Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Angie Smith’s new study, Matchless. Order your copy or see a free sample today at LifeWay.com/Matchless.
Fun fact about me: I’m terrified of flying. When people ask me why that’s the case, I feel like it’s my opportunity to make a PSA explaining that we’re trapped in a metal bus that’s trying to defy the way ACTUAL GRAVITY works. In what scenario is unpredictably bouncing around on clouds at a cruising level of thirty thousand feet not scary? Also I’m very familiar with the “ding” system. One ding means we can go to the bathroom. A high ding means we’ve reached our cruising level. Three low dings mean we’re going down, and it’s every man for himself.
In all seriousness, it’s not uncommon for me to have major panic attacks on really turbulent flights. I have to sit by the window to keep the plane up (by making sure I can see the ground). And as long as it’s a nice day and smooth, I’m totally fine. It’s just when it’s stormy or super bumpy that makes me panic. Let me be clear: I’ve grabbed the person next to me and alternated between trying to breathe and screaming while tears fall on both of us. Let’s just say that on more than one occasion a flight attendant has offered me a free gift from the vine.
It’s genuine terror. The worst I ever feel in my life. It’s just so out of my control and evidently out of the pilot’s as well. Nature is unpredictable and certainly a force that we know we can’t overcome.
I don’t know what that terrifying scenario is for you, but if you have a memory of fearing for your life, go ahead and pretend to be in that situation again. And now, at this exact moment, I’m going to look you dead in the eye and ask why you are afraid.
You would probably do exactly what I would in turbulence: stare at the person as if his/her head had just caught on fire.
As the plane drops twenty thousand feet over and over, everyone realizes that this has gone wrong, and it’s not going to end well. They’re staring at each other and acknowledging the fact that they will never see their loved ones again. They’re hysterical. And then an announcement comes over the loudspeaker: “We have just gotten word that the pilot has been asleep for the last hour. We have woken him up, but he is confused about all of the mayhem that happened while he was napping. He has found the correct altitude, so things will be smooth now. Thank you for flying Galilee Air, and have a pleasant rest of the day” (4 dings).
Let’s bring that incredulity to Mark 4:35-41.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
JESUS IS ASLEEP. ON A COMFORTABLE CUSHION.
When they wake Him up, He finds them all so worked up about the whole near-drowning thing. I think we can agree that the question Jesus asks them is strange, but it’s one He still asks us every day. Why didn’t you think I would rescue you? Did you think I didn’t care?
Consider some situations in your life where you were desperate for help and convinced that Jesus was asleep.
I’ve had moments of sheer panic when it didn’t seem like He was going to come through. In those moments, I’m not sure Jesus’ response to the disciples would have felt comforting to me: Why are you so afraid? Do you really still not have faith in me?
Spoiler alert: Jesus knew why they were afraid.
He was inviting them into a deeper conversation about trusting Him while also recognizing that they haven’t stopped believing in Him.
They have faith; it’s just small. He’s asking them to ask themselves that question: why am I afraid?
What does Jesus say to them in verse 35?
He basically says, Let’s go. Get in the boat, because we’re headed somewhere. We have a destination, and I’m telling you that we’re going to end up there, so climb on in. It isn’t a maybe situation; it’s Jesus essentially saying there is no other option but to arrive on “the other side” (v. 35) safely.
I know Jesus doesn’t give those guarantees to us in the same way, but ultimately that’s because we have different definitions of “the other side” (v. 35).
Sometimes that destination doesn’t feel as reassuring as it should, does it? I wish I could say it always did, but the truth is I suffer from anxiety and depression, and they fight hard to keep hope at a distance.
Jesus asks them why they are afraid. First: He already knows the answer. Second: Of course they are. In Matthew, they wake Him and ask Him to save them (which seems to indicate that they believed He could), but in the other two accounts, their priority seems to have been somewhere else, and I wonder if you can relate.
What did the disciples ask Jesus as they woke Him up in verse 38?
I believe You can save me, but I don’t know if You even care.
Are You sleeping because You aren’t afraid of the storm or because You don’t care what happens to me?
I think those are fair questions, ones we all have to wrestle with in our lives.
These are small words to describe a huge statement, but it’s the only way I can think to say it: Since before the beginning of time, He has known more about you than you will ever know. As a believer in Christ, know that He loved you before you loved Him, and in every moment of your life, regardless of what it feels like, He is never far from you. You, my sister, are His beloved creation, and one day He’s going to take you to the land He has promised you.
I know, because that’s what the five dings mean.
Want to learn more about Matchless? Watch the short video below or view a free sample and teaching video clips at LifeWay.com/Matchless.
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