Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
My wife touched my arm and was calling me name.
Well, “calling” is not the right word.
That’s the right word.
We had gone for a walk down the little stream dozens of times. This particular time, our daughter had brought a friend and we decided to stop by the “underwater bridge” and walk through the stream looking at the wildlife and taking another break from the heat.
As we started walking through the stream, I could feel the icy fingers of fear start at the base of my spine. In a flash, I was panicking. I tried calling out to my wife, but she seemed miles away. The fear was drowning me. It spiked in my brain. Everything went black.
In the next instance, my wife was standing next to me, calling my name.
Well, yelling it.
So I can understand the disciples fear. Like a lot of life, things on the water can go from great to terrifying in an instant. One moment, everything was calm. The next? Instant terror. The boat was sinking. The wind and wave slamming hard against their little craft. Their teacher, sleeping.
Don’t you find it interesting that they accused Jesus of being uncaring or indifferent - “Don’t you care that we’re drowning?” I find it peculiar that they didn’t wake him to say the boat was sinking; that they didn’t try to save him. They wake him to accuse him! Isn’t that just like us? We lash out at people who are not the problem or are only trying to help us. Sometimes, we’re like a cornered wild animal - ready to fight when we feel threatened even those who are trying to rescue us.
And just like that, Jesus changes everything. Immediately he got up, spoke to the storm, and everything was normal again (which has always made me ask - did the water dissipate from the boat?). Then, he faces the others with simple, straight-forward, haunting questions - “Why are you afraid? Don’t you have faith yet?”
And, honestly, I think most of us don’t know the answer to those questions. Why are we afraid? Why don’t we yet have faith? Christ has come! G_d’s Realm is present! Heaven is here. Now.
But it’s unfamiliar.
I think that’s it. That’s why we’re fearful and faithless.
We’re grown accustomed to prison.
Even though Christ has flung wide the doors and we have been set free, we’re comfortable in our cells. We know them. We understand them. Even though we’re free, we choose to stay in them.
We’re like the Israelites in Egypt. Sure, we may be slaves, but we know what to expect and what’s expected of us. We’ve never ventured outside the cell of our own prisons. We don’t know how to act. We don’t know how to be. We’ve become so accustomed to our addictions that we believe their lies. We’ve forgotten that our addictions aren’t us. We’ve forgotten who we really are at the deepest level. Then, when we’re confronted with Christ’s view of the story, like the disciples in their little boat, we ask dumbfoundedly, “Who is this?”
While attending a weekend with John Philip Newell about his book Christ of the Celts, I had an incredible experience. During one of the guided meditation sessions, I saw light reflecting off of the ripples of water. This was significant because we were meditating on the words, “It’s me. Don’t be afraid,” from the story of Jesus walking on the water. I had this overwhelming sense that Christ was telling me that he was the Light and Life within the water. My fears instantly vanished and hasn’t returned. Like the disciples, I’m in awe of this man whom, not only calms the winds and the seas in a physical sense, but calms the storm of our deepest fears and bring Light and Light to them.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC