So, I know that in my very first post I said that I wasn't going to put anything personal up here. Actually, scratch that. What I ACTUALLY said was that I wouldn't put anything pretentious or self-pitying on here. But I don't think that this qualifies as that. So I still maintain my integrity.
Anyway, since it's been awhile since I've posted, I thought that, rather than try and write something completely new, I would post something from my journal. Now, I normally wouldn't do this, as I am quite the private person when it comes to this kind of thing, but I feel like God has really been blessing my socks off lately.
I've been following a Bible reading plan (or at least trying) for some time now. For the past couple of weeks, I've been going through Mark, and I've noticed that, in the past 3 chapters that i've read (halfway through 4 all the way through to the end of 6), there have been five mentions of fear. So, the page that I'm posting from my journal deals a lot with my response to fear. There's a lot of questions; most of which are not followed by answers. But, like I say in the title of this blog; this is all about going through the process of figuring the answers out.
So, I'll stop typing out my commentary on my thoughts and just let you read them for yourself. What follows is my attempt to articulate what is presently knocking around inside my head. Hopefully, you can relate...
WHAT GOD SAID TO ME: Once again, in this passage as in others in Mark, we see fear mentioned. This is the story of Jesus walking on water to meet his disciples. A thought just occurred: I’m not sure if I’m doing this section the way that Mike intended. I feel like I’m writing about the things that seem to stick out more to me than the rest. Maybe that’s me noticing. Maybe that’s God speaking. So, Jesus is teaching a crowd of people, and he tells his disciples to go ahead and get in the boat and take off. He dismisses the crowd and goes up onto a nearby mountain to pray. Here’s where my attention is captured: the Bible says that it was evening (5-9pm) when Jesus saw the disciples struggling with the oars of the boat because it was so windy out on the lake. Then, the Bible has a lapse in time. The next verse says that it was shortly before dawn (3-6am) when he went out to them on the lake. Why did he wait?!?! If he sees them struggling, and he knows that they’re afraid, why does he hold back? Why doesn’t he go down to help? WHY DOES HE WATCH?!?! Is he waiting to see how they respond? Is he waiting so that they can try to get through this by themselves? Is he waiting to see how much faith they have? Is this even a situation where faith comes in? Can it? Should it?
I don’t know anything about God’s timing. He has his reasons (which are righteous, just, and holy) for choosing when to help and when to hold back. I don’t know why, or how, he can control himself from interceding when he hears the cries of his children. I guess that this is why he is God, and why he imparts the fruits of the spirit to us, and not the other way around. He has massive amounts of self-control.
So, Jesus goes down to check on his boys. The Bible says that he was about to pass by them. This could be one of two things: either a) it indicates a simple matter of visual perspective (i.e. from where the disciples were it looked like he was going to pass them by), or b) it is indicative of God’s presence, a theophany (as in the same with Moses at Sinai). The disciples see him and thought that he was a ghost and WERE TERRIFIED. There is a lot of fear in Mark. But, in this case, the fear doesn’t fit into either of our previous two categories of fear: 1) fear based on recognition of who Jesus is and what he can do (identity and power), or 2) fear based on lack of faith (or lack of recognition of who Jesus is and what he can do). This fear seems to be based on good old-fashioned “I have no idea what the heck is going on”!
Is fear always a matter of faith? I’m scared of the dark. Does that indicate an area in my life where I need to have more faith in God? If I’m ever in a dark room and get scared, should I immediately drop to my knees, and examine my present spiritual condition in order to “get right with God”? Is fear a spiritual condition? Is it a biological response? Is it both? Whatever it is, or rather, whatever it is here, we see Jesus meet it in the same way that he meets all fear (or the other 2 kinds that we have seen in Mark thus far): he says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Now, to me, it seems like being in a boat on a lake and getting trashed about by the wind has nothing to do with God. It’s got everything to do with wind, water, being ON water (something that I am not a fan of) and not being able to do a dang thing to calm the situation down. Then, on top of all of that, the disciples think they see a ghost, and go all “Shaggy and Scooby”. So, Jesus shows up, and simply says “Guys! It’s me, Jesus! You’ve got nothing to be scared of!”
It would seem that, no matter what produces fear, whether it be a response to Jesus’ person and power, or a lack of faith, or a “What the heck is that?!?!”, the presence of the God who is in control has the power to say “I’m here. You’ve got nothing to be scared of.” Father, that’s the first time I feel like I’ve heard you in a long time. Thank you.
WHAT I'M GOING TO DO ABOUT IT: I don’t quite know what to do. I suppose I need to learn to (or maybe just straight up take action on) walk forward and live, knowing that I can have confidence in my life, my identity, and my calling based upon the loving and active presence of God in my life. Father, I have no idea how to do that. I have tried for so long, but I feel like I continue to fail at it. Help me. PLEASE. Give me the strength, your strength inside me, to do this. Help me to lie in your embrace at all times, knowing that you’ve always got my back because YOU ARE ALWAYS WITH ME!!!