A Spiritual Journey/Slice of Life Story Challenge Offering
My Spiritual Journey group writes on the first Thursday of the month.
Margaret Simon is our hostess today.
Our theme is March Spirit Wind.
On the evening news, on the second day of March: We are entering our severe storm season…
In central North Carolina, that means tornadoes. Schools will conduct required drills next week.
Metaphorically speaking, though: When is it not severe storm season? Potentially? Consider this past year, March to March…without warning, we found ourselves in uncharted waters. We faced the unknown. We weathered the weird (monster snow in Texas?). On every side, things dangerous, destructive, and deadly threatened, still threaten, our existence.
Sometimes it seems relentless. Endless.
Sometimes our spirits fail. We grow tired. We want to trust, but we wonder if we can make it through.
So it is for the disciples, when the miracle happens.
The Sea of Galilee, almost seven hundred feet below sea level, is subject to violent downdrafts and sudden storms. On this night, the storm is fierce. It is also long; in the fishing boat, the disciples have been battling the wind and waves for nine hours. They are exhausted, physically and mentally. They know death can come for them at any moment. They are afraid. This turns to sheer terror at the vision of a figure walking on the water: “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear (Matthew 14:26).
Jesus responds immediately: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
That’s when Peter—impulsive, passionate Peter—asks if it is really the Lord out there on the waves, and, if so, then command him to walk on the water. Jesus says Come. We know what happens. Peter climbs out of the boat, starts walking on the water, suddenly loses his nerve, and begins to sink. He cries for the Lord to save him. Jesus reaches out his hand, grabs hold of Peter, and chides him for his “little faith”—I cannot help hearing an exasperated tone, like that of a parent to a child: Why did you doubt?
Here is what I find interesting: The storm is raging this whole time. The furious winds don’t stop until Jesus and Peter are in the boat together. Peter’s desire to trust is obvious. I sense his earnest belief. Peter was a fisherman; he’d seen these kinds of storms all of his life. He probably knew the Sea of Galilee was littered with broken vessels (one dating to the first century was found there in 1986). Peter loved the Lord and knew he had exactly what he needed to accomplish this supernatural feat—in fact, he asked for and was granted the opportunity—yet his human nature failed him. Why?
When he saw the wind, he was afraid (v. 30).
It wasn’t the wind that threatened to annihilate Peter. It was his own fear.
You may know the haunting song that alludes to this story. I didn’t until my musician son mentioned hearing it in a dream. My boy has faced mighty storms in his young life with exceptional courage and unfailing compassion for others, even when others haven’t treated him well. He’s one of the gentlest, bravest souls I know, constant throughout moments of deep anguish. After the death of a friend— he’s lost several, suddenly and far too early—he dreamed he heard her singing in the darkened church:
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand…
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
The storm season may be severe. Relentless, exhausting, depleting. Fear’s going to run deep, sometimes. It’s natural. As natural as the wind and the sea.
Faith running deeper…that’s supernatural. A boat can’t come close to containing it.
Which I believe, in the deepest part of his heart, Peter knew.
Lyrics are to “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United, performed here on the Sea of Galilee.
The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers is underway, meaning that I am posting every day in the month of March. This marks my fifth consecutive year and I’m experimenting with an abecedarian approach: On Day 4, I am writing around a word beginning with letter d.
Note this, in connection with “deep”: After years of drought and levels so low that irreversible damage was imminent, scientists now consider the Sea of Galilee to be nearly full.