01 July 2013

Encountering Jesus ~ When Seeing God @ Work Just Isn't What I Expected

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 
But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 
Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6.16-21)

I've not spent a large amount of time on boats on the ocean. In fact, I've only spent a very limited amount of time ever on a boat in the ocean... or even on a very big lake. That all changed a few weeks ago when we crossed the Pentland Firth off the north coast of the Scottish mainland.

The swells weren't huge... but definitely big enough to be felt and to toss you around a bit on the boat, particularly if you weren't ready for them. It gave me a whole new respect for those who work, day in and day out, in that sort of environment. It helped me to empathize with the disciples a bit more as they crossed the sea, rowing miles through rough water. I know as we went up, crested and then slid down the swells, more than a few times I had those butterflies you get in your tummy as you ride a roller coaster... or crest a hill a little too quickly driving a car. It wasn't even stormy for our ride... so no reason to be scared at all. I can't imagine what it might have been like in a storm.

So it always amazes me when I read this account, written by John, that John doesn't mention the disciples' fear - until they recognize that Jesus is walking towards them. They see Him doing the miraculous and it terrifies.

As I work and rework my way through John, this is always the truth that literally leaps off the pages as I read and meditate on this account. I want to believe that the presence of Christ, doing the things that only He can do - will only and always ever be calming... it will only ever bring me peace and comfort. Yet here, in this story, they see Christ working a miracle and the result is that they are frightened.

Looking more closely into that word frightened? Well, frightened seems a bit of an understatement when I flip back into my Strong's and check out the Greek. The Greek word used could mean that seeing Jesus walking on the water several miles from shore could have actually put the disciples to flight... rowing as hard and as fast in the opposite direction away from Him as they could. It could also indicate terror, or a state of intense, overwhelming fear. It actually originates from the word where we get our word phobia - or a fear that is so out of control that it totally takes over and dominates when the person is exposed to the stimulus of that fear. 

The biblical text doesn't seem to indicate a mere startle or surprise at finding the Lord with them in the midst of the rising wind and waves.

Jesus doesn't remonstrate them for their fear. He simply reminds them that they can trust Him. They don't need to be afraid by this very big and unusual something that cannot be comprehended - because they can trust Him even when what He is doing is scary. They even risked joining in with Him - pulling Him into the boat with them and the result of that is that they immediately reached their destination.

Every time I read these few verses - the Holy Spirit gently pokes and prods and asks: 

"Where are you, Richelle, balking at joining the Lord as He works... because you find His plans (the situation too scary, too intimidating, too uncomfortable...)???"

How about you?

this week's gratitude list

(#'s 3994 - 4012)

seeing Joe and Andi

meeting Joe's family

seeing my family and watching cousins play and hang out together 
and rediscover each other

catching up with our friend Emily after 1.5 years

Joe and Andi's wedding

excited little flower girls

excited little ringbearer who got to deliver the real rings

excited bridesmaids

a beautiful wedding

hundreds of cookies made

trying lemon zest to find that I like it so much better 
than what the original recipe called for

playing in the surf

watching the amazing power of the wind and waves

getting ready to get back on the road, on our own schedule

anticipation of all the things we will see

knowing when we say goodbye this time, it isn't for nearly so long

surprising emails making me hope we might catch up with friends we didn't expect to see

surviving LA traffic

good news in how Pop-pop has bounced back... praying he stabilizes sufficiently to consider the needed surgery

being at an English church service again... first time in a long time... and it was beautiful

Ten most recent posts in this series: 

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