The Panic Button
Read Mark 4:35-41.
“He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you
still have no faith?’” (v. 40)
That first swing from Texas Tech hit Baylor like a Mike Tyson right cross.” A lesser team would have panicked, but these were the Bears of 2013.
On Nov. 16, Art Briles’ Bears rumbled into Arlington to take on the Red Raiders. With a 7-3 record, Tech presented a formidable challenge for Baylor, which was flying high. The Bears went into the game 8-0 and ranked fifth in the Bowl Championship Series standings. They were gunning for their first Big 12 title.
So Tech came out of the locker room and took a 14-0 lead before the fans had even warmed their seats. For Baylor, “the defense looked lost. The offense sputtered.” It was the first time all season the team had trailed by more than a touchdown.
With so much pressure sitting on their shoulders, the boys
from Waco could well have panicked and gotten themselves in
more trouble. “We knew this was going to be a dogfight,” Briles said, apparently not at all surprised at being behind. But the Bears shrugged their shoulders and answered with a quick score. Junior quarterback Bryce Petty, the NCAA’s passing efficiency leader, hit junior receiver Levi Norwood with a 40-yard touchdown pass.
Tech wasn’t through, though, scoring quickly and then forcing a Baylor punt. Perhaps now was an appropriate time for a little panic to settle in. Not at all. The defense held and Norwood returned the punt 58 yards for a touchdown.
By halftime, the calm and collected Bears led 35-27 on their
way to a 63-34 romp that never showed even a hint of panic.
Have you ever experienced that suffocating sensation of fear
escalating into full-blown panic? Maybe it was the awful time when you couldn’t find your child at the mall or at the beach. Or the heartstopping moment when you realized that the vehicle speeding right toward you wasn’t going to be able to stop.
As the story of the disciples and the storm illustrates, the
problem with panic is that it debilitates us. While some of them were landlubbers unaccustomed to bad weather on the water, the storm panicked even the professional fishermen among them into helplessness. All they could do was wake up an exhausted Jesus.
We shouldn’t be too hard on them, though, because we often
make an even more grievous mistake. They panicked and turned
to Jesus; we panic and often turn away from Jesus by underestimating both his power and his ability to handle our crises.
We have a choice when fear clutches us: We can assume Jesus
no longer cares for us, surrender to it, and descend into panic, or we can remember how much Jesus loves us and resist fear and panic by trusting in him.
"It’s impressive when you’re down 14-0 and 20-7 and withstand that surge against a good team and finish like we did." -- Art Briles on the Bears’ lack of panic vs. Texas Tech
To plunge into panic is to believe — quite wrongly
— that Jesus is incapable of handling the crises in our lives.