Peter flew back against the side of the boat as yet another crashing wave breached its hull. That one hurt! To the seasoned fishermen on board, the situation looked grim. Their vessel was beginning to fill with water and only another of those towering waves could swamp it entirely. And where was Jesus, whose idea it was to cross the lake in the first place? Sleeping! The supposed Messiah was fast asleep while their very lives hung in the balance. (See Mark 4:35-41, HCSB.)
Seeing no other option, one of them roused Jesus from His sleep by shouting “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?” Somewhat perturbed, “He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?’” What Jesus said had caught their attention, but the effect of His words even more so. Their response? “And they were terrified and asked one another, ‘Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!’”
Christ’s disciples had made two faulty assumptions. The first was that the Lord did not care about their dire circumstances. The second was that nothing could be done about their perilous situation. They were all going to perish as a result. The bigger issue, however, was that they did not understand the true dynamics of the situation. The eerie peace that soon settled over the Sea of Galilee made that fact quite clear.
A primary reason that we are unsettled by tumultuous circumstances is that we do not understand God all that well. The combination of our natural sight with our natural wisdom leads us to faulty conclusions. We then miss the mark of our good Lord’s design for life on this earth. Let us briefly establish an understanding of that design.
Dominion of the Earth
After the Lord created humans, He gave them a special and unique place in the created order:
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 (HCSB)
Psalm 115:16 also tells us that “The heavens are the Lord’s, but the earth He has given to the human race.”
What does it all mean?
As the Creator of our vast cosmos, the Lord owns everything. From the largest galaxy to the smallest bug, it all belongs to Him. Humans are also rightfully God’s possessions, but He has given us the special task of stewarding this earth. In other words, He is the owner and we are His managers.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and joined the cosmic rebellion, they surrendered both their lives and their stewardship to the cruelest of masters. The conflict, chaos, and turmoil we now see are direct results of that choice. And where was God when all of this happened? Sitting on His royal throne, reigning over the universe. He allowed us to make our choice, but He also had a plan.
Jesus, by coming to this earth as a human and living sinlessly, reclaimed dominion of the earth. And when He shed His blood on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, He redeemed (bought back) our lives from the evil one’s domain.
Those who seek power and control are loathe to let them go, and so the Jesus’ kingdom work on earth also created intense conflict in His day. And that conflict continues wherever His kingdom advances on this globe.
The battle between the kingdoms of darkness and light plays itself out over the issue of control. How does this work? God reigns over the entire created order and will one day call every thought, word, and action into account. At the same time, He dos not control all things. Why? The Lord gave the privileged dominion of the earth to the human race, and He will not take back that dominion no matter how much we mess things up.
For their parts, humans and demons seek to control their lives, their circumstances, and others around them. This push for control reflects a quest for independence from God—the very source of life and peace. Because of the circumstances involved, however, the Lord deals differently with each the two entities. Fallen angels have no rights to this earth, and regardless of what transpires here, their fate is sealed. Defeat, humiliation, and judgment all are in their future.
Welcoming His Kingdom
Humans, while still alive on earth, have the opportunity to align with God’s design, return to His rule, and exercise His dominion. The key is to welcome and champion His kingdom rather than trying to build and extend our own. And here is where the issue of control looms large: When we try to control, the Lord chooses to back off and let us have our own independent way. At the same time, He never stops reigning. One day, He will call everything in to account, but we have the opportunity today to welcome His kingdom to earth and to extend its dominion by surrendering control.
To erect our own kingdoms is to invite unrest. To invite God’s is to bring righteousness, peace, and joy to this earth. If we understand these concepts, the Lord’s Prayer makes all the more sense.
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:9-13 (HCSB)
Why does faith matter? It takes trust for us to let go of the people and things that we hold dear, to surrender them into the Lord’s loving care. I am not talking about abdicating leadership or living irresponsibly, but rather learning how to serve as faithful stewards of God’s good kingdom on this earth.
When we give the Lord free reign over ourselves and our affairs, the blessings of His kingdom become part of the dynamics of our lives. Let the peace of God come and let His calming waters fill our hearts!
The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coasts and islands be glad.
Psalm 97:1 (HCSB)
*Bob Santos has authored several books, and this post is drawn from an upcoming work titled The Search for Rest.