Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

06/24/12 Sermon

Mark 4:35-41

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen


How many of you like to ride roller coasters or thrill rides? What's the scariest rollercoaster or thrill ride you’ve ridden?

I hate rollercoasters---I hate just about all rides---they scare me.


Even those that are tame to some can be scary to me----At Disney World in February I rode Epcots’ ride called Soarin'

Despite being about 3 feet off the ground I had a white knuckle grip.

My fear of rides began when I was about 7 years old at the Mid-South Fair in Memphis, TN.


The biggest most visible ride at the fair was the double ferris wheel. Everyone loved to ride it so I could hardly wait until I was big enough to get on.

And I can remember when I first got on how it seemed like it was going to be fun. My brother Greg and I were put in a cart on the lower of the 2 ferris wheels.


It was scary but cool being able to see so many things.


But then after everyone was loaded the man operating the ride hit the lever and it slowly began.

And as it began to turn the cart started to move back and forth while the whole wheel was also turning.


I can still remember screaming my head off, yelling for the man to stop the ride and let me off.


I was also pleading with Greg to get the man to let me off.


When that too didn’t work I became so desperate that I started rocking the cart as if to flip it in order to get the man to stop the ride and let me off.


Well when I did that, Greg who was only 9 or 10 got more scared than me in a different way.


But no matter what I did, the man wouldn’t stop the ride and let me off.


Of course I survived but from that point on, I’ve been very, very selective on getting on any kind of thrill ride.


Now I thought about that story when I was reading our scripture today.


Mark tells the story of the disciples and Jesus who were crossing the Sea of Galilee.


And as they made their way a great storm came and the disciples were frightened. They were terrified as the wind and the waves were crashing into the boat.


They wanted off this ride because it was worse than any rollercoaster; their lives were in serious danger.


But where is Jesus in all this-----Well Jesus is as calm as a cucumber. In fact he’s asleep.

So the disciples wake him up and with an edge they ask Jesus, “Don’t you even care that we’re about to die????


Well, Jesus wakes up, screams at the wind to cut it out and then tells the sea to cool it too.


And then what happens?…….everything became calm and still.


Just like that, Jesus stopped the dangerous thrill ride.


                Boy----I sure could have used Jesus on that double ferris wheel!

Now this is indeed an awesome miracle.

And yet as we read, Jesus isn't focused on the miracle. Instead what is his concern?

Jesus is concerned about the disciple’s faith.

But why????

Wasn’t this a real concern? Weren’t they in real danger?


Well Jesus was focused on a deeper issue than just the storm that day. He was more concerned about how they were handling the storm.


After all, do we always get the miracle of Jesus coming to immediately calm the wind and the waves when we ask?


I mean sometimes we can be going thru some real wild and scary rides in our life and as much as we pray and plead, we get no more help than I got from the double ferris wheel operator who just kept the ride going.


Haven’t you experienced that yourself?


Some of you may be on a frightening thrill ride right now.


It could be the scary ride of cancer, or a sudden job loss, an unfaithful spouse, a drug or alcohol addiction, a backstabbing friend.


Or perhaps it’s the ride of a secret temptation that we can’t seem to get off of.


And no matter how much we want the peace and the calm it doesn’t come.

So what Jesus is more interested in is not just on making the storm go away but rather how we handle the storms when they do come our way.

Jesus wanted the disciples as well as you and me to know how to handle the internal storm when there is nothing we can do about the external storm.

Victor Hugo, who is famous for his novel the Hunchback of Notre Dame, also wrote a story called "Ninety-Three."        

It tells of a ship caught in a dangerous storm on the high seas.


At the height of the storm, the terrified sailors hear a terrible crashing noise below the deck.


They knew at once that this new noise came from a cannon which was a part of the ship's cargo down below that had broken loose.

It was moving back and forth with the swaying of the ship, crashing into the side of the ship with terrible impact.


Knowing that it could cause the ship to sink, two brave sailors volunteered to make the dangerous attempt to retie the loose cannon.


They knew the danger of a shipwreck from the cannon was actually greater than the fury of the storm.

Now that’s how it is with us as human beings. Storms of life will blow about us, but it is not the exterior storms that pose the gravest danger.


