How are you doing with our Bible study this summer called, The Simple Questions of Jesus?  And remember, simple doesn’t mean easy.  It’s a Bible study but we want you to go deeper.  We want you to personalize every question Jesus asked.  That means slowing down, thinking it through, and personally answering the questions that Jesus asked.

Last week Sam gave us the Jesus question, “Have you never read the Scriptures?”  I enjoyed how Sam explained the context of what was happening.  The religious leaders knew the Scriptures, but they didn’t know the Scriptures.  That means there was a gap between what the scriptures said and how they lived.  Sadly, scripture for them didn’t mean heart change.

To personalize this question, can you imagine asking Jesus a question and Jesus looking you in the eye and asking, “Have you never read the Scriptures?”  In other words, have you read the Bible with the intent to apply it to your life?

Today we have another question for us to wrestle with.  Let’s read the story.

Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Jesus was teaching all day.  When Jesus was done teaching, it was evening and it was time to move on.  And if you think about it from the disciple’s point of view, the day was a great day.  Everything was peaceful and going as planned.  And on that day, calling yourself a follower of Jesus was easy.  But the story changes when Jesus says, “Let’s go to the other side.”  As they are doing what Jesus asked, a furious squall comes up and almost takes them out.  Please notice this, following Jesus just changed.  Earlier that day following Jesus was peaceful.  Now it’s terrifying.  What do the disciples do?  They cry out, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?”

Have you had that experience with Jesus?  You go to church, the air conditioning works, you see videos, you worship, you hear a message, and it seems peaceful.  In that church moment, being a follower of Jesus seems easy.  Then you go home, back into your relationships, and back to work or school.  And that’s when the rainstorms of life come and nearly take you out.  What is our first response in the middle of the rainstorms?  “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?”

Life smashes us and it’s painful, it’s unfair, it’s traumatic.  Rejection.  Loneliness.  Divorce.  Bankruptcy.  Betrayal.  Sexual confusion.  Death.  Addictions.  Abuse.  Health issues.  You give money back to God and you still struggle with finances.  You serve your spouse the best you can, and nothing changes.  You live a moral life and do the right things, and no one notices or cares.  You work at your job for ten or twenty-plus years, and with no emotion, they take your job away.  You pray and it seems like absolutely nothing happens.  You wonder, is God real?  Does faith even matter?  You cry out, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?”

Let’s go back to the story in Mark.  Think through with me how Jesus responds to the disciples.  They nearly drowned.  It’s a terrifying moment.  And Jesus says, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  Doesn’t Jesus sound insensitive?  It’s almost like Jesus isn’t grasping the reality of the moment.  It’s like He is hopelessly out of touch.

What can we learn from this story?  The reality of life is that life is going to get messy.  When we come to church everything will seem easy.  You will see a video and it may impact you.  You will worship and it may touch your soul.  You will hear scriptures and they may inspire you.  And you can experience a fresh start with God.

David wrote this.

Psalms 32:1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be – you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.  2 Count yourself lucky – GOD holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. MSG

That’s grace.  That can be your church experience.  A fresh start.  And then church ends.  And when you leave church, life is going to get messy.  The mess of life will push you to cry out, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?”  It may even lead you to doubt if God is real or if faith even matters.  Can you connect with that?  Is that you today?  Are you feeling like the disciples did when they were nearly taken out?  You may be wondering, what is happening in my life?

I want to tell you something that may be hard to hear and it’s found in scripture.  It explains what is happening when you want to cry out to Jesus, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?”

James 1:3 Under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4 So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. MSG

Like the disciples in a brutal rainstorm, God allows us to walk through challenges in life.  Why?  Because that pressure shows us what is really on the inside of us.  The only way to truly understand what is really on the inside of us is when we feel the pressure of things not working out the way we want.  It’s like a tube of toothpaste.  The best way to get it is to squeeze it.  The best way for us to know our real spiritual condition isn’t in church, it’s when the rainstorms of life almost take us out.

Quick time out here.  When was the last time you felt pressure – real pressure?  Follow-up question.  How did you respond to it?  When squeezed, what came out of you?  What came out of you, that is your true spiritual condition.

Have you noticed that in church following Jesus is easy, almost enjoyable?  And have you noticed what happens when you leave the church parking lot?  In minutes someone can cut you off and you can lose your ever-loving mind.  You can be in the church parking lot, read an email, and pop a vein in pure anger.  You can sing worship songs and minutes later be in a heated argument over where you go for lunch – can’t you?  Here’s why.  Life is going to get messy and it will squeeze out of you what is really in you.

Jesus said.

Matthew 7: 26-27 If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.  “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” MSG

What it means to work these words into our lives is, that when we feel the pressure of life, we intentionally make the decision to respond the way Jesus taught.  That’s how Jesus helps us grow up spiritually.

