I was reading in Matthew, and I was taken by storm… Or the disciples were and I learned a lesson? Anyway, I saw two very real scenarios of fear and two very real reactions.
The first scene we come upon is Jesus. He’s invited two more disciples to follow Him, and they take off on a boat ride across the sea. All of a sudden out of nowhere a storm attacks! The winds rage, the boat rocks, the lightening bolts, and several grown men, many of which have lived on the seas, freak out! “Jesus! Help us! Do something before we die!” I love the next moment. Jesus had been sleeping. He was not oblivious to their peril, but He had no fear. He wakes up, yawns and looks at the panicked faces around him and says, “Don’t be afraid.” Then, He turns His attention to the elements – the wind, the rain, the fire from the sky – and says, “Peace be still.” The storm ceases. Immediately. Jesus goes back to sleep while the disciples ponder yet again this Lord that they follow. “Who is this man that even the wind and waves obey him?” I want to say, “Well, Duh. He’s Jesus, Son of God. Power is His middle name and peace is His kingdom.” But I wasn’t there, and since I’m a woman they wouldn’t have listened. 😉
The second scene involves many of the same players; add two demoniacs and some pigherders. Jesus comes upon a demon possessed man (or two according to Mark and Luke) that lives in the caves. A man so violent that he cannot live around people, and he cuts himself with stones… The townspeople and, no doubt the local pigsherders, are afraid of these men. The demons see Jesus coming a mile away! After all, they recognize their God, and they know their fate; so immediately they begin bargaining. “Please Master! Don’t let us be wandering spirits without a home; put us in the pigs!” Seems like a bazaar request and yet, He grants it. He casts the demons into the 2000 pigs grazing in the hillside. Interesting day for the pigsherders, no doubt! Next thing they know, their pigs are flying off the cliff, and their collecting unemployment. The freed men/or man rejoice, begin to talk intelligently and recover their dignity while the pigherders run off in fear! “Havila! You won’t believe it! Some man was talking to the crazy mountain men and before I knew what was happening my pigs jumped off a cliff!” Of course, Havila tells Sukka and Sukka tells Salome and before you know it the whole town is running in fear! “Who is this man that even the demons obey Him!” Again, I could interject, but that would require time travel and could result in a fatal stoning so I’ll just keep writing. 😉
Here’s where the two scenarios divulge… Again. In the first story, the men are filled with fear and they request the help of their Savior. He’s faithful; He saves them from the storm. In the second story, the pigsherders are filled with fear, too. They have seen the unexpected, the frankly unbelievable and they run! But they do more than that. They do something tragic. They reject their Savior. After running around the town spreading the fear and the fever, they gather around Jesus and tell Him to leave.
My heart grieves at that. There is no telling the healing, the help, the peace Jesus could have left for that town, but fear kept them from seeking anything! His power frightened them when He wanted it to free them. I’m sure the disciples followed Jesus outside of town in disbelief! They had the Son of God available to them and they pushed Him away like a giant smelly ogre! What were they thinking?!
They were thinking many things, I’m sure. But they were thinking with their emotions and not their souls. They were thinking with their fearful flesh, and their flesh sold them out. It will. Everytime. How many times do I allow my emotions to get the better of my faith? I’ve seen Him do the miraculous for others. Why can’t I see the miracles He has for me? And in fear, my emotions spiral quickly away from Him and deep into an abyss of self and pride. And I’m enslaved to what might have been. Today’s scripture reminds me, when those moments of fear surface and threaten to overwhelm me, I have two choices: request or reject. Sleep or run. I think I’ll sleep. Running takes too long and gets me nowhere. In fact, if I’d been one of the demoniacs? I’d have high tailed it out of town; better to sleep in the dust at Jesus feet than have to lay with one eye open every night in the finest hotel of the Gadarenes!