Fear and faith. Both color our journey in this life. I hope we know ourselves well enough to just frankly admit that it’s no rare occasion when the former threatens to swamp the latter. It’s nothing new.
In Mark 6:45-52, the disciples of Christ have gotten into a boat on the Sea of Galilee to go ahead of the Lord into the village of Bethsaida. Jesus himself has stayed behind to dismiss the crowd of 5,000 which he has just fed, and to go up on a mountainside to pray. Out on the lake, in the middle of the night, a storm has come up, and the disciples are straining at the oars “because the wind was against them.”
You know the feeling, don’t you? We’re in the same boat.
Often in our own journeys, the wind seems to be against us. It blows in the form of trials that test our faith, weaknesses in ourselves or others that cause us pain, bad decisions complete with unpleasant consequences, awful diagnoses, sudden tragedy.
Sometimes we’ve steered the wrong course and are in treacherous waters. We should have been wiser sailors. We should have consulted the Captain of our souls, His compass, His chart.
Sometimes the storm is simply upon us and the most experienced sailor in the world could not have seen it coming. But come it did.
Several of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee that night were experienced sailors, fishermen who knew its every league, every fathom, every eddy. From the sea, they had drawn out their living, but suddenly they are faced with the prospect of dying in its depths.
At around 3:00 a.m., in the middle of that dark night, Jesus goes “where no man has gone before” (at least not without a boat), walking on the water. He hears their cry for help, and he gets into the boat.
That’s the Incarnation, folks. That’s the Lord of the sea saying to them, to you, to me, “Don’t be afraid; I’m with you on the journey.”
On the sea that night, the disciples had lots of fear, precious little faith—just enough to let their Lord get into the boat. Maybe his gift to them was that on that day, when that was all the faith they had, that was all the faith required. Maybe that is his gift to us, too.
Ah, it is a wonderful gift! When we’re tempted to be paralyzed by fear in the face of all that has happened and all that might happen on the journey, the Captain of our souls comes to you and to me and says, “I’ll never ask you to take a journey that I won’t take right by your side. Just let me into your boat.”
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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.