Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making Headway Painfully

And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Mark 6:47-56

The lifeguards here have to swim a great distance to qualify for the job. One young person told me that the trick to passing the swim test was to swim out far enough passed the jetties to catch the current. Then the current shoots you down along the shore, and as long as you stay afloat, you make the grade. Swimmers and sailors alike know there are times when trying to make headway is painful. Whether wind, tides, time of day or currents, what is sometimes smooth sailing can become a futile struggle. Much of life can seem very similar, a futile struggle, only to lose ground against a strong current.

The Gospel story tells us that the disciples were trying to cross a lake, making painfully slow progress, when they see Jesus walking on the water. Jesus making the impossible, possible. To them he seemed like a ghost, a fright, something that wasn't right in their world. He spoke to them gently, calming them and the winds. Their futile struggles were met, not with derision or criticism, not with judgment or condescension, but with tenderness and care for their fear and ignorance. In the face of our worst struggles, our lost ground and trying to just get across, God comes to us with words of calm and support. God gets in the boat with us, takes our journey with us and tenderly brings healing to all.

Today, I want to be open to God during all the struggles and challenges of the day. I want to remember that God's activity is to climb in the boat with us and bring us peace. I ask that we can all be open to God's presence this day, and God's peace in the world.

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