A couple weeks ago I was sitting in church listening to my pastor deliver a sermon focused on the passage in Matthew where Jesus is asleep on a boat when a monstrous storm cropped up threatening to overtake the boat and drown the passengers. His disciples woke him and Jesus calmed the storm leaving the disciples in awe and terrified. After all, the man had just commanded nature and nature obeyed! I think I would be pretty terrified of someone that powerful too!
Toward the end of the sermon, the pastor quoted a line from The Chronicles of Narnia in which one of the children asked if Aslan (the lion portrayed as the Jesus character) was safe. The beaver replied by saying, “Safe? Of course he isn’t safe, but he’s good”. Thinking of Jesus being portrayed as a lion reminded me of an experience I had on a road trip with my sister a few years ago. We were camping in Yellowstone National Park and one day while driving to the next attraction, a black bear sauntered out onto the road in front of us. We stopped a safe distance away and excitedly whipped out cameras and took pictures of this wild animal so close to us that we never expected to see in person. It was a really neat moment and I remember thinking how cool it was, but I wasn’t afraid. When we got to the trail we were planning to hike, I began thinking about that bear and felt much more vulnerable without the safety of a car around me. I knew encountering a bear in this setting would be a much different feeling and far more dangerous. This was not a situation I was in control of and the fear crawled up my spine.
How often do we do that same thing with God in our lives? We generally like to talk about him being loving and just but sometimes forget just how powerful he is! God was very forthcoming in saying that in this world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Choosing to really follow Jesus and give Him control over our whole lives is not the safe choice, but oh is it good. He works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), but it is not going to be comfortable. Letting go of our perceived control over our lives and allowing Jesus to flow through every aspect of ourselves can be really scary, as though we are removed the proverbial car between us and the bear, but he is trustworthy. However, I think it is important to understand that our idea of what is good for us doesn’t always line up with his. Paul was stoned, imprisoned, and martyred for his faith. In fact, John is the only one of the twelve apostles thought to have died of natural causes.
Choosing to follow Jesus can mean having your whole life flipped around and accepting that while you might not understand, you believe that His plans for you are good. It can mean having your dreams reshaped and molded into something you had never pictured for yourself. It can mean that you may have to deal with some really difficult things in life but hold unswervingly to hope, because the one you follow is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
Accepting Jesus also means that the power of the one who controls the wind and waves lives inside you. That you are a part of the family of God and therefore are co-heirs with Christ and in sharing his sufferings, we will also share his glory (Romans 8:17). It means that you no longer have to feel that everything is on your shoulders because there is someone more powerful than Satan himself who has wonderful plans for you and what he started, he will finish (Phil 1:6). Accepting the perfect love of Jesus means that there is nothing left to fear (1 John 4:18). He has overcome death, he has overcome the world, and he loves you! If we can trust in his promises, we can say that of course He isn’t safe, but oh is he good.