Luke 8:22-25 (AMP)
One of those days He and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, Let us go across to the other side of the lake. So they put out to sea. But as they were sailing, He fell off to sleep. And a whirlwind revolving from below upwards swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in great danger. And the disciples came and woke Him, saying, Master, Master, we are perishing! And He, being thoroughly awakened, censured and blamed and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there came a calm. And He said to them, [Why are you so fearful?] Where is your faith (your trust, your confidence in Me—in My veracity and My integrity)? And they were seized with alarm and profound and reverent dread, and they marveled, saying to one another, Who then is this, that He commands even wind and sea, and they obey Him?
Why it so difficult sometimes just to make it through each day? Why does the road to redemption, recovery, revival and restoration feel so long? Why does healing take such a long time? Why does death keep knocking on our door? I have this vision in my head that I have shared with others. It is our daughter’s wedding day which is just a few months away. As I sit on the front row to observe the ceremony, my eyes scan the front falling on each one of our precious children standing together with their sister supporting each other – all of them. I have purposed in my heart that this will be the moment that we have made it. Cancer will be a thing of the past. The oppressive burden of medical bills and travel expense finished and her big day paid in full. We will no longer be separated as I care for our son while the rest of our family tries to go on with life as usual. But this has not been a usual life, but an extraordinary journey to the other side. The image in my mind’s eye keeps me from focusing on the winds and waves all around me as I cross to the other side. Hectic days as I prepare my office and staff from my departure. Chaotic planning to keep the family running smoothly in my absence. Frantic not to forget a single detail so that our daughter’s day will be perfect. Hoping and praying that it will be just as I imagined as fear relentlessly knocks on the door to my heart. It wants to come in and overtake me. It wants me to be angry at my circumstances. It wants me to be mad at my God. After all, isn’t that what life is all about? Crossing over to the other side usually becomes a challenge to pass from fear to faith. Why are you so fearful? This is the very place in our life that exemplifies a lack of faith. It is the reason that we walk through the “valley of death” and trials of life – just to find our faith until we decide to trust the Lord, have confidence in Him enough to live by the faith and confident hope that we have been given.
Psalm 23:1-6 (AMP)
The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (myself); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
“Yes, though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death” would seem like an overly dramatic statement if it were not exactly what we will be facing in less than one month. There is no other alternative, trust me I have looked. I have researched along with the doctors. I have prayed with the saints. My Spirit tells me from the inside that we are going through this valley but do not fear. How do you eliminate fear when it comes to the well-being of our children? My son will be put in the hospital to undergo high dose chemotherapy that will absolutely wipe out his immune system completely. The stem cells retrieved and preserved from his body before the treatment will be injected back into his system to grow new cells again. The race is on for those cells to bring him back to life before any harm potentially comes to him in his medically-induced vulnerability. All of this to kill the disease that continues to come back despite regular doses of chemotherapy time and time again. From the very beginning, the Lord has told me that our son will live and not die. I have held on to His Word like an anchor on a rope no matter how many times the storms have come and gone. Our son has had cancer four times and been made well. Now it is invading his body a fifth time, so the fight is on again. Psalm 23 has been on my mind for days. The Lord is showing me the way to the other side. I cannot do this on my own. My heart would break and I would lose all hope in an instant. I keep looking back at Him reminding of Him the words that He spoke the night our son was diagnosed. The Lord has been faithful to His Word and our son is alive.
The Lord is my Shepherd. He has been that every step of the way. Not just now, but before we were put in a position of total reliance on Jesus Christ. He feeds us, guides us and protects us along this pathway called life. I do not know that we noticed it as we do now. We do not lack a single thing that we need and are somehow by the Goodness and Favor of God putting together a wedding as well. The Lord has also given us tremendous peace throughout this ordeal. We do not hide inside our home in constant fear or dreading the next phone call from the doctor or lab report that will surely come. In fact, we are refreshed and restored along the way at just the right time as God puts people in our path who care for us along the way and encourage us to keep going. His Purpose is righteousness that is found only by faith in Jesus Christ. How does one find faith? It is not in our well-padded comfort zone that’s for sure. It comes when life and all its problems and troubles become more than we bear in our natural human strength so we must find a Savior and Lord. A Savior to save us and a Lord to give us His Power and Authority to overcome in all situations before fear overwhelms us. So “yes thought I walk through the deep sunless valley of the shadow of death”, remember it is only a shadow because death though it looms over you cannot touch you anymore. The Blood of Jesus Christ prevents it. Faith causes us not to fear or dread evil because now we have confident hope. You will only find more faith when overcoming fear and confident hope is a direct byproduct of faith so it is a process by which righteousness is cultivated as we continually invest more and more of our life to faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord is going to bless you right where you are right in front of the enemy. He is going to use your life to lead others as well. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” (John 15:13) Some time that is not a natural effort but sacrificial one. God will honor it just the same if given by faith. Goodness, mercy and unfailing love are pursuing you. As you take a step of faith, it finds you overwhelming you with the Grace of God as He pours His Favor on us in response to our faith and close proximity to Him called righteousness. Your trial is not separating you from the Lord but securing you to Him by faith. It also says that He anoints our head with oil. Here is an interesting fact: “It is difficult for those living in a temperate climate to appreciate, but it was customary in hot climates to anoint the body with oil to protect it from excessive perspiration. When mixed with perfume, the oil imparted a delightfully refreshing and invigorating sensation. Athletes anointed their bodies as a matter of course before running a race. As the body, therefore, anointed with oil was refreshed, invigorated, and better fitted for action, so the Lord would anoint His “sheep” with the Holy Spirit, Whom oil symbolizes, to fit them to engage more freely in His service and run in the way He directs—in heavenly fellowship with Him.” (Footnote from AMP for Psalm 23:5) God did not just spring this on you, but has given you His Spirit. You are well-equipped to make it to the other side if only you are willing to go.
