“Turn right here,” said a very patient father to his teenage son who was learning to drive.
“My bad,” the father said calmly. “I meant the next street, not this fellow’s lawn.”
When my own teens were learning to drive, I always tried to act calm as I sat helplessly in the passenger seat while we sped down rural roads, city streets and interstate highways. But I’d have to confess I didn’t always pull it off. It’s not easy to stay calm with a new driver at the wheel.
Of course, that pales in comparison to the kind of nerve-racking circumstances we can find ourselves in in this world. Yet, the Lord encourages us to remain calm, no matter what we’re facing.
The Gospel of Mark records a time when Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee with his disciples. He had laid down in the back of the boat for a nap when a violent storm arose. Strong wind blew up big waves and water splashed over the gunnels. The disciples were horribly frightened, and they woke Jesus up.
“Master, carest not that we perish? And Jesus arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, peace, be still. And the wind ceased and the there was a great calm. And he said until them, why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?” (Mark 4: 35-41).
The disciples faith faded in the middle of that storm. They were so fearful that they lost sight that the Lord was traveling with them, that there was no safer place for them to be than in that boat with the Savior.
To be clear, there is a difference between healthy fear and unhealthy fear. Healthy fear can keep us from doing things that could put in jeopardy, like walking too close to the edge of a cliff. Unhealthy fear will paralyze us so that we become unable do even the things that the Lord would have us do, like stand up in front of a congregation and preach or sing or teach.
Faith is an effective antidote to fear. When we have faith to know God is in the boat with us, we have no reason to fear. But when it’s not a boat, but a car, and it’s our teenager behind the wheel, it’s probably OK to be a little nervous.
Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at email@example.com.