Do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or out of control? As we continue our sermon series Loaded Questions, Timothy Ateek gives us four key truths to know when dealing with stress that point us to God instead of looking inward at our circumstances.
Do You Not Understand? | John 3
Why Do You Call Me Lord? | Luke 6
Have You Not Read? | Matthew 21:12-16
Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19
Why Are You So Afraid? | Mark 4:35-41
Do You Want To Go Away As Well? | John 6:60-71
Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28
Do You Want to Be Healed? | John 5:1-18
Do you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or out of control? As we continue our sermon series Loaded Questions, Timothy Ateek gives us four key truths to know when dealing with stress that point us to God instead of looking inward at our circumstances.
It's good to see you, Watermark. Everyone feeling good? All right. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here on staff, and I am so excited for what God has in store for us this morning. I want to start by sharing with you about a very unfortunate decision I made several years ago. I decided I was going to attempt to drive from Austin to Dallas with two of my boys, who were 2-1/2 and 5 months old at the time, but I was going to try to do it without the help of my wife. Clearly, I didn't have any community in my life to look in and say, "No."
So, I left Austin and began to make my way up I-35, and I was crushing it as a dad for the first hour, primarily because both boys were asleep. After they woke up, I decided it was time for lunch, so we pulled into the Chick-fil-A in Temple, Texas. As I pulled in and parked my car, I just took a moment, took a deep breath, and sat and processed through everything that needed to happen in order for me to get in and out without dying.
So, we got out of the car, and I looked like a circus, people. I had the diaper bag slung across my chest, had my 2-1/2-year-old in this hand, and had the car carrier with my 5-month-old in this hand. I could just see the sympathy on the Chick-fil-A workers' faces. They were like, "My pleasure." It's always their pleasure, but that lunchtime, it really was their pleasure.
So, we go in. Lunch is going great. We're sitting there enjoying lunch until, in the middle of lunch, my 5-month-old does something devastating in his diaper. Like, the only right thing to do in that moment was to do something about it. So, I collected up all of our food, all of our stuff, and we made our way into the bathroom at Chick-fil-A, Temple, Texas. I think every guy's bladder was synced up that day, because I think every guy in the restaurant went into the bathroom at the same time.
I go in there. I pull down the changing table. I put my 5-month-old Andrew on the changing table. I tell my 2-1/2-year-old, "You stand right by Dad right here." I am just ferociously wiping this kid down. As I'm cleaning him up, he floods the changing table. Different number this time. He puts the changing table out of order. It's not standing water. It's standing in something. He puts it out of order. Right as he floods the changing table, I use my last wet wipe.
So, people, I am in a moment here. I am standing in the bathroom of the Chick-fil-A in Temple, Texas, holding up a bare-bottomed baby with nowhere to put him and nothing to clean him up with. You might hear that and be like, "That sounds like the worst-case scenario." It isn't! The worst-case scenario is holding a bare-bottomed baby in the Chick-fil-A in Temple, Texas, with nowhere to put him and nothing to clean him up with just in time to look left to see your 2-1/2-year-old playing with the urinal cake. That is the worst-case scenario.
So, let's talk about stress. I want to tell you, that day in that bathroom holding that baby, I felt stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. I know. That was just a moment. Some of y'all are like, "Been there, done that. Know exactly what you're talking about."
But here's the reality. If you're here this morning and you feel like you have more to do than time to do it, if your to-do list or your calendar feels crushing right now, if you have a loved one who is sick, if your finances feel so stretched they are at the point of breaking, if your marriage feels like it's on the doorstep of divorce, if one of your kids is not flourishing, then I wouldn't be surprised if you feel the same way. I wouldn't be surprised if this morning you are here feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control.
This morning, we're going to look into the Scriptures and see what God wants to teach us about stress. If you're new to Watermark, you need to know that every Sunday morning, you can expect us to study the Word of God. This isn't opinion time with Timothy Ateek. What we do here is we open up the Bible, we read some, we talk about it, and then we apply it. This morning, what we're going to see in this series we've been doing called Loaded Questions is Jesus is going to ask us a question, and here's the question: "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"
As we process through this encounter Jesus' friends have with Jesus, one thing is going to become very clear. Here it is. I hope you don't miss it. Stress isn't inevitable; it is actually optional. Why? Because Jesus Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together. So, this morning, what I want to do is I want to look at a story about Jesus, and I want to give you four key truths you need to know when navigating through the stressful aspects of life.
