Why Are You Afraid?Fr. Barnabas Powell
My girls are a hoot! But sometimes I have to remember that they are still very young. You see, children can be afraid of the dark, and my girls are going through that phase now. And that means little feet crawling into the bed with Daddy because he makes them feel safe!
Sometimes, it’s aggravating, but only when I forget to remember that I am also afraid at times. Oh, it doesn’t manifest itself like the fear in my little girls. No, it’s not nearly that honest! It usually shows up as anger or resentment or despondency, but underneath it all is fear. I’m afraid I won’t get what I want. I’m afraid I won’t reach this or that goal. I’m afraid that this person will let me down and I’m afraid of what will happen to me if that person let’s me down. I’m afraid! But, why?
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Mark 4:35-41:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
You know this story well. The Lord is in the boat with His disciples and a bad storm comes up and threatens to capsize the boat they are all in. The disciples panic, but the Lord is sleeping through the whole ordeal! So, they have to wake Him up and they ask Him “Don’t You care if we die?”
I can imagine the Lord rubbing His eyes as He wakes to their cries of fear, steps to the edge of the boat and commands the weather to calm down, AND IT DOES!
The Lord’s next question to His disciples is a question He directs at us today: “Why are you afraid?” Turns out the disciples were afraid for the same reasons I am afraid: They were trusting in the boat instead of the Master of the Sea! They were trusting in the wrong thing to get them safely to shore! Me too! I, all too often trust in lesser things to fulfill my life; to make me secure; to bring joy and peace to my life, and when those lesser things or people or attitudes or jobs or relationships let me down, I’m devastated! Finally, in my place of devastation I look up to God and say “Don’t You care that I’m dying?” And God reminds me that whenever I trust in these lesser things and people to provide for me what only He can provide, I am once again brought to the place of repentance to “wake up” to the fact that, despite the storm, despite the weakness of my own “boat,” He is not concerned because He knows His strength is greater than any challenge I may face. In other words, I don’t have to be afraid!
Today, the reason we so easily slip into fear is because we are not attentive to our daily practice of our Faith. We allow our Faith to dissolve into the background of our lives and when the storm hits, we have to scramble to bring it forward! But, if we are attentive enough, awake enough, purposeful enough, our faith will be front and center when life throws us a curve! Then, we won’t be afraid, because we “have” faith! We are Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. This Faith of ours is more valuable than anything else we possess! Anything! That’s why it’s so important to share it! If you had a teaching tool that helped you and your parish share this Treasure of Faith, would that help? “A Journey to Fullness“ is the Video Project we are currently working to bring to you and your parish. But we need your help! Please go to JourneytoFullness.com and make your generous gift today to help us finish this project and share our precious faith witht hose who are living life afraid!