"When it was evening, the disciples ... embarked in a boat. It had already grown dark…. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.... They saw Jesus and they began to be afraid." - John 6
How many things are out there in the darkness in our lives? How many things that make us afraid? The state of the world. The war. A friend with a serious illness. Children who turn out differently than we expect. Friendships and relationships that are not quite working. Our parents declining. Responsibilities that seem overwhelming.
There in the dark of our lives is that shapeless, formless fear. We climb into the boat to escape it and row through the dimness, imagining that we are fleeing it. Where is Jesus? He said he would be here. We wait for him but he does not come. And so we row our heavy boat, not realizing that our little craft is weighed down with the baggage of our own fear. We imagine that we are leaving it behind in the fog and darkness that hangs over the water. If only Jesus would come to us we could feel the peace we long for so much.
From across the water, we see him. Jesus walks over the waves towards us. Our hearts jump at the audacity of this kind of power and we row harder, fleeing the calm and the love on his face and wanting to escape the miracle we witness with our eyes. He is here and we are terrified. Of what?
What if he tells us to stop rowing?
How would we react if he calmed the seas and lit the skies and we saw that the terrors looming in our lives were simply the stuff of life? And then what? If there was nothing more to dread, where would we focus our lives? What would it cost us to let go of the fears that drive us each day?
Don't be afraid, he says. I'm here with you. I'm always here with you, even when it's dark and you can't see me.
He stands next to the boat smiling at us and we allow ourselves to put the oars down. We don't have to be afraid. Life is not easy, but he is always next to us, inviting us to rest in the gaze of his eyes, so full of love for us. The terror subsides as we look into his gentle eyes, feel his courage fill us and realize that rather then being lost at sea, our boat is gently bumping the edge of the shoreline.
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