What you choose to do with what we talk about this morning will determine whether this week is full of pressure or peace. It will determine if it is chaotic or calm. So, if you have a Bible, join me this morning in Mark, chapter 4. As you're turning there, I want to speak just for a moment to a very particular group of people in this room. I am not talking to the majority of people in this room right now, but I do want to speak to a very specific group of people.
A few of you in here just heard me say, "Stress isn't inevitable; it's actually optional," and that actually stressed you out, because you might be here with a clinical anxiety disorder. What I want you to hear me say is: I see you, and that is real. You need to know that God might use prayer in your life, and he might use community in your life, but he also might use professional help in your life, and that's okay. Here we go. Mark, chapter 4. We're going to start in verses 35-38. It's going to set the scene for us.
"On that day, when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them [his twelve friends, the disciples], 'Let us go across to the other side.' And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?'"
All eyes on me. Just make sure you're understanding what is going on. This is a story about Jesus in a boat with his friends who find themselves in the middle of a storm. The Sea of Galilee is situated at about 700 feet below sea level. If you've been there before, then you know what we're talking about. It is surrounded by hills, and with the right mixture of wind and temperature, the Sea of Galilee is said to produce sudden and violent storms. Jesus and his friends find themselves in one of these sudden and violent storms.
Now, I want to be clear on what type of storm it was. It was an "I think we are going to die" type of storm. What I find interesting is that the people in Jesus' boat had been…what? What was their occupation prior to following Jesus? Not all of them, but the majority of them were fishermen. These were boat guys. The Sea of Galilee had been their office for years. Yet we don't see any of them like, "Man, been here, done this. You sit there. You throw that over. This is just what we do. We're just going to wait this out. No problem."
You see professional fishermen like, "This is it! I didn't realize when we got in the boat we got punked by Jesus, but we are here going across the sea, and this will be our last trip across the Sea of Galilee. This is the end of our timeline. It's over." As water fills the boat, stress fills their souls. Why? Because even professional fishermen feel out of control. It shows us the first key truth you need to know about stress.
Just think real quick. What's stressing you out right now? If you have more to do than time to do it, if your to-do list or calendar feels crushing, it's because you can't manufacture a 30-hour day. You can't control time. If your finances feel so stretched to the point of breaking, it's because you can't control the amount and the rate that money is coming into your life. If a loved one is sick, you're stressed out because you can't do anything about it. That's it. At the root of your stress is a lack of control. If that is true, you're going to love my second point.
He suggests for them to go across the sea at the exact same time that he knows an "I think we are going to die" type of storm is going to come. Jesus intentionally leads them into the storm. God will intentionally lead his people into situations they cannot control. If you don't believe me, just read your Bible. It is one story after another of God leading his people into situations where they have no control.
Think about it. Joseph was thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his own family. The nation of Israel… God breaks them out of slavery, captivity to Egypt, and where does he lead them? To a dead end at the Red Sea with the Egyptian army coming in hot pursuit. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel was put into a den of lions. Zechariah and Elizabeth were old and barren.
God consistently leads his people into situations they cannot control. Here's the problem with that. So many of us in this room, including the person on the stage right now, are control freaks. Some of you young people are budding control freaks. Some of you more mature people are in full bloom, and you know it. We are people who need to feel like we have everything in control in our lives.
We need our appearance under control. We need the number that shows up on the scale under control. We need the bottom line of our bank account under control. We need our kid's haircut and their performance on the sports field, even though they're only 5 and don't understand the game yet… We need that under control. We need our relationship status under control. We need every aspect of our lives under control.
If that is you, I just want to gently and lovingly inform you about what your life will constantly feel like. It will consistently feel like you're trying to carry a big pile of laundry. It will. If you ever do your own laundry, let me tell you what I'm talking about. You take the clothes out of the washing machine. You stuff them in the dryer. The dryer runs its cycle, and then when it's done, what do you do? You open up the door.
