He Leads Us in His Rest
And he said to them, "Where is your faith?" Luke 8:25
We must learn never to make any excuse for ourselves that gives us a justification to panic. Jesus relentlessly demanded faith at all times from his disciples. The beautiful conclusion that can be deduced from this truth is that, with Christ, there really never is a true reason not to have a faith that manifests itself practically in not panicking. “But we are in the face of death!” So were the disciples, and Jesus still rebuked them and asked “where is your faith?” “But we are professional fishermen and we know storms, and there was no getting out of this one.” That’s right as far as it is reasoned without Jesus, but with Jesus present the rebuke still comes to us just as strongly. And if there is always a reason to have faith in any circumstance, the implication is that there is always a reason to rest, like Jesus, amidst any storm.
We must always comfort ourselves, not with possible outcomes to our circumstances, but with the attitude that Jesus himself takes toward our circumstances. If our reasoning goes toward our desired outcome, and our heart gets set on it, immediately our panicky mind will work its way back toward the “how” that will lead to that outcome. Our thoughts will therefore be on the oars, or the sail, or blaming those around us for not doing their job. Ultimately we will set ourselves right up against Jesus, humanistically making our worry the measure of the situation, rebuking Him for not being worried enough! “Master, we are perishing…” as if Jesus didn’t care, or didn’t know. The strength to rest in the midst of storms comes not from playing out certain outcomes, but from measuring the situation according to the fact of Jesus resting. That he is resting means there must be no true reason to be afraid.
Jesus disciples even knew the outcome — “let us go across to the other side of the lake,” and yet still panicked. Jesus might want you to make it through a particular trial, he might will for your marriage to be restored or your family member to be at peace with you, but even that knowledge is not enough to sustain the human heart from panic while the marriage falls apart or while the tension is occurring at that family party. The rest comes from looking to Jesus in his rest NOW. Jesus, asleep on the boat, was sending his disciples a message—“This is my attitude toward all that you are afraid of, therefore it ought to be yours too.” Jesus was not just sleeping, he was leading them in rest.
What might Jesus have wanted them to actually do? What would a faith-filled response have looked like to which Jesus might have congratulated them, “well done, you have shown much faith?” It would sound very spiritual to say, “lay down with Jesus in the boat.” But I think that a very impractical and improbable answer. What would he have wanted? For them to wake him up right away, at first sign of trouble, and ask him to give them his rest before they do anything. A mature Christian is not one who rows and rows with his own strength until finally the trouble seems unconquerable, but rather one who wakes up Jesus at the first sign of trouble. So often we are rowing in storms thinking that we are heroic victims paying the price to really help God when in fact we are only victims of our pride for waiting so long to wake Jesus up! Wake him up with faith! Cry out with confidence! Beat your chest in humility! Shake yourself from the dust of faithlessness! If there is any fear may it be fear to face any trouble on our own. Call upon him in a day of trouble and he will answer you and you will glorify him.
Now put yourself into Jesus’ place. In his rest he bore criticism—The disciples essentially rebuked him for his rest. For the man of faith who leads others in faith there will always be those critics trying to shake you from your slumber. “They are threatening to close the church down if we preach such and such a message, wake up and do something!” If we respond with panic, panic will spread like a forest fire. Once in a tense moment, after trying to work through a difficult situation, I was driving my car nervously drumming my fingers. My wife has learned that this is what I do when I am internally panicking. After 5 minutes or so of silent drumming she reached over and grabbed my hands and stopped me—and it struck me. Perhaps those whom I am leading are panicking because I am panicking. I still have not learned to lead in rest like Christ because I am still internally trying to wake Christ up that he may join me in my panic. Perhaps I need Jesus’ rebuke, “where is your faith.” May the Lord close down our churches, shut down our businesses, and kill us off before we are shaken out of the conviction to measure every situation according to Jesus’ rest.