God in the boat

Today we have one of those very familiar Gospel stories.  On the surface it’s a miracle story: Jesus reveals his power as he calms the wind and the sea.   Just minutes before, the disciples had been in the most terrible storm of their lives. They were terrified. They were baling water, wrestling the wind-whipped sails, and hanging on for their lives.  And Jesus was with them, fast asleep, his head propped up on a cushion in the stern of the boat.  Despite the raging wind and foaming sea and tossing boat, he was peacefully asleep.  Finally, the disciples, in terror and exasperation, shout, ‘Don’t you care that we are perishing?’ Jesus wakes and orders the wind and the waves to be still.  And they are. Immediately.

But this isn’t a story about Jesus’ ability to control the weather, or about his capacity to pull off an amazing fix-it miracle.  It’s a story about how little we trust God when the storm is raging and overwhelming.  It’s about how, deep down, maybe we don’t really believe that a God-with-us is actually enough. It’s about how what we really want is a fix-it God who comes to our rescue. And it’s an indictment of the disciples and of us.  Jesus was with the disciples in that battered little boat, experiencing the same terrible storm, the same terrifying waves, and the story tells us, he was peacefully sleeping and completely trusting.

We are just like the disciples. When things are difficult, and God seems absent, we want to shout, ‘What’s the matter with you? Don’t you care?’  We are not alone with this cry.  The psalms are full of people who are crying out exactly the same thing.  ‘Where are you? Don’t you care?’    Is it enough to know that God is in the boat with us, no matter how terrifying the storm.  The answer is probably no, but as Jesus said to the disciples, ’Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?

Can we find it within us to trust the God whose power is revealed in coming alongside us, journeying with us and suffering with us?   Can we really trust that God is right in the boat with us whenever the storms come, whatever they are and whenever they threaten to overwhelm us?  Because in the end that’s what it actually means to say we have faith.

In peace, Mother Lynda