We're busy people. We don't have time to make multiple trips from the dryer to the couch or the bed, wherever we're taking our clothes, so we scrape the inside of the dryer. Right? You want every article of clothing in one trip, so you scrape the inside of the dryer until you feel like… It's a feel. You have to wait until you feel you have every article of clothing in your grasp. You know what I'm talking about. You know that feel.
Once you feel it, you begin to make the "walk." As you make the "walk," you get this deep-down sense to look back. When you do, what do you see? Sock down. Man down. Now, this is where we display our brilliance. Instead of going and dropping the pile off and coming back for the sock (you guys already know what I'm going to say before I say it), we develop this very noble and heroic mantra of "No sock left behind."
So, we back up to the sock, and we balance a whole pile of laundry on one hand, as if two hands was working for us, and we pick up the sock. Just as you get that sock, what do you see? Tighty-whities down, and that's your fault for never switching to boxers. I'm telling you, this will be your life. You will want to be in control, and you just can't be. Just when your business bounces back and your financial sock is back in your grasp, your marriage tighty-whities will hit the ground. It's going to be this constant fight for control.
I'll just tell you this. God has continually been reminding the Ateek family over the last two and a half months that we want control and can't have it. I mean, we found out we were going to be moving to Dallas in the middle of November. My wife Kat and I looked at each other, and we were like, "Let's go in May. We'll finish out the school year." God was like, "That's cute. You're going to go in January. You're going to get there for your kids to start school on January 4."
So, it's the middle of November. We need to be situated with our kids at school January 4. Some of you college kids are like, "Yeah. You pack your trunk, and you go on January 3." This is not a trunk-packing situation. This is a two 26-foot trucks situation. Okay? So, we make the decision that we're coming, and we don't know where we're going to live or where our kids are going to go to school, but where we live determines where our kids go to school.
We called friends, and they were like, "Man, we love this school district. You have to get your kids there." We were like, "Great. That's where we'll go. Let's look for a house that we will just gladly and easily buy." Zero houses available right now. Nothing for sale. So, that's a problem. Then we're like, "Okay. We're going to get our house on the market the beginning of December. Starting January 1, we're either going to have our house sold or we're going to have two house payments. How is that going to work?"
Then the day before we were going to put our house on the market, some repair people came over, hacked up our wood floor, and then looked at it, and they looked at me, indicating, "We don't know how to fix this." Then we felt like one of our kids would benefit from a learning different school, a private school, so I drove to Dallas in the middle of December and visited six different private schools for my son, and not one of them was a fit.
So, it was the middle of December. My son had one week left of school in College Station, and then it was Christmas break. I was like, "Okay. None of these schools are a fit. I need to just call the public school and enroll him so at least he has a place to go January 4." I called the public school. They were like, "Ooh, his grade is actually full, so we're going to need to place him at a different elementary school until a space opens up," which is a problem, because this particular son of mine does not deal well with transition.
So, for the last two months, we have been in this place of God consistently leading us into situations where we have no control. I think it just begs the question, a question I just want to throw out and I will answer before the end of today…If God truly loved us, why would he do that? If he's good and loving, why would he lead us into situations we cannot control? I'll answer that before we're done.
Here's our loaded question. Don't miss it, because this isn't just for Jesus' twelve friends. This is for us here at Watermark Community Church on January 23. "'Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?' And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'"
I want to make sure you understand what is happening here. Jesus gets up, and he begins to talk to the sea. If you're not careful, you will put something on Jesus that shouldn't be there. You might picture groggy Jesus wiping his eyes, meek and mild Jesus who stands up and is like, "Hey, peace. Peace, be still." But if you look at the Greek, it's the same words Jesus uses in Mark, chapter 1, when he casts out a demon. The Greek of this command is literally "Be muzzled."
So, don't picture meek and mild Jesus saying, "Peace, be still." Jesus is saying, "Shut up! Be quiet! Be muzzled!" When I realized that, it made me think of this TV show that used to be on a long time ago called Dog Whisperer. I don't know if any of y'all ever saw Dog Whisperer. It was this show about world-renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan.
The show was pretty engaging, because it would start with a montage of clips of an unruly dog that would be barking and biting its owner and eating an entire couch in one sitting, and then Cesar Millan would pull up and just walk through the door, and it was amazing, because he would just look at the dog in the eyes, and this is all he would do. He would just go, "Tsch, hey!" The dog would stop barking and biting and eating and just stare back at Cesar, do the head tilt, and fall over and die. It was crazy. It was nuts.