The great reality is this, life is going to get messy.  This brings me to my second reality.  Life is going to get messy, and Jesus is still with you.  That might be hard to believe or understand but it’s true.  Jesus is absolutely with you.  Remember, when the disciples were almost taken out, Jesus was right there with them.  And Jesus is still with you.  Even if life feels brutal, Jesus is with you.

Hebrews 12:7-8,10 God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, 8 the normal experience of children… 10 God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. MSG

In raising kids, there are rare positive moments that will blow your mind.  I remember when the kids were four or five and playing together.  One would share their toys with the other sister, it was awesome to see.  Karen and I felt like we were great parents – for about thirty seconds.  Then the one sister pushed the other.  I vaguely remember when one of the kids, without telling them, unloaded the dishwasher – it was a mind-blowing moment.  I looked at Karen and she looked at me with pure amazement.  You didn’t want to say anything that might ruin the moment.

How do you know when a child is growing up into an adult?  There was a pressure situation, they thought of someone else, and they did what was needed to be done with the right attitude.  How do you know if your child is failing at growing up?  There is a pressure situation, they can only think of themselves, and they can’t do what needs to be done with the right attitude.  Now think through this with me.  As a parent, are you there?  Are you present?  Yes.  You are absolutely there but you are in the background watching to see how your kids will respond.

How do you know when you are growing up spiritually?  There is a pressure situation, you think about others, and you do what needs to be done with the right attitude.  How do you know you are failing at growing up spiritually?  There is a pressure situation, you can only think of yourself, and you can’t do what needs to be done with the right attitude.  Now think through this with me.  Is God there?  Is God present?  Absolutely yes.  God is allowing you to walk through pressure so that you and your community can see what is really on the inside of your heart.  Remember, life is going to get messy, and God is still with you.

What is the best way to identify a future church leader?  There is a pressure situation, they think of others, and they do what needs to be done with the right attitude.  Maybe it’s a project, a volunteer role, a task.

When we leave church and the storms try to take us out, we may want to scream to Jesus, “Jesus, don’t you care if I drown?”  Jesus will want to know, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  It sounds insensitive.  It sounds like Jesus is out of touch with reality.  But from Jesus’ point of view, He is confused because Jesus is right there with you.

We know life is going to get messy.  We know that life is going to get messy, and Jesus is still with us.  Here is the last reality I want to share with you.  Life is going to get messy, and Jesus is still with you, so have faith.  Take a deep breath, relax, and know that Jesus is in control.

Mark 4:26 Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” NLT

This is one of my favorite stories from Jesus.  The farmer plants the seed, it grows, and the farmer has no idea how it happens.  It’s a story that helps us take a deep breath, relax, and know that Jesus is in control.  That doesn’t mean we don’t live responsibly.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have to brush our teeth and visit the dentist.  It means our job is to live the way Jesus asked to live and it’s Jesus’ job to take care of the rest.  We either relax in that or struggle with it.  And there will be times when what Jesus asks of us seems like Jesus is hopelessly out of touch with our reality.

One of the hardest things for the North American Christian to do is, allow life to unfold.  We have such control issues we think we know what’s best.  Instead of surrendering our lives to Jesus, we take control and do what makes sense to us.  We are so focused on how things are supposed to look – aren’t we?  Think about it.  We want the perfect family with perfect dinners together – success.  The perfect church with the perfect people who come early and do all the perfect things – success, success, success.  The perfect American dream of health, wealth, comfort, and happiness – success.  Why is this?  We want control more than surrender.  We want life to look the way we want it to look.

Please hear me, God might be calling you into something bigger.  Question to think about, what is your biggest challenge to surrendering your life to Jesus?  Chances are, maybe, you are afraid of what comes next.  You don’t know if Jesus will come through for you.  And chances are, maybe, you want Jesus to give you perfect promises before you surrender to Him.  That’s not how it works.

I want to give you a perspective on life.

Proverbs 16:1 says We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word.

We have never been in control.  Today we don’t have control.  We have no control over tomorrow.

In all of our years on earth, we have no control over the big things.  We had no control over when or where we were born.  We have no control over the family we were born into.  We have no control over our health.  And if we worry, I mean really worry, it changes nothing.

In 100 years from now, we will all be buried and not many people will know our names.  We will be remembered for a few years but if you think about it, how much do you know about your great grandfather?

Strangers will live in our houses that we worked so hard to build and spent so much money to care for.  Most of our possessions will be given away, rusted, or thrown out.  The car, the boat, and all the toys will probably be scraped.

In all of it, what mattered was our relationship with God.  What lasts will only be what we did for God.

I close with this.  When you leave church, life is going to get messy, and Jesus is with you, so have faith.  The next time life tries to take you out and you find yourself asking, “Jesus don’t you care if we drown?”  Jesus will ask you, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  Jesus is confused because He is right there with you.