Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 88; 148, Isaiah 50:1-11, Galatians 3:15-22, Mark 6:47-56
The Gospels contain a few different versions of stories about Jesus walking on water. In today’s reading from Mark, he begins striding across the Sea of Galilee when he notices the disciples in their boat are struggling against the waves. He came towards them to reassure them, but the shortest sentence in this story may be the most revealing: “He intended to pass them by.”
Jesus climbed into their boat only after they grew afraid because they thought he was a ghost. Until that point, it seemed he expected they would be capable of fending for themselves. Only a few minutes away from his presence, and they lost courage and – it seems – the ability to recognize him. When we are struggling and afraid, it’s easy to lose our clear line of sight toward Christ and imagine all manner of horrors are approaching.
In those times, we need to remind ourselves and each other God has not abandoned us. What if – like Jesus walking past the disciples in the boat – God has more faith in our ability to weather the storms than we do? Our strength derives from the knowledge (if not necessarily the feeling) God is always with us, but he does not literally need to be in the same boat. Could it be possible that when God is moving in a direction we don’t expect, particularly one that is diverging from us, we might fail to recognize the movement as His?
Jesus was teaching his disciples more than how to follow him: he was teaching them to lead others to him. He left them (and us) the Holy Spirit, but he also left them with the reassurance he believed they were capable of feeding his sheep (John 21:15-17). It took a lot of stormy moments – culminating in the crucifixion – for the disciples to understand this lesson. If we are to be witnesses for the good news, we must not despair every time the boat rocks. During the worst storms, even if we are to drown, God walks the waters to lift us out.
Comfort: God is with us. Always.
Challenge: Try to live into the spirit of Courage which God has given us.
Prayer: God, I trust that even when you see far away, you are closer than I can imagine. Amen.
Discussion: Are you a worrier? If so, what about?
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