I think about that, and I'm like, "This is the authority Jesus has over the sea." He steps up, and he's just like, "Tsch, hey! Be muzzled! Be quiet! Be still!" and in a moment in time, the sea goes from chaotic to calm. Isn't it interesting that Jesus was able to sleep during an "I think we are going to die" type of storm? Like, water is filling the boat, and he is sleeping. How was he able to sleep? He was able to sleep through the storm because he wasn't threatened by the storm. He was already in control of the storm.
God speaking is what had created those waters. Surely they could be calmed in the exact same way, just by God saying the word. Jesus, God in the flesh, spoke, and the sea became a great calm. Did you see that wording? I love it. It says, "And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." What if that statement could be true of your life this week as you go through life? No matter what is going on, no matter how significant the challenges are that you face, what if people could look at your life, believing you have every reason to be freaking out in life, and say, "There is a great calm in his or her life"?
The apostle Paul actually shows us the way to navigating our path to peace. He shows us the way to a great calm. It's in Philippians 4:6-7. These are two great verses to commit to memory. Here's what he says: "…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Let's just break this down, because this is the pathway to peace. Paul says, "Do not be anxious about anything." Do you realize what that is? That is a command. That is not a suggestion. Paul isn't gathering his friends like, "You know what? I was thinking about it. Try not to be anxious." No. This is a command from God through Paul to us: "Do not be anxious." Don't be. Do not be anxious about anything.
I'm not a Greek scholar, but do you know what the Greek word that has been translated anything means? It means anything. Like, that's it. That is it. Do not be anxious about anything. At least in my English Standard Version, there's no asterisk next to the word anything pointing me to a footnote at the bottom where Paul caveats himself. Like, "Do not be anxious about anything.* Footnote: Except when a global pandemic hits and things begin to fall apart."
"Do not be anxious about anything.* Footnote: Except when you are really sick." "Do not be anxious about anything.* Footnote: Except when finances are stretched to the point of breaking." No. The command is "Do not be anxious about anything." Then Paul begins to tell us what to do. He says, "…but in everything…" That Greek word everything means everything. So, if you can think of it, if it can stress you out, God cares about it.
"…but in everything by prayer and supplication…" Paul is saying if something is stressing you out, you go to God about it, and you beg him to do something about it. It's just good to evaluate. Have you stopped, and have you gone to God with whatever is stressing you out? Don't let God be your backup plan. So often, God is looking at us and asking… If you go and read the Scriptures, do you know what question he asks people a lot?
Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" Just imagine. What if God is asking you right now, "What do you want me to do for you?" Sometimes this is how we live. We're like, "Good question. Let me get back to you on that. I'm going to try some things over here. I'm going to do some strategic thinking, and if it doesn't work, I do want to answer your question, because I think it could be helpful, but I'm going to try the…"
This is what we do. We try to micromanage our own lives and our own stress. We try to shoulder what only fits well on God's shoulders. Sometimes we'll just talk at God about what is stressing us out. We have no intention of offloading our stress onto him. We just want to go through the motions of praying so at least we've done what we're supposed to do spiritually. Paul says, "By prayer and supplication." You beg God to move.
Watch this. He says, "…with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." I find that intriguing, because it feels out of order. The order that feels right is something happens, it stresses us out, we pray to God about it, God does something about it, and then we say, "Thank you." Paul is saying something happens, it stresses you out, you pray to God about it, you thank God, God does what he will, and then you thank him some more.
It's like Paul was like, "Oh, shoot! Erasers haven't been invented yet. It's already in print. Send it. It just is what it is." That "with thanksgiving" is strategically placed. Have you ever, in the middle of your stress, just begun to look back and thank God for what he has already done? When you look back and remember what God has done, it reminds you that God is faithful, and because he has been faithful in the past, he is capable with your present and with your future.
Then I want to encourage you to thank God for what he will do. This isn't a "name it and claim it" type thing. You know what it does? It reminds you of the character of God and the safety that can be experienced in the realm of God's character to just say, "God, thank you that you are sovereign and you are in control of all things. You are trustworthy. Your will for my life is good, pleasing, and perfect, according to Romans 12.
