Last week, in FREEDOM FROM FEAR, Part 5, we learned
that though God is always there to help us in our
moments of fear, intentional, unconfessed sin can
separate us from the His help. Our job is to confess
our sin, and then continue to place our trust in
Him. But what about the times when we don't have sin
separating us from God, yet when we try to break
free from fear by taking a stand in faith, we still
Matthew records two stories of storms at sea. Two weeks ago we looked at the first one, where Jesus was calmly sleeping in the back of the boat. When the disciples woke Him up, He rebuked them for their fear, then He calmed the storm. Six chapters later, we find a similar story, only this time, Jesus isn't even in the boat.
Friends, when we are faithful in giving our fears to God, we come through the storms of life victorious. But we have to understand that we may have to face that, or a similar storm again! And this time, the playing field might not be the same!
Let's take a look at this story: "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side … When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it." (Matt 14:22-24 NIV)
Notice that there is no reference in these verses of the disciples being afraid this time. They learned their lesson well. They knew that even though Jesus wasn't with them, God still held them in the palm of His hands!
But the story doesn't stop here: "During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear." (Matt 14:25-26 NIV)
Though victorious over fear in the storm, the disciples allowed fear to overcome them when they saw Jesus walking on the water.
I don't know about you, but I think I would also be afraid if I saw an apparition walking on water!
But that "apparition" was none other than Jesus Himself.
Friends, the majority of the things that make us afraid aren't really worthy of our fear! Jesus' true nature was masked by the storm, and so often, the storms of life make ordinary, everyday things look scary as well. But no matter what, we can trust God to get us through! Our job is simply to give our fear - all of it! - to Him, to put our trust completely in His care, to keep our eyes focused solely on Him. When we do, we won't even see the things that are all around us. We will simply ride comfortably in the arms of our Heavenly Father, fully trusting Him to get us through.
But Jesus understands our fears, and He will always meet us where we are at: "But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.'" (Matt 14:27 NIV)
The moment we allow that fear to creep back in, He is there to gently remind us: "I'm here! Don't be afraid!"
But we still may not be convinced. Peter wasn't: "'Lord, if it's you, … tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus." (Matt 14:28-30 NIV)
God understands our need to experience things before we believe, and Jesus says to us as well, "Come!" When we obey, we, too, can experience complete freedom from fear.
But there is one criteria: We must keep our eyes on Jesus! "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" (Matt 14:30 NIV)
Just like Peter, the minute we take our eyes off of Jesus, we see the looming circumstance, and the doubt returns! And the minute this happens, we WILL sink!
Freedom from fear, then, requires faith, but it also requires that we stop looking at the storm. If we keep our eyes on God, no matter what new thing is thrown our way, we will prevail! But if we don't, then like Peter, we will sink!
God is so good. "Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him." (Matt 14:31a)
Even when we fall back into our fear, God is still right there to catch us. All we have to do is to turn our eyes back upon Him.
Jesus' next words were spoken with so much love: "You of little faith … why did you doubt?" (Matt 14:31 NIV)
And when you think back on it, you, too, will say, "Yes, why DID I doubt anyway???"
Freedom from fear, friends, is a result of an unwavering faith that only looks to Jesus. But isn't this a bit simplistic of a response for the fears of things that are inevitable? Things like - Death?
Join us next week for FREEDOM FROM FEAR, Part 7: The Fear of Death.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.