Summary: A sermon about overcoming fear with faith.
“Heart of Darkness”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
Exactly two weeks ago I was cutting the grass in the backyard, when, before I knew what was happening—I was literally covered with about 150 or more yellow jackets.
They were all over my jeans, my shirt, my entire body.
I immediately ran to the front yard…
…hoping that they would let go and leave me alone…
…none let go…
…they just continued to sting me—all at the same time.
And to top it off, there were hundreds of them coming after me like bomber pilots on a raid.
It sort of looked like one of those comic strips where some poor hapless soul has disrupted a hornet’s nest and is running for his or her life.
So I’m in the driveway flailing around…not knowing quite what to do…
If I try and brush the yellow jackets with my hands—they sting my hands…
And they keep coming.
The next day a friend told me the reason for this is that once a yellow jacket stings you—that stinger becomes a homing device for the next yellow jacket…
…it’s a target for ‘em…
… “sting him there!!!”
They are relentless little yellow things.
Anyhow, a friend of ours is in our garage, and I start calling to her: “Help! I gotta get these bees off of me.”
The next thing I know, I’m looking down at the bees which are attacking my body and I get hit with THIS!!!
Our friend threw this plastic fish at me that Mary Ellen used to play in the sand last year at the ocean!
How in the world was this going to be of any help?
In bewilderment I called out, “Throw me a broom! Please throw me a broom so I can get these things off me!!!”
We laughed about it later, our friend telling me, “I panicked. So I picked up the first thing I could—which happened to be the plastic fish—and threw it at you.”
Panic and fear cause us to do many things which don’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense.
Fear can reek havoc on our lives and cause us to move into fight or flight mode.
Sometimes we retreat to our shells…to the places that are familiar and comfortable…and oftentimes we stay there…
…shaking in our boots…
…accomplishing nothing and wasting precious time and talent.
And what for?
To what end?
We are often like the man in the parable of the talents who buried his talents in the ground for fear of the Master.
In the end he lost them all!
In our Gospel Lesson we are told that the disciples are in their boat while Jesus is up on a mountainside praying.
When it begins to get dark the winds pick up a bit and blow against the boatload of disciples.
This is a pretty normal occurrence.
Most of us have times when we are hit by something which is contrary to what we are trying to do.
The source of the contrary wind doesn’t matter so much—it’s how we handle the contrary wind that matters.
That’s where fear, anxiety and panic come into play.
What contrary winds do you fear?
What is pushing against you that is putting you in fight, flight or “crawl in my shell” mode?
Our faith in Christ is what enables us to overcome—even when the wind is trying to blow us in a different direction!
Look what happens in our Gospel Lesson, Jesus is coming toward the boat—walking on water.
That means that Jesus is totally at ease—totally in control—completely confident that His fate rests in the Father’s hands.
Jesus is devoid of fear!
Of course, Jesus’ confidence initially scares the disciples nearly to death!!!
Since no one else on earth has ever been so fearless/so filled with faith and confidence as to be able to walk on water—they are sure they are seeing a ghost!!!
In verse 26 we are told that the disciples were “terrified” and that they “cried out in fear.”
What a horrible place to be.
That is the Heart of Darkness!!!
Fear is our greatest enemy.
It is what starts wars.
It’s what causes us to fight saying: “This is mine! I’m not going to share!”
It causes paranoia, mental disabilities, and gets in the way of our ability to have life and life abundantly!!!
It’s also totally ridiculous!!!
It makes no rational sense.
Anyhow, faith is what enables us to face our fears head-on and overcome!!!
And the disciples had faith in Jesus.
So when Jesus walks up to them and immediately says: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,” the disciples’ fear is settled.
Although the wind is probably still kickin’ up—they are calm and at peace!!!