Ask Me More: Why are you afraid?

I wake up from the nightmare.

It’s about 4 a.m. maybe.  I can’t see the clock without my glasses, so I guess at the time.Female with head bowed in front of sunset sky

Dreams always remain hazy for me, but I remember what finally startled me awake: my daughter in the dream crying out, desperately broken, desperately sad.

It’s the second time I’ve dreamed about this one baby girl of mine being hurt, and I can’t shake the terror in the night or my helplessness.  It’s just a dream and yet it seemed so real.

I could do everything right as a mom and still get it wrong.  I could do everything right and still I can’t protect them all the time.

So, it’s 4 a.m. and I’m lying there still in the darkness just praying:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus….. Have mercy….”

O Lord, I remember Your name in the night (Psalm 119:55a)

I pray it over each of my children by name.  Pray until my heart calmly slips back into its normal rhythm.

And I sleep.

The next day, my family drives to church and unloads from the minivan in a stead stream of King family members.

But my other daughter lingers, hiding her face, and I see how she’s turned her back to the door.  She’s been crying.

I lead her out by the hand, whisk her off to a quiet place and when I wipe those tears off her cheek, I ask her, “Why are you crying?”

She sobs it out and I try to interpret the shoulder heaves and breathy story.

We’d been listening to the song Blessings by Laura Story in the minivan.  What if your blessings come through rain drops, what if your healing comes through tears?

And she watched her baby brother’s smiles and the way he cooed at her all the way to church and she thought, “What if something happens to him?”

She was afraid.

We tried all morning to help her overcome the anxiety of what-if’s and hypotheticals and the wondering, “how could I ever survive?”

Until finally, I whisper into her ear as she bows her head low….Look, I get this.  Your mom has been a fearful person.  I know what it’s like to be afraid.  But you don’t know that anything bad will ever happen.  You can’t miss out on enjoying the present for fear of an unknown future.  The only thing you do know is that God loves you, God loves us, God will be with us. 

I give her these two choices, cut through all of the possibilities and the confusion, the philosophy, the emotions.

Here it is.

Just this: Fear or faith?

And I think how I need this myself, as a woman, as a mom.

I can live in fear or I can live in faith.

I can parent in fear or I can parent in faith.

The disciples rocked violently in the wind of a Galilean storm on a boat they knew how to handle expertly.  They were fishermen, well-versed in weather and weathering the storms on that sea.

But they were scared that night.  Terrified even.  This storm exceeded their ability and expertise.  They could not survive alone.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

And where was Jesus?  Sleeping while they struggled?  Ignorant of their need?

They woke him and poured out frustration and fear in a torrent of accusation, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

So, Jesus spoke to the waves and wind and they obeyed Him and settled into a calmed hush of stillness.

Then he turned to those still-shaking disciples, dripping wet and exhausted from their battle with the storm.  He didn’t lecture them or give a sermon on His power or His mission.

He didn’t command that they also hush and be still.

Instead, He asked them a question:

Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NASB)

Fear or faith.

Those are the only options.  That’s what His questions mean.

The disciples felt justified in their fear, perhaps.  Surely they should be afraid when an overpowering storm threatens to capsize their boat and drown them all.

But Jesus pushed beyond their excuses and reasoning to reach the real issue: We can’t be afraid and full of faith at the same time.  It’s an either/or state of being.

Ray Stedman reminds me that even when damage seems permanent and disaster imminent:

One, the boat will not sink; it cannot sink when the Master of ocean and earth and sky is in it. Two, the storm will not last forever.

And that’s faith; it’s returning to what I know instead of worrying over the unknown.  

So, I choose faith over fear this time.  But it’s a journey.  I must choose faith and choose faith and choose faith, not just once, but every time I’m tempted to question God’s presence, His love, or His power.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

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