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When Does Fear Work FOR You?

The following is an excerpt from Steven Furtick’s latest book, Crash the Chatterbox.

Storm stand still.

Contrary to certain religious rhetoric, the fear of the Lord is not the fear that God is out to get you.

As New Testament believers, we understand that God has come near to us in the person of Jesus and that what Christ did on the cross completely satisfied God’s wrath against sin. God will not take out on me what He’s already placed on Jesus. So now, because I have trusted Christ with my life, I never have to be scared of God.

What is the fear of God, then?

It is being terrified of ever being outside of His protection. This kind of fear works for us, just like God Himself does, rather than against us. It can guide us and keep us on track when we’re being lured over the edge into courses of action we have no business considering.

But the other kind of fear, the chatterbox kind, is an entirely different genre.

And it takes control when I start giving more weight to my what-ifs than to what God says. When you let the chatterbox take a valid concern, amplify it and turn it into a consuming noise that is louder than God’s voice, the spirit of fear gains leverage. And then down you go, because your heart cannot be filled with faith in God at the same time it’s singing the refrain ‘what if’ …

I love the story of the disciples in the storm the way Mark records it in his gospel.

That day when evening came, [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. … A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 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?” (Mark 4:35-38)

The disciples were petrified of the storm, and they had every right to be.

There was no onboard GPS, no boat-owner’s insurance and it was their boat Jesus had borrowed for this ministry expedition. Their livelihoods, not to mention their lives, flashed before their eyes. But finally Jesus “got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’”

Did Jesus call for the end of the storm at this point because He was moved by the disciples’ pitiful state? Or because He was annoyed that Hurricane Hugo was disturbing his REM cycle?

Either way, what happened next was a miracle:

Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (verses 39-40)

The story tells me that Jesus wanted the disciples to know intuitively what all of His earthly miracles were meant to prove: He is Lord—He reigns over earth, sky, wind, storms, sickness, recession—and there is nothing beyond the realm of His authority.

But after He proves this definitively by shutting down the storm, the response of the disciples seems strange. According to the next verse, they were terrified.

Wait a minute. The storm is over. He told you to stop being afraid.