The menacing storm dumps gallons of water over the side of the boat with each crashing wave. Flashes of lightening illuminate the dark sky as peels of thunder make even the bravest of fishermen quiver in their boots. The daunting currents thrust and shove the boat around as though a child were playing with a toy in bath water. Just when things can’t possibly get any worse, a tempestuous squall makes a beeline towards the vessel and pours so much water in that the disciples fear the boat will capsize. Despite the danger and chaos, Jesus is sleeping peacefully and soundly.
Finally, in a moment of desperation, Jesus’ disciples cry out, awakening him, and then plead with him to save their lives. With a calmness that only the Son of God could possess in such a storm, Jesus rebukes the howling wind and the raging waters. Immediately, a tranquility settles over the lake as the clouds disappear and the sun begins to shine once again. Turning to his followers, Jesus asks, “Where is your faith?”
The disciples experience an odd combination of emotions. They experience amazement, wonder, and awe while being filled with terror, fear, and anxiety. Turning to each other they whisper, “Who is this? Even the winds and waters obey his commands.”
The full account of the story can be found in Luke 8:22 – 25. Most Christians have heard this story dozens of times. Yet how often has this classic Bible story been applied to one’s life today? While sailors and fishermen certainly still exist, they have technology to predict the weather, illuminate rocky shores, and provide guidance through storms. In spite of everything, what if this story was included in the book of Luke to teach today’s Christians a lesson about conquering fear and worry?
There isn’t an adult in the world who hasn’t encountered a storm of some sort. While many people don’t live anywhere near a lake or ocean, storms can show their face in the form of a tornado, lightening and thunder, and so on. However, a physical storm isn’t the only tempest that God has power over. If Jesus has authority over the wind and the waves, he can certainly command the rain of job loss, the hail of an empty bank account, the lightening of a broken marriage, the thunder of sickness and suffering, and any other waves threatening to capsize one’s life to cease and desist immediately.
Faith is what Jesus asked of his disciples after the storm. What is faith? How does one place such trust in a God that is unseen? In his essay An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Martin Luther said, “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it.” This means that even when no one else believes and one is standing alone on the mountain of truth, a Christian is called to have a bold trust in God knowing that his plan and his will is the best way regardless of the outcome.
As C.S. Lewis was once quoted, “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” A commitment is required to truly trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each follower of Jesus, must choose to believe, choose to trust, and choose to have faith in God’s plan. Only when this commitment is made will a child of God be able to have faith in the face of adversity, despite a lack of understanding, and in spite of pain or even death. The point is that Jesus will conquer the fears and worries of his children! Lay the burdens at his feet. Jesus’ shoulders are strong enough to carry the weight of the entire world.
However, this leap of faith cannot be done in a half-hearted effort. It is the result of a relationship with Christ. In his book A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit, Phillip Keller writes, “It is not enough to ‘half listen’ to God. He demands my total concentration on what he is conveying to me. He knows that anything less will leave me half-hearted. My positive response results in immediate action on my part. His will be done. His wishes are carried out. His desires are complied with happily. His commands are executed without delay or debate. In short, I simply do what he asks me to do. This is faith in action – the faith of obedience.”
Jesus is calling his followers to have a faith so strong it can move mountains. This faith cannot be found in one’s self or through one’s own power. It can only be given by the Lord as he desires to bestow on each of his children. Psalms 31:23a says, “Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful.” Choose to make the commitment of faith today. The peace that faith yields can only be found at the foot of the cross.