When evening came, the disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.
I have never experienced the thrills and spills of sailing. I have crossed the Irish Sea, the English Channel and the Sea of Galilee when conditions have been decidedly ‘choppy’, but I have never been the one responsible for bringing the boat safely to shore … although I have been very grateful for those who do have that skill. Despite my lack of nautical expertise I do know, from experienced sailors, that weather conditions on open waters can be notoriously fickle: the proverbial mill pond can very quickly be transformed into a scene from Dante’s Inferno. I also know that situations arise where nothing short of a miracle can guarantee safety and survival.
Today’s reading leads us, alongside the disciples, to the brink of the maelstrom. Today’s reading also leads us into the calmer waters that surround and support those who have faith in Jesus.
Although we live on a small island, not many of us find ourselves battling against raging seas as we live out our daily lives … or do we? People talk of drowning in paperwork, being submerged in debt and other responsibilities, being overwhelmed by the pressures of daily existence. Many of us, at some point in our lives, feel as though we know only too well what it is to have wave after wave of fear-inducing and even life-threatening pressure beating against the fragile hull of the craft we call ‘life’. Sadly, not many of us remember to look through the raging storm in hope, in the hope of the all-calming presence of our risen and all-powerful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
As we journey through our days on this earth we often experience the terrors of the storm. Even when we feel becalmed we seem to have an innate need to seek out those bigger and bigger life-threatening tsunamis. But, even when we are most threatened and in the most dangerous places we too often forget the presence of the only One who can restore calm and order, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
As we sail through this life, let us pray that we may never forget Jesus’ presence alongside us. And, when the waves are breaking over us, let us strain to hear Jesus’ words: It is I; do not be afraid, as he brings our storm-tossed lives back to the safety of his heavenly harbour.