Leaning Into Luke
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” Luke 8:22-25
I have been on that boat this last year. The wind and waves tossing my life to and fro. Feeling like I am racing and running around in all directions. I have set sail on that ship countless times in trying to respond to the pandemic and polarization and discrimination. I have tried to manage the sails of worship with one hand while bailing water with a bucket with the other as I try to find new ways of being a pastor in this new time. I have been on that boat prior to COVID when I read about declining membership and budgets and buildings that we try to maintain. I don’t have to have been there with the disciples that night to know this story is true. It is woven into my story.
When has the ship/boat of your life tried to make it through the storm? Perhaps a relationship that ends in divorce. A job where you are unexpectedly handed a pink slip. An illness that wallops you out of the blue. Or just having survived 2020, now waiting for your turn in line for the vaccine. Where do the storms threaten and cause your anxiety to spike? Where do you feel dizzy and disoriented, afraid from all that you are facing?
Our lives are vessel set a drift on the sea. Sometimes the sailing is smooth, the water like glass. Other times the waves won’t quit crashing chaotically on us, causing us to feel overwhelmed and underprepared. I am a bit miffed that Jesus questions the disciples’ faith. After all, I have doubts that rage and run around my head and heart, especially in the tumult of life today. I cling to my faith, but it seems so small or inadequate amid the problems that vex us in the world today. My faith barely helps me get out of bed. I am not sure I will be moving a mountain any time soon. But then again, just being up and awake and alert today can feel like a mountainous climb for so many people.
Perhaps faith isn’t always confidence or certainty; faith is the willingness to keep trying and growing. Faith is acknowledging that the storm is real and I need help. I can’t save myself any more than the disciples could save themselves. Mark Nepo says, “No matter what we’re going through, faith in life means believing that there’s always more beyond the condition of our understanding.” Perhaps, Jesus wasn’t so much questioning the amount of faith, but more that the disciples seemed surprised (afraid and amazed the text says), that Jesus would respond so quickly. Faith is staying open in the storm for that sacred voice saying to you, “Peace…I am here…I see you.” May I hear those holy words today. May we speak them to each other. May we be willing to be in the boat wit each other, weathering the storm of life today. For I believe it is in sharing our vessels of life that faith is nourished, nurtured, and we sense Christ’s presence near.
Holy One, sometimes You calm the storm. Sometimes You calm the sailor. Could you do both today for all of us? Amen.