pilgrimage, in getting from the present “here” to the future “there,” know that we are not alone. God is with us! As his disciples, we ought to take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus remains “just as he was” in our boats. He told his disciples in the past as he tells us today, “Let us go across to the other side.”[v] Jesus is together with us in this voyage through the sunshine and the storms of our Christian life.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God assures us with a promise saying, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.”[vi] In this passage, the God who created us, commands us not to fear. For he has called us by name and claimed us for his very own. We haven’t a prayer’s chance on earth to avoid ‘passing through the rivers’ but rest assured, God has promised that he will be with us when we brave life’s raging waters. We will not be swept over. We will get wet, we may even get drenched, but we will not drown.
The Third Paradigm Principle. Third, the paradigm principle. Come hell or high water, rest assured that God’s program will not fail. Jesus, in the stern, sleeping on a cushion, makes for a powerful picture of peace. In their toddler years, my daughters Natalia and Rebecca learned a new song in their Sunday school. In a duet they would sing “With Christ in my vessel I can smile at the storm…as we go sailing home.”
Is that true of you today? Think of one stormy situation that has blown your way recently. For some of you, the clouds in your lives may still look gray and grim. You hear the peal of thunder and you see the flash of lighting at a close distance. It appears that the forecast is not in your favor. Storm signal number three is hoisted and you are bracing yourself for a trying typhoon. How well are you doing in trusting Jesus’ presence, inner peace, and available power during this period?
Presently, your whole circumstance may seem unnatural, unreasonable, and downright unbelievable. It could only be handled by faith! When you are swamped with waves of doubt and difficulty, do you respond in faith and peace or fear and panic? When we tread life’s unfamiliar, unsuspecting waters, our faith must be anchored to an object. Jesus should be the object of our faith, the anchor of our soul. Have faith that he is big enough then as he is today to handle all our stormy situations.
James O. Fraser was a missionary for the China Inland Mission. He was besieged by wave upon wave of difficulty. His hardships are recounted in a biography written by his daughter Eileen. She writes, “He had been captured by bandits before. They surrounded him, seized him, and stripped him. But they had spared his life. He had nearly drowned when he sank in quicksands up to his neck on a journey to West Yunnan. He had often been shot at by armed men, and as for thieves and burglars by night—they had become just a mild inconvenience.” Eileen’s father quoted Job 5:19 saying, “From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you.” After all, James thought, “a Christian is immortal till his work is done.”
Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you're alive, it isn't.[vii] As Christians, we all possess the immortal life of Christ within us. We remain immortal until God’s purposeful work is accomplished in and through us. It was Jeremy Taylor who once said that we are safer in the middle of a storm with God, than anywhere else without him. Surrounded by the fearful wind and waves, the confusions, bewilderments, and perplexities of life, you will discover peace with Jesus Christ in the eye of the storm—fear not, have faith.
[i] 1 Corinthians 13:1.
[ii] Mark 4:21-22.
[iii] 1 Corinthians 4:7.
[iv] Philippians 2:15-16.
[v] Mark 4:35.
[vi] Isaiah 43:1-2.
[vii] Richard Bach.