In Matthew 14, we find the story of Jesus walking on the water to go to the disciples. He had insisted that they get into a ship and go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he sent the crowd away. Far from the shore, the wind and the waves were assailing them in that small vessel. Then, in the dark of the night, Jesus came walking across the sea to them and they were afraid. But Jesus tried to reassure them that there was no reason to fear. Peter asked, then, that he be permitted to go out to Jesus. Receiving permission, he began to walk on the water – until he looked around and realized what he was doing. He started to sink because of his fear of the waves and cried out, Lord, save me! In response, Jesus said to Peter, How little you trust me! (Moffatt’s translation) Jesus did save him and they walked on to the ship. When they boarded the craft the wind ceased. The presence of the Lord brought safety.
Where Jesus was, there was safety. Without Jesus there was reason to fear.
This story has a number of applications for us in the 21st century. When Jesus Christ actually becomes a part of our lives – when He becomes the Lord and Master of our lives – anxiety leaves us, or at least it ought to leave us. The reason so many of us are still anxious about things we have no control over is because we have not really allowed Jesus to take possession of our lives. We can believe in the providence of the Lord without going to extremes. We do not have to believe in things like immediate divine healing or our daily bread dropping from the sky or any other idea contrary to the teachings of Scripture in order to believe that God can work in our lives. In the sermon on the mount, where he talked so much about God’s care for his people, there is as much truth for our generation as there was for those in the audience when Jesus spoke the words. If we will allow what Jesus taught there to enter our lives, the things over which we are usually anxious will disappear.
Do we need to be anxious about our lives? The wisdom of the world says that we do. But Jesus said we do not need to be. He said we were not to fear those who could destroy the body, but rather fear the one who is able to destroy both souls and body in hell. Other people have to do with our happiness here only as much as we will allow them. Why should we allow what others can do or say to stand in our way? Now we can probably always find those who are anxious to destroy us, if not physically, then some other way. There have always been those who would like to destroy a good name or to destroy your influence. But can anyone actually destroy your name with the Lord? No. He knows us much better than anyone else can. Unless and until someone else is able to change our relationship with Christ, no real harm is done. Those in Jesus’ day mocked him, they despised and rejected him, and yet what they did to Christ in no way caused the Father to think less of him. If anything, God had reason to think more of him, knowing what he suffered through to remain faithful. In a similar way, what others do often works out to our advantage rather than our disadvantage. It did with Christ. It can with us, too.
Do we need to be anxious about the future? The wisdom of the world says that we should be preoccupied with it. But Jesus said we should not. He will be there and where He is, everything is under control. Whether we look at it from the viewpoint of future time or eternity, the answer is the same. All we need to be concerned about is keeping Jesus with us. He said the very hairs of our head are all numbered. He said God even watches over the sparrows; aren’t we much more valuable then that. Then he told us where our trouble is, O you of little faith. “How little you trust me!”
If we actually believe as we should, and if we keep the Lord with us, there is no reason for anxiety. Jesus took the fear out of living. He removed the fear from dying. He secured our future. Our task, then, is to do his will, to keep him with us, and to trust in him. When stormy winds begin to blow, Jesus knows how to make them cease. Whatever storm is blowing in your life right now, he can calm it, just as he stilled the storm on Galilee.