Today's Sunday Leftovers is not taken from my pastor's fine sermon yesterday. Instead it was taken from the first in a four week Bible Study that our Women's Ministry Leader is conducting based on four chapters of Max Lucado's book, Fearless, Imagine Your Life Without Fear. Max Lucado is unquestionably a gifted writer and I am a great fan of his books. This one might turn out to be my favorite because of its relevance in my life at this particular time. But, I dare say that it will be relevant in yours as well. Who is not fearful at times? We all are, of course! Fear is the early warning system in our bodies that tells us there is danger ahead and in that context fear is a very good thing. It is also the paralyzing, irrational, depressing, debilitating fear that Max Lucado addresses in this book. It is the fear that overwhelms us and interferes with our lives to the point that it steals our joy and our happiness and turns us into quivering and pathetic heaps curled up in the corner of the room, babbling hysterically. Okay, that last part might be somewhat melodramatic and a tad extreme, but still, the world at large has become a scary place with all of the fears of the failing economy, terrorism, drug wars, weather patterns, diseases, WMD's, etc. It is also the fear that keeps us from stepping out and fulfilling God's purpose for our lives. So, the question is, "What do we do about it?" That's what this book is designed to answer for us. I can't answer the question because I am not far enough along in the reading of the book or in the Bible study to have the answer but I would like to share a few short points from last night's study.
There's a reason that God, Jesus and the angels said, "Do not be afraid" or its equivalent, approximately 1,000 times in the Bible. It is because he does not want us living in fear. He wants us to trust Him.
Read Matthew 8:23-27. Note that Jesus was not afraid of the storm. He was sleeping. The disciples' shouts were what awakened him. The first thing Jesus did was to calm the disciples by asking them, "Why are you afraid?" and adding, "You of little faith." Then he calmed the winds and the lake and the disciples were amazed.
We will most certainly have storms in our lives. As our pastor frequently says, "if you are not having a crisis/storm/problem right now, just wait because one is coming." In John 16:33, Jesus tells the disciples, " I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
So how should we handle the storms that come?
1. Call out to Jesus for help. He wants you to call on him. In fact, if you don't call on him, he won't help you. I don't remember where I heard it but this statement is so true: "God is a gentleman, he doesn't go where he's not invited." Invite him into your life and ask him for help.
2. Let him have control. God can't start his work until the crisis comes. The disciples didn't awaken Jesus in fear and then tell him how to calm the storm. No, they stood back and let him do his work. They did their part by calling on him. Now, that doesn't mean that you don't have a role to play in calming your storms, but your role is to follow God's instructions and let Him have control.
3. Keep your faith during the storm. Jesus told the disciples, "you of little faith." He was letting them know that all they needed was to trust him and the storm would not bring harm to them. He had told them they were going to cross to the other side of the lake. (Mark 4:35.) That should have been enough for them. When storms come and we call out to God and ask for help and ask him what we should do, have faith that he will be with you throughout the storm. A storm is an opportunity for God to be glorified through your faith in him.
4. Whatever storm you are in, Jesus experienced the same feelings and will walk with you through the storm. Jesus came to earth as a man. He was persecuted and abandoned and alone at the end but he knew he was not truly alone. He had faith in his Father to deliver him. He had faith in his Father to keep his promises to him. That is how he went through the storms of life...having faith in the Father. We need to trust in God to walk with us and guide us through the storms of life.
5. Storms always change us. The type of change depends on how we behave during the storm. We will grow in faith and trust in God, if we allow him to guide us through the storm. Not everyone will be healed, not every situation will turn out the way that we asked for it to. But, it will turn out in a way that can glorify God, if we trust him. We often look back on past storms and are able to see that God's hand was at work the entire time. We have to maintain our calm and trust in him and trust that he is always working on our behalf, no matter how it may seem at the time. He is working to assure our growth, trust and reliance in Him.
Now try to answer these questions: What would I do if I weren't afraid? How is fear keeping me from fulfilling God's purpose for my life? If I were fearless, how would my life be different?
I composed this from my notes in a bit of a hurry but hopefully it makes sense. I hope that these few highlights iwill bless you today and help you a bit in weathering whatever storm you might be in now or those that are coming your way. I highly recommend that you pick up Max Lucado's book and let it help you imagine your life without fear.