Luke 8:22-25 (MESSAGE)
One day he and his disciples got in a boat. “Let’s cross the lake,” he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!” They did it. The lake became smooth as glass. Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”
They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!”
In Luke 8, there are several faith encounters beginning with the first on the lake. While crossing over the lake (as the Lord instructed), the disciples are faced with a terrible storm. They are afraid the ship will sink and they are going to die so they go “wake up” Jesus. Jesus gets up tells the storm, “Silence” and “Quiet down!” They do. Then He asks His Disciples the pivotal question, “Why can’t you trust me?” When they saw Him sleeping after following Him all this time and witnessing miracles, they still didn’t believe. They knew His Name was Jesus but were not fully convinced in “Who” He was. The Children of Israel wandered for forty years before entering their promise looking for this thing called faith. But fear overtook them and those who came out of Egypt for the most part did not make it into the Promised Land dying before they ever reached the other side. Jesus Christ came to be our example of God’s Love and His Word active in human form. When Jesus died and resurrected, it made it possible for the Spirit of God to enter our bodies and make us His Children now and forever. Faith makes this all possible. But how many people really believe? Does your life exemplify faith in God, Jesus Christ and His Spirit? If not, then there will be more crossings in your life? Why? God will stop at nothing to find you. Jesus died so you could be in right-standing once more. His Grace enables your faith to have the power to make hope a reality in your life. Now you must overcome fear to find it.
On the other side of the lake, they were met with a legion of demons. (Luke 8:26-39) Jesus cast out the demons but it caused a stampeded of pigs that ended up plunging over a cliff. Rather than seeing the man who was delivered and set free, they focusing on the loss of livelihood. Welcome to the world in which we live where not only are baby diapers disposable but infant life is as well. Love has grown so cold that insurance which was once meant to assist in better health and longer life has put a price tag on it. The cure to diseases has been taken from the hands of skilled physicians to be placed in the greedy palms of corporate America. The only real hope we have anymore is the Power and Love of Jesus Christ and His Passion for His People. But we would rather live with the devil than take a chance on an angel or even the Savior of the World. In fear, the men and women sent Jesus and the disciples away. When the man who was delivered asked to go, Jesus told him “Go back home and tell everyone what God has done for you.” This man would become a true disciple.
On the other side of the lack, Jesus was met by Jairus whose only daughter was very sick. He asked the Lord to come and heal her body. (Luke 8:40-56) Jesus agreed. As He made His Way through the crowd there was a woman with an issue of blood who clawed and crawled her way through the crowd to reach out and touch the Lord. She believed that if she could just make a connection with Him even the hem of his garment that she would be healed and made whole. This is why we keep going back and forth. The Lord wants to have the faith of this woman. In that moment that we are desperate to connect with Jesus by faith, we will be healed, delivered, set free and fully restored as God’s Word begins to work in our life and His Spirit changes us from the inside out. The disciples were witnessing all this around them, but the Lord was trying to get faith inside of them to overcome their fears. But rather than witnessing the miracle that had occurred, they were too busy on crowd control. Are we too busy for faith trying to do all the right things and say all the right words? Faith is the only thing that can save us and our loved ones from the hurt and pain of this world as we overcome hell, death and the grave. By the time the Lord made it to the man’s house, his daughter had died. In the midst of wailing and grieving people, Jesus woke her back up and she was given back to her parents. Would your faith go so far? When Jesus entered the house, He told the mourners that the girl was not dead but only sleeping. They laughed at Him. What is your response when God gives you His Word regarding your present situation? Do you laugh? Or attach your faith to it until it becomes confident hope the anchor for our soul? (Hebrews 6:19)
Hebrews 10:32-39 (MESSAGE)
Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.
When we come to Jesus Christ and given the Lord our life, it is because we want a better one. It is hard for those who “have it all” to come to the point of repentance because they do not lack any for anything. But when the soul feels empty, we look for more. When we become desperate, we begin a pursuit. The early believers were plagued by abuse. They were beaten and imprisoned for their faith but something inside them made it valid so they endured even rejoicing in their suffering and sorrow. People as a whole now cannot even stand to be inconvenienced. We come to Jesus Christ by faith in search of a better life. However, someone has made us think along the way that it would be an instant transformation rather than a work in progress. It will take time to get to the other side of all our human fear and down to live securely by faith and confident hope. Like a giant onion with many layers, just about the time we think we are past the tears another layer opens. It’s all good! God is encouraging us to come closer so His Unfailing Love and Favor can overtake us. The Lord is beckoning us to come boldly into His Presence so we will find His Strength and Power sufficient because of His Great Grace. His Spirit is leading us through the valley covered by the Shadow of Death into the Marvelous Light of His Love for us. We will feast before the enemy as our faith begins to flourish no matter what the situation or circumstances of our life – we will rejoice in our salvation no matter how bad things look. This is the product of faith that has overcome fear. This is what awaits us on the other side.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (MESSAGE)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.