I had a paper route in middle school. Newspapers on doorsteps and phones that were mounted on walls. It was a different time then. To do my route I would ride my bike or sometimes just walk, and I’d make my way through the neighborhood delivering my papers to each home. Most days my mind was busy with anything except the mundane task that was actually at hand. On occasion due to the lack of attention I gave to my surroundings, I would abruptly find myself face to face with a particularly giant dog.
This giant dog had every intention of harming me, I was sure of it. Most of the time I’d come to attention and my adrenaline would kick in before the dog got too close, but there was one time when all of my senses froze. I stood there paralyzed in fear as this dog barked ferociously and worked its way toward me. There was nothing I could do to get my body to move. The world was in slow-motion and fast-forward all at once. Apparently my eyelids were the only functioning part of my body. So I closed my eyes to accept my fate. It was in that moment that I heard a voice over my shoulder. The dog heard it too, and in an instant the monster set on my destruction transformed into the friendliest German Shepherd I had ever met. With one word from his master everything changed, and I was safe. Not only was I safe, but now I had a new friend on my daily route.
Reading Mark chapter 4 last week, immediately brought that story back to my memory. In that passage we find the disciples in a boat with Jesus when a violent storm begins to overtake them. It was so violent that they thought they were going to die. While the disciples were working to prevent the worst, Jesus was sleeping down in the boat on a cushion. I imagine He was enjoying the rocking of the boat and the sound of the rain as it beat on the wooden decks. But the storm was raging to the point that the disciples woke Jesus and asked Him why He didn’t care that they were going to die in the storm. During this interaction they didn’t call him Lord as they had so often in the past, but merely teacher. Jesus got up from his resting place and rebuked the storm. The storm died immediately and everything became calm. Creation heard His voice and obeyed. Everything changed. Jesus then turns to the disciples and asks, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
In my life I have found myself in the middle of some ferocious storms. And like the disciples, I forget who is Lord over the storm. My faith is small, I am overtaken by fear, and I forget about Jesus. Some of my Lifestorms have been the consequence of my own choices and actions; others have been due to the choices and actions of others. On occasion the storm was not the result of anyone directly, but simply due to the broken world we live in.
Six years ago, one of those storms stripped my family of some of the material possessions we had held most dear, possessions that we had allowed to become too important in our life and control our decisions and actions. It was during the time that we were coming out of that storm that I saw the incredible power of God to protect, sustain, and provide for us. The faith which I had let waiver became more solid and real than any time in my life prior. When I quit trying to fight the storm myself and I called upon the Master over the storm to save my family, we and all those around us saw the mighty hand of God calm our storm. Yes, it exposed my lack of faith in the past, but it also solidified a renewed faith that was deeper than any I had ever known. God tests our faith to grow our faith.
Remember, Jesus is with us in the storm. He cares! He is resting and waiting for us to trust Him. He has not abandoned us, but is near and available for us to call upon Him when we are done trying to fight the storms of life on our own. This is an opportunity to allow God to grow our faith bigger than we ever imagined possible.