>NOTES ADAPTED FROM THE SERMON AT FIRST BAPTIST GREATER WASHINGTON PARK, MONTGOMERY, AL on SUNDAY AUGUST 29, 2010
Every journey needs a few items to travel properly. In the book of Mark 4:35-41 a test is placed in the journal of the disciples, which is the same type of test we find in our lives together following Him today. We have to bring along the right items to go to the other side. In the text I find 3 items that have to be right to get to the other side:
1. We must get the Promises Right:
Throughout scripture we are reminded regularly that God is with us. He reminded the Israelites through the smoke by day and fire by night. He reminded the prophets and the apostles and disciples that he was with them. God has promised and maintained his covenant and reminded generations that his covenant love endures forever. So when Jesus says “Let us Go to the other side” we seem to forget that it is a promise. When Jesus tells us we are going to do something we have to be willing to recall his promises when things are going extremely well, and when storms are popping up from nowhere. He promises that we will suffer, he also promises that we will be chastened because he loves us, he also promises that we shall obtain eternal life and the suffering now will reveal the glory later. All of it works together for the good of those who belong to Him.
2. We must get the Perception Right:
You can imagine a cool afternoon, the sun close to setting. Everything is copacetic. Nothing better than a quiet moment with Jesus on a boat taking a little journey. Those respite moments Jesus give us are when we start to say ‘This is It!’ Similar to where Peter wanted to set up shelters after seeing Jesus transfigured (Matthew 17:1-9.) Those peaceful moments can make us forget that there is always a challenge looming around the corner. Ideal moments and experiences sometimes yield the best faith tests but you have to have the right perception about them. Marriage, children, a new job, going to college, a sickness, a healing, taking a walk around the corner can appear to be quiet moments where we forget that faith is still necessary. We see this in a group of fishermen who were certainly at least familiar by word of mouth that the Sea of Galilee is prone to have storms that pop up from nowhere.
The focus of a Christian is not a pessimistic perception but a persistent perception. As followers of Christ we cannot focus on storms as though some strange thing has come upon us. We persist in pointing our lives toward Jesus the author and finisher of faiths journey across stormy seas.
3. We must get the Petition Right:
When we forget the promise that we are going to the other side and we forget that the right perception is not to depend only on our senses, we become anxious and ask God questions like “do you care?” I find it interesting that Jesus did not address their question directly. He did not ask them “how can you ask me if I care in all that I have done for you?” He did not chide their faithlessness in their peril. He did not even ignore their petition and stay asleep, leaving them to their own doubt and and disbelief. Instead He heard their cry and granted them in His actions what they needed. It was more than just an answer to their question. God cares about our dire moments in life, He cares about our prayers, He answers prayer. But what He wants to know is “Do you still have no faith?”
Trouble is always looming. God has been the consistent one where we have from time to time gotten on the wrong boat. When were given instructions ‘go help the homeless’ we followed until our own trouble started and then ask God if He cares about the resources we need in our lives. When we were told to be fathers to the fatherless, we follow till the struggle was clearly one that only faith could push us through and ask God if he cares about how children are treating us. Time after time God has told us that he cares. He cares about about our needs and He cares that we trust Him. And because He cares he will carrying us through to the other side so that we can help those on the other side in their storms.
I believe the songwriter said it best:
When the world seems cold and your friends seem few
There is someone who cares for you
When you’ve tears in your eyes your heart bleeds inside
There is someone who cares for you.
Someone to care, someone to share
All your troubles like no other can do
He’ll come down from the skies
And brush the tears from your eyes
You’re his child and he cares for you.