Wednesday, January 04, 2012

::The boat::

"Stay out of the boat!" Joyce Meyers

When I was a little girl, one of my favourite sounds was the indistinct roar of the stadium crowd, filtering through the speakers of the downstairs television up to my bedroom, during football season. The reason I loved the sound was because I was not a good sleeper, and at night I often felt terribly alone. By nature, I have always thrived in community. Never apart from it. And there is something very apart about sleep. Worse-still, the exclusion from it. To my young ears, the sound of football meant one thing: Dad was awake. I wasn't alone in my awakeness.

But there were nights when it wasn't enough. My aloneness consumed me, even with my sister asleep in the same bed. I would pull back the covers and walk carefully down the steps to snuggle next to Dad on the couch. And somehow Dad knew that he couldn't be the cure. So, bless him, he reached for his Bible:
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

It was enough for me then. Do not be afraid. Jesus calms storms. He is with me always. Even in awakeness. To a seven year-old, it was enough.

Now I am a woman. And as I have grown, God has asked things of me. You know what I mean. He puts a thing in our minds. And then He sends messages to re-enforce His desire. Be willing, He asks. And we either are. Or we pretend we can't hear Him. We pretend He never asked. And then, because our spirit knows the truth-- that we are in rebellion-- our peace is stolen.

I have been reading about boats again. This time, it's Peter who has a choice to make.
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33
Calm. Again the calm.

But this time, I do not see the calm as the desirable end. Because it was out in the storm that Peter got to touch Jesus. The act of moving out of safety and into the uncomfortable mess is what brought him within reach of Jesus' hand. Back in the boat there was calm, yes. But the better thing was back out in the storm: God's hand.

I have been in the boat for awhile. It is calm. Comfortable. Relatively pain-free. And even though my hands are always busy, they are restless. God has been asking again. Be willing. Get out of the boat, take my hand and say, "Yes."

{Photo: Matt Myers}