It’s instead the internal fear and despair within us that is the biggest problem; because this fear and despair has a direct correlation to our faith.


In verse 40 Jesus asks the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”


You know we often think that the opposite of faith is doubt.


But in reality the opposite of faith is fear…………Think about that for a moment…


What negative problem in the human heart is not rooted in fear.

Bigotry, hatred, worry, resentment, guilt, pride all has at its core fear.


People afraid they are going to take advantage of, they fear failure or to be seen as weak. They’re afraid to look foolish, or to not fit in.

Many fear being alone and abandoned.

And there are also the many anxious people today who turn mole hills into mountains because at the heart they’re afraid.


Some people will scream the same way whether they’re about to be eaten by a great white shark if a piece of seaweed touches their foot.


Very few of us aren’t driven by fear of some kind.

But Jesus says to us, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

By putting these two together (fear and faith) Jesus is giving us the antidote to fear---Faith is the only true way of conquering fear.

-One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to run up to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you."

Well the boy knew he had to jump to save his life. But all he could see were the flames, and smoke, and blackness.


As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof.


But his father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you."


Filled with fear the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you."


But the dad replied, "I can see you and that's all that matters."………………………..


Suddenly the boy’s fear subsided and was replaced with trust as he took a leap of faith into his father’s waiting arms.


Fear is the biggest problem we have in our lives. And the antidote to fear is faith.

But not just faith in anybody or anything. The only kind of faith that really matters is faith in Jesus Christ.

When the disciples saw Jesus calm the wind and the waves Mark tells us in verse 41 that they were filled with great fear.


You see, they saw first hand that the one in their boat was no ordinary man. He was God himself.


They didn’t need to ever fear anything else because they knew that if they should be afraid of anything it should be the One who was in their boat.


And because the One who was in their boat created and presides over all things also cared for them and loved them, they could find peace in their interior souls no matter what the exterior storms were going on around them.


Jesus wanted the disciples, along with you and me, to be free from fear; because when we have faith instead of fear we are freed to be, all that God created us to be.


We live in joy and peace, with humility and kindness, love and compassion.


God wants us to experience this kind of wholeness in our life.


And He also wants us to be witnesses to faith in Christ over fear for others to see.


He wants us to point others to our reliance on Him………………………….

There was a woman in a community who was well known for her simple faith and great calm in the midst of many trials. Another woman who had never met her but had heard of her came to visit one day.


She thought to herself, "I must find out the secret of her calm, happy life,"


As she met her she said:" So you are the woman with the great faith I've heard so much about."

"No," came the reply. "I am not the woman with the great faith, but I am the woman with the little faith in the great God."


As we put our faith in him, relying on his strength not ours, we become genuine witnesses to others.


                They see a calmness and quiet strength as well as a humility that comes from dependence not on our own strength but on a life of growing in our dependence and trust in God.

Bishop Willimon spoke about a woman who was beset with neurological disorder, in pain and requiring numerous surgeries.

Yet she fights with dignity hope humor and grace.
Willmon was so impressed he asked her how she did it.
She said she began more than 50 years before:

Her mother would take her to worship and Sunday School-take her to church where she discovered that God loved her, had plans for her, would always be with her.


Although her life had been easy, truly blessed, when the storm came, she found that through all those years she was building on a solid foundation of trust. That, Willimon said, made her wise.


In closing this morning, the true lesson to us today is not seeking to be free from life’s storms, because in this fallen world life’s storms are just part of our boat rides.


Jesus doesn’t promise to calm every storm in our life. But he does promise to calm us in every storm of life as we put our faith in him.


So ask yourself today, where am I living in fear?

What causes me to panic or worry or despair?


What negative emotions am I experiencing today? Because chances are fear is at the heart of it.


Jesus calls us to invite him into our boats (or our rollercoaster cars) and put our faith in him.


For in him we have nothing to fear…not even death, for Jesus even calmed that storm.


Today if you find yourself in a storm remember that whether the storm subsides or not---- is Not the issue.


You see, Jesus wants something even greater for us than simply a smooth boat ride. -------He wants us to be free from fear.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen