In the summer of 1975, Steven Spielberg’s thriller, JAWS, based on the novel by Peter Benchley, became a huge blockbuster. One of the tag lines used to promote the film was, “You’ll never go in the water again!” and that’s exactly what happened for a lot of people … including me!
It’s not that I won’t go in the water if I’m at the Gulf of Mexico or the ocean. But when I do, I don’t go out very far, and every time I do, I can still hear the music.
That movie changed some stuff inside of me and millions of others that is still with us today.
As summer is once again upon us, I’m convinced it’s 1975 all over again. Except this time, it’s not a blockbuster thriller about a make-believe mechanical shark by Stephen Spielberg. This time it’s a real-life virus that threatens people’s lives, has weakened the world’s economy and shaken the foundations of a lot of things we used to take for granted.
Whether you believe it or not, this spring season and current crisis has affected you, and all of us, in one way or another. And whether you know it or not, we all respond in one of two ways: FEAR or FAITH.
I consider myself a person of faith and have believed that since the age of seven when I gave my life to Christ. But in the summer of 1975, I responded to the movie JAWS with fear and the ramifications of my response are still with me today. Anyone who knows me, knows my actions around the water are still affected by that movie ... from FORTY-FIVE YEARS AGO!
WHY AM I SHARING THIS WITH YOU? Because I want to be sure you don’t make the same mistake I made.
There was no class in Bible College or Seminary on “How to navigate your church through a global pandemic.” Nor is there a passage in the Bible that lays out a step-by-step strategy to follow when something like Covid-19 strikes the world.
However, there is a passage in Scripture, Luke 8:22-25, which tells the story of a time when JESUS and His disciples were out on the water in a boat and a storm came up that scared the living daylights out of them. Luke says, “a windstorm (literally ‘a hurricane of wind’) came down on the lake and they were filling with water and were in danger (vs. 23).” Matthew uses the word SEISMOS (Matthew 8:24), literally “earthquake,” to describe the storm.
CLEARLY, THIS WAS NO ORDINARY, RUN-OF-THE-MILL STORM. This was life threatening and even though the disciples were professional fishermen, they were filled with fear.
Dr. Kent Hughes said, “It was as if the entire lake was being shaken. As the ship reeled, dark mountains of water on port and starboard rose and washed over the boat. Anyone who has been in a storm and has felt the stern plunge like an elevator in the trough of a rising, welling mountain of green, and then shoot toward the sky like a monster roller coaster, can imagine their misery.”
Dr. John Phillips said, “Soon the boat was awash with water and about to sink. Satan was behind that howling wind and those heaving waves. What a way to get rid of Jesus once and for all – drown Him! The Sea of Galilee is susceptible to sudden tempests born in the hills and valleys all around the shore. The Lord, of course, was familiar with the treacherous storms that plagued the lake. He knew, too, what Satan was up to. Neither one nor the other bothered Him at all.”
Many of the disciples were professional fishermen by trade and were well acquainted with the seasonal storms common to the Sea of Galilee. But this was no common, ordinary storm. They knew how strong a storm their boats could take and knew their survival was threatened by this one.
So, fearing for their lives, desperate and terrified, they went and woke Jesus up (vs. 24). Mark 4:38 tells us they asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
THEY WERE CONVINCED THIS WAS IT! The problem wasn’t the storm around them, but the unbelief within them. In fact, their unbelief was much more dangerous than the storm they were facing.
JESUS didn’t say a word. He just stood up and rebuked the winds and the waves and immediately they ceased and there was a calm (vs. 24d). At once the entire lake was a sea of glass again and His voice rang out across the waters as He asked a question of His own: “WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?” (vs. 25).
The problem wasn’t the storm around them, but the unbelief within them. In fact, their unbelief was much more dangerous than the storm they were facing.
They didn’t have an answer. In fact, Luke says they were “afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’”
Matthew 14:33 tells us eventually they had an answer for their question and said to Him, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM LUKE 8, AND HOW CAN IT HELP US RESPOND TO WHAT WE ARE FACING NOW?
Here are some observations:
1. Every one of us will face storms in life.
2. Sometimes the Lord will take us into a storm. (He took the disciples into the path of the storm we just read about.)
3. The storms show us our inability to do life on our own.
4. Faith must be tested in order to be trusted.
5. You can make it through the storms if you trust in God and JESUS is in your boat. Just because JESUS is in your boat doesn’t mean you won’t face storms. It does, however, mean you will make it through them.
6. No storm lasts forever, but JESUS does.
No matter what comes your way, respond in FAITH, not FEAR and remember nothing will come your way unless it has passed through the Father’s hands first (Job 1:12; Romans 11:36).
Romans 8:28 says, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We don’t ever have permission to live recklessly. But we always have God’s blessing and will always have His help to live fearlessly!
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.