Ruminations at Dawn: Fear and Rest in a Stormy Mind

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After a night of pretty much zero sleep, I finally decided to start blogging.  It’s 7am and I’m quite tired but hopefully this will turn into a coherent version of my flying ruminations from the past couple of weeks.

As I was lying awake, I recalled the resonating ideas about rest, stress and fear, which have seemed to be such prevalent themes in my life and my friends’ lives recently.  Tossing and turning, I began to feel stressed.  Why couldn’t this much longed for rest just didn’t seem drop into my lap?  As a result, the specific fears that sometimes wriggle around my mind began to dance around the room, mocking me and questioning my identity.  Usually, when I experience fear like this, I have an outlet, someone to talk to.  Talking it out always calls to the surface the problem and names the fear, which usually tames its impact and points laughing back at it.  However, at 7am, where can this be done? there is no one to rescue me!

I had an epiphany whilst I was washing my face.  The make up from the night before was really irritating and maybe I would feel more rested after removing it.  As I splashed water over my face, the picture of Jesus asleep in the storm sprang into my mind:

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Mark 4:35-41 – NLT

How the hell could Jesus be asleep?!  This was a storm.  A really bad storm!  I know that if the storm is raging outside and I’m in the house trying to sleep, I’m usually half terrified that the roof will cave in.  Here Jesus was giving the ideal example of what we should be doing if we fear and are taken away from rest.

So, to get this out, Jesus showed us that we are called to rest when the seas are turbulent and the fear of what is to come is catastrophic.  He was asleep.  You can’t get more restful than that.  This command is evident in various places throughout scripture, such as in Psalm 23:2 where it states that the Lord Makes us lie down.  Hebrews 4:9-11 says that there is a day that was made for resting and that we should rest just as God rests.  It also says that rest should be our goal.  For a long time, I’ve felt like doing this was just impossible.  As a person with anxiety disorder, being called to rest can be one of the most frustrating commands imaginable.  I can’t do this myself.  How can I rest, when my thoughts and ruminations seem out of control, when my mind is a storm that makes it hard to track and maintain a single line of thought?  Then it dawned on me.  There is a second part to the report of Jesus calming the storm.  The disciples turned to the sweetly-sleeping Jesus and woke him up.  Although the bible depicts Jesus’ frustration at their lack of faith, he got up and calmed the storm.  He did the work.  The disciples laid their burden on Jesus and he took it under his control.  There are few things we can learn from this.

Firstly, if we can’t do it, give it to Jesus because he can.  Sometimes he will let us fall into situations that appear stressful or stormy so that we turn to him.  He wants us to know that he is there for us and not to be against us but sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to maintain in control of a situation that this is a hard lesson to remember.  Psalm 55:22 says ‘Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you.  He will not permit the Godly to slip and fall’ (NLT).  The disciples has lost their faith could not trust that falling wasn’t an option in Jesus’ books.  There are no storms too big for Jesus so when we need him to take it, he will.  He will even calm the storm if we ask him.

Secondly, Jesus was the example of what we should do in the storm.  After all we follow his lead right?  We should rest and we should have faith.  Simple eh?  Recently, everything has been really turbulent with university and it has felt like everything would fall apart if I didn’t remain on edge, in control and active in solving all my issues.  Actually, what if they aren’t there for me to solve as such?  What if they aren’t there to make me stress out, lose my temper and sense of control?  As I said before, sometimes God will allow us to fall into situations which are aimed to redirect our focus towards him so that he can teach us.  So I could see that there was a storm around me but if I’m focused on the fear of the storm so much and focused on trying to control it myself then I’m not giving these things to Jesus and I’m certainly not focusing on resting in him with faith.  I’ve really been making things worse for myself.

So how do we make the transition from fear and need to control into resting with faith in Jesus?  This question can only be answered if we abandon our sense of independent strife to achieve and instead look at shifting our focus first.  Jesus shows his good friend and disciple Peter what this means in the event where they both walk on water:

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![b]”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Matthew 14:22-33 – NLT

In verse 29, Peter takes that first step to go to Jesus on the water, something he feels is impossible and also quite frightening.  He does it though but in verse 30, all seems to turn into disaster because his focus was on the wind and the waves.  His fear and lack of focus meant he began to sink.  Of course Jesus saved him.  Jesus wouldn’t let him slip and fall but Peter was so consumed by the storm and the waves around him, that he forgot to look towards Jesus and have faith.  It wasn’t by chance that Peter could stay on his feet on a liquid substance but by the power and strength of Jesus that was given to him.  We need to focus on Jesus to have faith and not focus on how we are to control the stormy situation because in turn, it will control us.  Looking around in fear also won’t help because it means our focus and aim isn’t directed towards Jesus.  Since the stormy events in my life began, God kept reminding me of this miraculous event and kept saying ‘Focus on me.  Aim for me.  Walk towards me.  Do not get taken away by the storm.  I am the one who gives you strength to do this.  The world could collide around you but I have got you.  Aim for me.’  Aiming for Jesus really is the answer to tackling our fear in the storm.  This act of faith will allow us to rest, even in the midst of turbulence.

So how does this relate to getting a slice of rest in our stormy lives?  How do we aim for Jesus and focus on him?

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 – NLT

  If we focus on Jesus and aim for him in the trauma of the storm then we will be given peace.  You will be given rest.  This rest exceeds and goes beyond our own cognition and understanding.  Do you not think that this shows us that God is so much bigger than our problems if we can experience peace even in the most terrifying storms and most impossible tasks?  The peace we get from focusing on him surpasses our understanding so that even in a bad situation, we can have peace when you can see that the problem is still there.  Even when the wind and the waves were there in Peter’s experience on the water, Jesus was still present and Peter could have still reached his goal if only he had remained looking at Jesus.  Jesus said:

28 …“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 – NLT

If I give my worries, fears, anxieties, restlessness, situations and traumas to Jesus, he will ease it all for me.  It doesn’t mean the problems will go away but it means he will take it on and lighten the burden.  The burden can then stop being the be-all-end-all to my life because it isn’t the thing that I have to focus on and it isn’t on my back.  Philippians 4:13 says that we can do anything because Christ gives us strength.  This means that we have Christ’s very own strength inside us to enable us to tackle the situations in our lives.  He won’t just recharge my batteries, he will come and be the charge in my batteries.  After all, it isn’t by our own power that we tackle our issues, it is by his power and by God working in us that we gain our strength (Philippians 2:13).

In summary

  • I am really tired now
  • We are called to rest when there is a storm because that is what Jesus did
  • We are to aim and focus on Jesus, just as Peter did when he walked on water.  Jesus is always our goal.
  • Aiming for Jesus lets us be empowered by his strength.  Focusing on the waves and wind around us controls us and consumes us
  • Focusing on God, being thankful and giving everything to him is the key to having rest and peace

References

Psalm 23:2 (ESV)

Psalm 55:22 (NLT)

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT)

Mark 4:35-41 (NLT)

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NLT)

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

 

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Get Out The Boat | LSW Ministries "No One Left Behind"
  2. Trackback: Jesus Actively Helps Me | Broken Believers ♥

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