I’ve always loved the water and her many moods. I absorb serenity from the rhythm of the waves when she’s calm and peaceful and I’m energized when she’s restless – twirling with the wind. I’ve tried swimming, wanting to dance with the water, but found dis-ease as I was unable to breathe between my strokes. So keeping my head above water, I’ve recently started taking sailing lessons on Lake Michigan. Sitting in a 21 foot boat, moving with the fold of each wave, and being propelled by the bellowing sails, has given me new insights into the disciples sea-adventures with Jesus.
One of my first lessons was how to become one with the boat using my senses as an instinctive guidance system. The wind on my face tells me which direction to steer the boat to take full advantage of the filling the white sheets. The anticipation of a wake from another boat drifting towards me raises my anxiety in portion to the size of the craft. If it’s a small vessel I sway with its flutter. But if the aftermath of a large boat sweeps forcefully towards me, I rock and roll as I pilot the boat away from the swell. Without this maneuvering the boat will thrash up and down like a wild rollercoaster sending this fledging sailor on a white-knuckled ride. So I’ve worked at learning how to be at one with the water, and follow and enjoy the movement of the dance.
The morning after my first lesson, the scripture in my daily reflection was from the fourth chapter of Mark, the story of Jesus resting in the boat during an unexpected tempest. You might remember Jesus was tried from an exhausting day of healing and preaching and retired from the pressing crowds by crossing the sea with his companions. Just as the waves lulled Jesus to sleep, the tempo changed into a powerful storm and water began to overtake the boat.
It’s been my experience that a wake from a medium size yacht can create waves that have the energy of a riptide. And this wasn’t even a storm just a mediocre wake! Here I am in a 21 foot boat with my mentor, another student and what seems like all 1,180 cubic miles of Lake Michigan jostling me around like a toy. So I fully understand the disciple’s distress! I can empathize; sympathize and physically internalize the terror the disciples were experiencing in the storm.
Several of the disciples were fishermen and water was an integral part of their everyday life, yet the storm frightened them beyond belief and they woke Jesus wondering how he could possibly sleep. Jesus sighs and says, “Where is your faith?” You are constantly on the sea and yet when the waters become troubled so do you!” So Jesus with a steadfast wave of his hand calms the restless sea.
I wonder how many times we let the storms of life fill us with fear beyond belief. When the wakes created by others rock our boat – we panic. Fearful to the point of asking, “Where is God in this? Is God asleep?” Think about it – fearful beyond believing that we are in God’s unwavering hand, in the same boat, traveling the same journey.
Fortunately God’s ever present faithfulness to the Beloved is not rocked or moved by any wake, storm, tornado or earthquake that can cause our lives to tip off balance. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38
So let the unexpected waves crest; let the tempestuous winds blow and even the earth – our foundation, wiggle and shake. God will be our dance partner, will hold us close, and the waves will whisper, “Pure love cast out all fear”. 1 John 4:18