“The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “’Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’” Matthew 8:25, NLT
“Although the disciples had witnessed many miracles, they panicked in this storm. As experienced sailors, they knew its danger; what they did not know was that Jesus could control the forces of nature. We often encounter storms in our lives where we feel God can’t or won’t work. When we truly understand who God is, however, we will realize that he controls both the storms of nature and the storms of the troubled heart. Jesus’ power that calmed this storm can also help us deal with the problems we face. And he is with us. Jesus is willing to help if we only ask him. We should never discount his power even in terrible trials.”Note from the Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition
Reflection from Evie, Bible Team Marketing Coordinator
It was the third e-mail in a month from our daughter’s middle school. “Violence has been threatened against the school, but we are handling the situation and the person who initiated the threat is not on campus.” That was basically all we got. We spoke to Els about the situation and she didn’t seem overly concerned. In what is unfortunately our reality we moved on thinking it was “just” a social media prank. We prayed with her, told her to pay attention to her surroundings, and to share with her teachers and us if anything didn’t feel right or she was scared.
But at dinner the next night Els said, “My friend was shaking she was so scared. She was on the bus when she heard a boy say, ‘Don’t come to school during 5th–7th period today because I’m going to shoot up the school.’”
As any self-proclaimed protective momma bear would, I ran around the table hugging her as a million thoughts consumed me. How can we homeschool her? What is wrong with that school? Wait until the principal gets an earful from me! Who is that kid? I am talking to his parents! But in the midst of my chaotic thoughts her sweet voice broke through. “It’s okay, Mom. God knows what’s going on. It’s going to be okay.”
Taking extra time to tuck her into bed that night, I glanced around her room. There were porgs, cuddly droids, and strange looking animals from a galaxy far, far away spilling from her bed to the floor. The half-read giant encyclopedias filled with information about strange looking creatures with even weirder names were hastily placed on surfaces throughout her room. She was just a kid. She shouldn’t have to worry about her safety. I took comfort in knowing that in just a few days we would be able to get away to Disney World. She needed an escape—I needed an escape—from the fears of violence at school. And the chance to be immersed in a Stars Wars land—I couldn’t wait to see her face!
The day arrived to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It was still dark when we boarded a bus from our resort to head to the park. Els seemed quiet, and we thought she was just tired from such an early morning. As we made our way toward the immersive land she started walking slower and then stopped. “Mom, I don’t want to go!”
“What? You love Star Wars. You are going. You’ll love it!”
“No. Kylo Ren is there. I’m not going.”
Our brave, mellow preteen broke down sobbing. She panicked. We couldn’t get her to move. She just sobbed saying, “I’m scared. I’m too scared.” I had never seen her so upset and honestly didn’t know what to do. She was paralyzed with fear.
With a lot of convincing and some bribing about blue milk we finally got her to move. As we walked into this totally immersive experience, I prayed that Kylo would stay in his own galaxy far, far away and we wouldn’t lose Els’ trust. She was shaking from fear when we noticed one of the characters working on a ship.
We started talking to him and I explained how our daughter was very scared of the First Order (the bad guys). I asked if he had any tips for avoiding them while we visited his planet (I totally bought into the whole immersive thing). He said, “Oh yes! I’m finishing here. Let me grab my tools and I’ll take you to the Falcon.” He jumped over the low wall and encouraged us to follow him. “Hi, I’m Immanuel. Don’t worry, I know all the best hiding places. I will get you there safely,” he said smiling at Els. He guided us through the entire extremely detailed and beautiful imaginary world. As he ran ahead to check that everything was safe and then signaled for us to follow, I watched Els’ fears fade. Her eyes began to sparkle as fear lost its grip and enjoyment and excitement grew.
When we neared the Millennium Falcon, with his reassurance that we were safe, our hero left us extremely thankful. (Sorry Han Solo—Immanuel is now my favorite Star Wars character!) My mom in all her wisdom turned to Els and said, “Do you know what Immanuel means? It means God with us. What you were afraid of never went away. Your fears were always around you, but you could get through it because Immanuel was with us. If we are walking with God, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around us. We can be confident knowing he is with us.”
When I think about those weeks and my mom’s words, I am taken to the boat where Jesus and the disciples are traveling across the lake. While Jesus naps, a storm hits and the disciples are paralyzed with fear.
“The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and waves obey him!’” Matthew 8:25-27, NLT.
It wasn’t like the disciples hadn’t seen Jesus perform miracles before that moment. They had seen him heal numerous people, including Peter’s mother-in-law. They had heard his powerful teaching, and they were still afraid. Many of them were seasoned fishermen who had been in loads of storms, and yet it was at this moment that they panicked. It was a fear they knew and understood. So much of what they were hearing from Jesus they couldn’t fully understand, but this . . . this they knew.
What they didn’t fully understand yet was the power of Immanuel. They knew to run to Jesus to be saved, but that deeper trust of being confident in his presence was still being formed in them.
So what about my life? The things I’m afraid of won’t disappear. My stomach still churns each time I see an e-mail pop up from Els’ school. Els is still afraid of Kylo Ren. But when we learn to bask in the understanding of Immanuel, when we know that he has the power and compassion to walk with us through the unknown and the known fears, we can go forward with confidence. We can experience an overwhelming peace knowing he can bring calm to any storm.