Linda called me this week to ask a faith question while she battles the challenges of new faith as a freshman in college.
“Reid, do you ever feel like you really have your faith all figured out?”
“What do you mean?”
“Does it ever feel like you’ve… arrived? Or do you always run on this treadmill for more?”
“I don’t know what ‘arrival’ feels like, but as for figuring out my faith… yeah, I think I get it. God has called me to serve Him in this capacity of ministry in the church, and I feel like I’m living the dream.”
“I don’t,” she said. “I’ve been struggling to find the right truth of faith to believe the right thing. I’ve wondered if I should keep reading God’s Word out of obedience, or just read when I feel like it… which is not too much anymore.”
“What so confusing?” I asked.
“I don’t know what it’s all about anymore. What’s all this work for in figuring out my faith? Can’t I just make it make sense, and be good with it?” she inquired.
“I wish it was that way too, but God has other ways of growing our faith.”
I’m preaching on Mark 4:21-41 tomorrow at Crossroads Greeley Church and one of the main landing points is found in verses 35-41… Jesus calms the storm.
One of the most surprising things about our faith, Linda, is that God doesn’t leave us to our comfort along the sea shore. He loves us too much to leave us alone and sail off to the other side of the lake. There are storms that come and go in our life, but Jesus is right there with us in the boat. Oh, it may appear that Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat and oblivious to the raging sea, but he’s not unaware. He’s simply resting in the trust of God the Father who is Lord of all creation and controls the wind and the waves.
There’s a play of irony that I find amusing in this scene too. The disciples rebuke Jesus for sleeping through the storm and not protecting them from drowning. He’s a lifeguard now, like the tee shirt says.
Here’s the foreshadowing of Mark’s authorship in his Gospel, people tend to fall asleep when you need them the most. In the reversal of events, the 3 closest people to Jesus fall asleep when he needs them to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is going through a storm of emotions, waves and wind surround Jesus’ last moments on earth and in prayer he is asking the Father to take this cup of death from him. He is willing to go through the storm of death, only to be resurrected on the other end of it and become the salvation for all humankind. His closest friends fall asleep and Jesus gets to ask them, “why can’t you stay awake and pray?”
I wonder if they were reminded of that evening on the lake in Mark 4, just 3 years prior when they rebuked Jesus for resting after talking all day about our faith in God’s growing Kingdom? I wonder if they ever asked Linda’s question, “Do you ever feel like you really have your faith all figured out?”
Reader, when you feel like you can’t figure out if you really have enough faith to walk with God, when you feel like the storms of this life are raging around you and your only hope is asleep in the back of the boat, when you feel like your circumstances and doubts are beyond your ability to understand God’s plan… remember that you’re not alone. The disciples went through this sort of thing for years as they walked with Jesus. God took them through faith growing exercises that allowed them to learn to walk with God too.
“Good question, Linda. You get me thinking more and more about growing in faith with God. Sometimes I feel like God has me in the right place, at the right time, with the right people and places we live so that everything we do and say is a way to reflect the trust in God that He is allowing us in our lives.”
May you come to find that though God looks like he’s asleep in the storms of your life, he’s able to control the wind and the waves simply with his voice. “Quiet, be still.” God is with us. We’re all in the same boat.