So, God, I don't know what you're going to do, and there's a good chance you won't do what I think you should do, but your way is perfect, and I trust you, so thank you. You might not stop the storm, but you will certainly sustain me through the storm. Whatever that looks like, I trust you, and I thank you." It can shift everything.
Paul tells us the result. "…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Watch this. This is a Bible promise. "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will…" Not might. "…will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Do you want to flip the switch on your stress? Then here it is. Don't miss it. Look upward instead of inward.
We live in a culture right now that's like, "Look yourself in the mirror, and you tell yourself, 'I'm enough.'" No, you're not. I'm not. That is a lie. We are not enough, and that's okay, because he is. Do you know what stress is? Stress is just a red-alert warning signal from your soul that you're looking to the wrong place for your help and your hope. That's what stress is. It's a red alert. You're looking inward. You want to be in control, and you can't be. Look upward instead of inward.
Here's what you have to realize. In this world, the natural response to being out of control, the natural response to not being able to see around the corner or in the midst of uncertainty, not seeing how things are going to play out… The natural response is fear…fear of the unknown. That's all stress is. It's fear that comes from uncertainty of the outcome. Jesus is telling us, as the people of God, we have options.
Stress isn't inevitable. It's actually optional. Why? Because Jesus is in the boat of our lives. The one who simply has to say the word is in the boat of our lives, and he cares. He cares about what is stressing you out. If you ever question if God cares about you and your peace, all you have to do is look at the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is God's demonstration and declaration that he cares about our peace.
The apostle Paul tells us exactly what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20 says, "For in him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…" That is simply saying that Jesus was and is God. "…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."
That is the message of Christianity: Jesus has come to make peace between us and God. His death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead were so significant that because of what he has done in taking all of our sins, past, present, and future, upon himself, suffering the punishment that was rightfully ours, when we express faith in him, we get to experience peace with God, and because we have peace with God, we can enjoy the peace of God in our lives.
When Jesus hung on the cross and declared, "It is finished," it was as if he was declaring, "Shut up! Be quiet!" to a different storm, a storm of sin that was threatening to separate us from God for all of eternity, a spiritual death. We've said that we don't have to be in control because Jesus already is. If you ever question that, just look at the empty tomb.
The empty tomb declares Jesus was in such control that he took his life back from the grave. That's how much control he has. He now has the name that is above every name, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He sits at the right hand of God where he is ruling and reigning. He is sovereign, and he is in control, so you don't have to be.
I really appreciate the disciples' question to Jesus: "Do you not care that we are perishing?" That's why I love the Bible. It doesn't sugarcoat anything. Have you ever wondered that? Maybe you've never articulated it, but have you ever thought, "Do you not care? Do you not care that we are perishing?" I asked the question earlier…If God truly loves us, why would he lead us into situations we cannot control? Here's the answer: because it gives him an opportunity to show up in our lives.
The greatest gift God could give us is more of himself. Do you understand that? The greatest gift God could give you today is not stability in life. It is spiritual sight. It's the ability to see him, to enjoy him, to experience him. It gives him an opportunity to show up and display his glory and goodness in our lives.
That's something we've gotten to experience over the last two and a half months. We needed a home to live in, and there was a family here at Watermark we were able to get connected to that just happened to have a house they would rent to us, starting January 1, so our kids could be in school in the area we needed to be in by January 4.
Those people came and hacked up our floors in College Station the day before we were supposed to list it. Our realtor made a phone call. A different guy came and finished it hours before the first showing. We were worried about two house payments. We listed our house on December 2. We were under contract December 7. We closed December 30.
Our son needed a school to go to. The weekend went by after we were told the public school was full, and then the next week they called and said, "We have one space for your kid." God in his kindness, in his goodness, has gone before us, and he has shown his glory to us. There has been great joy in that.
You might sit there and be like, "Well, you're a pastor. You have that pastor's luck thing. Of course everything has just been tied up in a bow. I need to go to seminary and get on that stage so that everything in my life can resolve." That's not the way it goes. The Ateeks had a very tough Saturday morning yesterday. Very tough. We have some ongoing challenges with one of our kids, and there's a consistent question about whether or not he's flourishing.
