Everyone has one little, seemingly insignificant thing that absolutely terrifies them. My irrational fear is bees. I don’t mean cute little honey bees or fuzzy bumble bees; I’m talking about those creepy, big eyed wasps and massive hornets that lurk around in the summertime waiting to sting someone.
In my junior year of high school I was confronted with my fear when I least expected it: during my AP English exam. English and writing have always come fairly easy to me, so I wasn’t too worried about the exam. I was on the second essay and I felt confident about what I had written so far. Suddenly, I felt an odd rustling in the hood of my sweatshirt. Still writing my essay with my right hand, I absentmindedly moved my left hand up to feel around my hood. I gasped when I heard an angry buzz, felt a sharp prick on my finger, and saw a gigantic hornet fly away. I tried to go back to my essay, but found it hard to concentrate with the red puncture mark on my finger throbbing. God, help me get through this essay, I prayed. After praying, I was able to keep my mind off the bee sting enough to finish the exam.
Writing was a skill that I made me feel self-reliant. I didn’t feel the need to turn to Jesus for help during my AP exam simply because I figured I could do just fine by myself. I came to realize, however, that our fears and insecurities can strike us even when we feel most confident in our own abilities.
In John 6, Jesus’s disciples learn a similar lesson. Jesus told the disciples to go ahead of Him to the other side of the lake. Many of the disciples were fishermen, so it’s safe to say that they felt comfortable with the task of sailing to the other side. They felt comfortable, until the storm came. John 6:18 says “A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough” (NIV). They saw Jesus walking on the water towards them, and they were scared; but Jesus told them not to be afraid. Another version of this story in Mark 6 states that as soon as Jesus climbed into the boat, the wind immediately died down.
The stories of Jesus walking on the water and my experience during my AP exam show that if we rely simply on our own abilities, even in the things in which we feel most confident, we will be let down. We need to give Jesus everything: not only our fears and doubts, but also our talents, gifts and skills. In John 15:5, Jesus says “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV). In what areas of your life are you relying on your own abilities rather than trusting and abiding in Jesus?