August 7, 2020
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.
When I decided to get serious about my mental and spiritual health, I knew I would need help – beyond the tireless love and support of my friends and family. So, I started seeing two people regularly. One is a therapist, and although she has a strong foundation of faith in God, we don’t specifically talk about faith in our sessions. Neither do we avoid the topic of how God is working in my life – it’s just not always the focus. The second person I meet with regularly is a spiritual director. His goal is to ONLY talk about where God is working in my life. Regardless of where we start, we try to work our way to where God and that issue, topic, or relationship intersect. The question, “What do you think God is doing there?” always brings a new perspective to whatever is on my mind.
I share that habit in order to explain that several times a month, I take a deep dive into the mess of my past and present. One of the most important revelations of those deep dives is that God is consistently working in the midst of my messes. I spent most of my life assuming that God was working DESPITE the disruption and distraction in my life. But I now have two consistent voices telling me to look at what feels confusing or wrong, and see how God is using it. That is in stark contrast to my tendency, which is to ignore or squash discomfort and get on to what I assume I should be doing instead.
We see a similar message in this story. The disciples assumed that they would row across the lake and Jesus would meet them at their destination. They were rowing and rowing – trying to get to the point where they could safely meet Jesus and get back to being disciples. But it is actually in the midst of their storm where Jesus is making them into better disciples. He is teaching them about faith, trust, and most importantly, he is teaching them about who he is! He even says it. “It is I”. Think of all that statement indicates. He is able to walk on the water. He meets them 4 miles away from their departure point. In other gospels, he calms the waves. He takes away their fear. He gets them safely to shore.
While many of those parts of who Jesus is were evident to the disciples at other times, you can bet they got the message when he communicated it in the middle of the night, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the storm. The same is true for you and I. God reveals himself to us in the middle of our storms. Sometimes it’s because we are more ready to listen, sometimes it’s because he is able to reveal who he is more fully. In either case, take time in the middle of your storm to look for God, and see him revealed for who he really is.