I have some pretty odd fears.
Above anything else, I’m afraid of clowns. For whatever reason, they just all look like serial killers to me. Bits and pieces of clown getup don’t scare me, but the full-on face paint (which gives them that creepy smile and those high eyebrows), red noise, colorful hair, odd clothes do scare me. I’ve always been terrified of them. And honestly, I don’t even know how or why the fear started because I didn’t have a bad experience at a kid’s party when I was little or anything. The only exposure to a clown of any sort I had when I was little was Ronald McDonald, and it just never sat right with me. Now, some of you may be afraid of clowns, or you may know a few people who are afraid of clowns, but when I was little, I didn’t know a single person who shared my fear. And no one in my family really understood it or ever told me I wasn’t crazy, so until I got older and met people with this very same fear, I thought I was an absolute freak.
I’m also scared of bridges. Unlike my fear of clowns, I can tell you exactly when and how this fear developed. It was my senior year in high school, Spring of 2010. A few years before, the bridge connecting Jonesville and Elkin was ruled unsafe to drive on. It had been that way for a while, and they’d just been letting people drive right on across it. It could’ve fallen apart before they caught it. That was unsettling to me, but it didn’t play a part in my fear until I was in Physics class my last semester in high school.
I don’t remember what exactly we’d been going over when we started discussing bridges and bridge-building (I’ve tried to block out as much of that class as I can), but we did a bridge-building project, and the entire point of this project was to see whose bridge could withstand the most weight without breaking. (I came in third, a feat I’m still baffled and impressed by.) So I saw these model bridges being broken and thought of what would happen if all of these huge bridges in real life were to fall apart with people on them, and I realized how dangerous they are. Additionally, the results of falling from a bridge over water would combine two of my other fears – heights and drowning. It’s not a typical fear, but it’s one of mine nonetheless.
There was one night when the disciples’ fears were much more practical and realistic than mine are now. (The scripture for this passage, if you’re interested, is Mark 4:35-41.) The disciples and Jesus were sailing across a large lake. A storm came, and no little one at that. The sky was black. Waves smacked the side of the boat, pushing it from side to side, knocking hard against the boards. Water started to fill up the boat. The winds pushed the sails to their farthest point and whipped anything not tied down around in the air.
Needless to say, the disciples were freaking out, and for valid reason. But where was Jesus?
Asleep. He was napping in the stern. I’m sure He would’ve preferred something a bit more stable and luxurious than a boat, but He had the time, the space, and a pillow to rest His head on. He must have been sleeping pretty soundly too, since none of the commotion woke him up.
While the storm didn’t wake Him up, the disciples did. I imagine some of the disciples burst into Jesus’ makeshift bedroom, out of breath and soaked to their very souls. They didn’t walk over to Him and politely ask Him to wake up. No, they came in and shouted, “Jesus, what are you doing? Wake up! Don’t you care if we drown?”
The Bible doesn’t say how Jesus woke up. I feel it’s pretty safe to assume that He jerked right up, drool on His pillow, dazed yet startled. But knowing how cool Jesus is, it also wouldn’t surprise me if He just rolled over and opened one bleary eye to look at the disciples. Whether he gasped or groaned as He woke up, one thing is for certain: Jesus wasn’t too happy to be woken.
I believe there are two reasons that Jesus was a bit upset. Number one, he was woken from a much-needed sleep. This may seem silly or even trivial to you, but I firmly believe it’s important. Jesus and His group were constantly on the move. It’s not like they owned a piece of real estate where they stayed every night or even every few weeks. From my understanding, it’s hard to get a decent amount of sleep in such a lifestyle. On top of that, they weren’t exactly staying in five-star hotels everywhere they went. So here Jesus was taking advantage of an opportunity to rest, and it was ruined for Him.
Second, Jesus was legitimately upset with the disciples’ obvious lack of faith. Before the gang shoved off, Jesus was telling parables, one of which was the parable of the mustard seed. His words on the subject were, “It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade” (Mark 4:31-32, NLT). He had literally just told them about having faith, and here they were running and shouting for their lives. Why didn’t they listen? Why didn’t they believe Him or believe in Him?
So Jesus says three words to the wind and the waves. “Silence! Be Still!” (Mark 4:39, NLT). And everything stopped. It was calm and quiet. I’m sure it felt almost like there hadn’t been a storm in the first place.
“Then [Jesus] asked them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:40, NLT).
How do you even respond to that? There is no response other than fear and amazement, which is exactly what filled the disciples in that moment. They began wondering who this man who had control over legitimately everything – including the elements – really was.
What else could scare you after seeing an act like that? Absolutely nothing. You realize that there is nothing God can’t handle or overrule.
That is the fear of the Lord: being afraid to do anything apart from Him and His protection.
You better believe that if I’d been on that boat, thrashing around in the storm and in danger of dying, I’d never leave Jesus’ side. Wherever He went, you’d see me right there beside me. Not only because He could help me out of whatever trouble I was in, but also because He could keep me from ever getting into those awful situations. He provided the disciples with not just protection, but calmness. Jesus could’ve just put them in a little bubble and let the storm rage around them. What a scene that would’ve been. Instead, He calmed everything because that is exactly what they needed to see to fully believe in Him.
But haven’t I been on that boat? Yes, if I look closely, I’m familiar with the tattered sails and water pooling on the deck. Haven’t I been in situations that were going to drag me all the way down if I hadn’t called on Jesus and had Him get me out of them? Hasn’t He saved my life in the most spectacular ways? Hasn’t He given me a sense of peace and comfort when I needed it most?
Hasn’t He done that for all of us?
The Chatterbox loves to play on our fears and lives to talk about them. The only way to defeat the Chatterbox is if we fear nothing but God. There is no “What if?” scenario that can trump God. There is no scenario scarier than being mid-storm without Him.
By Carrie Prevette