Please don't hear me stand up here and be like, "It was stressful, and now it's not, and I got the laundry." It's like, "Please see 24 hours ago." It was extremely stressful in our house yesterday morning. There are unknowns in our lives moving forward, and that's okay. We'll trust God one day at a time, because peace isn't found in our clarity; it's found in his. But God will lead us into situations we cannot control because it gives him an opportunity to show up and display his goodness in our lives. He might not stop the storm, but his goodness might be seen in him sustaining you through it.
I just need you to know that joy is waiting for you not in control, but in dependence. What if God realizes that? What if he cares about us too much to let us have control over everything? Have you ever thought about that? What if he cares more than we do? What if he cares so much that he intentionally does lead us into situations we cannot control because joy is found in dependence upon him, not in control of all of our circumstances?
I want to end this morning by talking about Peter. We're in the book of Mark right now. Mark was not an eyewitness to this event, but the event is very detailed. It talks about the cushion Jesus slept on. I don't know if you saw, but it said there were other boats with them. It's very detailed. It sounds like an eyewitness account. It's because scholars believe Mark got his account from Peter.
Peter was a guy on the boat. And this is just me. I have no way of knowing, because we don't have more information, but I would not be surprised at all if Peter was the one who ran to Jesus and was like, "Do you not care that we're perishing?" It seems like something Peter would say. He was a "Speak first, think second" kind of guy. But we have no clue if he's the one who said it. We just know that "Do you not care that we are perishing?" represented the sentiment of everyone on the boat, including Peter.
How meaningful that at one point in his life his question was "Do you not care that we are perishing?" and years later, he was able to write these words to friends in 1 Peter 5:6-7: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." I know he cares for you.
Several years ago, I was battling some stress and anxiety in my life to the point that I went and saw a biblical counselor about it. A biblical counselor is just someone who listens to your problems and then opens up the Bible and speaks truth into your life. It's basically what we should be doing in our Community Groups together.
Guess where he took me during our session? Mark, chapter 4. We read about how the disciples were on a boat. The boat is filling with water. They think they're going to die. Jesus calms the storm. But before our session ended, he didn't end with Mark 4. He took me to Acts, chapter 12. He said, "You have to see this correlation for Peter between Mark 4 and Acts 12."
In Acts 12, Herod has just killed James, and he sees how enjoyable it is to the people that he put a Christian to death, so Herod arrests Peter, and we are left to assume that Herod has every intention of putting Peter to death that night. Here's what I need you to remember. On one night, Peter sat in a boat. He thought he was going to die, and Jesus slept. Years later, on another night, Peter finds himself at a time when he thinks he is about to die, and look at what he is doing. Acts 12:6-7:
"Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, 'Get up quickly.' And the chains fell off his hands."
I love this so much. Years before, Peter thinks, "We're going to die. Jesus, do you not care? You're sleeping." Jesus calms the storm, goes to the cross, beats death, and then has this meaningful moment with Peter where he says, "You follow me," and Peter takes him so seriously that on another night, with a different type of storm, when Peter thinks his life is over, what does he do? He goes to sleep, because that's what he had seen Jesus do.
Here's the deal. If sleeping peacefully on the night you think you're going to die is the goal, can't we all agree that we probably have some steps to take? We all have room to grow with stress, and that's okay. What I want you to leave here knowing today is stress isn't inevitable; it's actually optional. Why? Because Jesus Christ, the one who simply has to say the word, the Prince of Peace, is in the boat of your life. You don't have to be in control, because he already is. Look upward instead of inward. Choose faith, not fear. Let's pray together.
Lord Jesus, I do praise you and thank you that you know every stress in this room this morning. You see it all. I just declare that you are sovereign and in control of all of it. I just want to pray for my friends in the room this morning, that when they leave here today they would leave with that peace that surpasses all understanding. I thank you that that is available to us today. May we believe it is available to us today no matter our circumstances. It's available, because you, Jesus, are in the boat of our lives.
I pray for anyone here this morning who does not have a relationship with you, Lord. Maybe they know about you, but they don't know you. They don't know how you, Jesus, came and went to the cross and beat death to make peace between them and God. I pray they would experience peace with God so they could then experience the peace of God today. Lord, we need you. We love you. We thank you that you, Jesus, are, in fact, before all things and in you all things hold together. In Jesus' name, amen.