Tag Archive | fear

Jesus–Always Showing Up

 

Jesus walking on water

Gustav Doré

1832-1883

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.  But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

John 6:15-21

          Why did they do it?  The disciples had just seen Jesus feed a multitude of people with 5 barley loaves and two fish—quite a stunning feat!  So why, after that, did those 12 men jump into a boat and in spite of the darkness, the strong wind and the rough sea, head across the Sea of Galilee, leaving Jesus to fend for himself ?

          Were they irked, perhaps, that Jesus had not let the crowd “take him by force to make him king?”  If he was the Messiah, then why not let the people crown him as their king?  Yes, they knew he kept talking about “his time not yet having come,” but…what was he waiting for?  Here had been a perfect opportunity, and Jesus had blown it by wandering off to a nearby mountain for some solitude and prayer.  And this delay, of course, meant a delay, not just for him, but also for all their hopes and dreams of the special positions of honor and power they would be awarded in his kingdom.   Did Jesus not appreciate their loyal service?  Apparently not.  Well, let him wander off then.  They would simply leave him be and take care of themselves, thank you very much!

          Or were they, perhaps, simply tired?  It had been a long day, after all, crowded with travel and with needy, hungry people that Jesus had insisted they feed.  Yes, certainly it had been impressive to watch Jesus take the loaves and fish and distribute them to that huge crowd.  But then they, the disciples, had had to be the ones to clean up all the mess the crowd had left.  And what a mess it had been!  Maybe those disciples just wanted to get home to grab some much-needed sleep.

          So off they went into the stormy night, probably cursing the wind, cursing the waves, and maybe even cursing their Master for his mysterious and often annoying ways.

          And then that terrifying figure walking across that stormy sea.  A sea demon?  A ghost about to turn them all into ghosts? 

          “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”   The silence as Jesus stepped into their boat and calmed the raging storm.  The even greater silence as those disciples heard his voice, his “It is I,” Έγώ ϵἰμι, “I am,” the very name of the God the 12 had worshiped from their earliest years.

          The quieting of that vicious storm was the second amazing miracle the disciples witnessed that day.  No wonder they were stunned into silence.   But it seems to me that there’s yet another miracle in this story, a third miracle, a miracle hidden within the folds of the miracle of the stilling of the storm.  That miracle is the reality that Jesus came to them at all!  Came to the very men who had abandoned him just a few hours before, leaving him stranded on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. 

          Miracle indeed.  And isn’t this a miracle that repeats itself in our own lives as well, over and over again?  We often “leave” our Lord for a time for any number of reasons.  Sometimes we just want to pursue our own agendas, our own concerns.  Sometimes it’s because something has annoyed us about the way the so-called followers of Jesus behave.  Sometimes we’re just tired of trying to love God with all our hearts, trying to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We just need a break—want to have a little fun in our lives.  Sometimes we may be a bit irked with Jesus.  He seems to have wandered off into the mountains again, instead of responding to our longings and needs, and we are not pleased.  

          And then he shows up.  In our weakness.  In our neediness.  In our careless self-centeredness and forgetfulness.  In our anger.  Jesus comes to us.  Comes to us with his simple, powerful presence.  Comes and speaks the word we so need to hear, “Έγώ ϵἰμι.  It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  

          Miracle indeed.


 

Tiny Strength

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A solitary summer eve;

my world is hushed as fading sun

tucks itself into a bed of lavish green;

alone, I feel the starkness of the

coming night, the sudden stab of

fear to be, perhaps, unseen,

unheard in depth of coming

dark; and then he calls, my tiny wren,

pensive atop his shadowed post;

he, too, alone in fading light, alone but

singing yet against his fear, his song so

clear and bright, his piping strong and

bold, an evensong to chase away the

murk of night; and as he sings, the

ghostly edge of dark begins to fade; the

air around me breathes more peacefully;

and so do I.

Fog

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Softly sinister, it paints my window gray and

drapes itself across the houses and the trees

that usually greet and smile at me each morning as I

sip my cup of white orange blossom tea;

the bright red shovel on my neighbor’s deck,

the solid rock that sits forever underneath my trees—

all hidden now, wrapped in steely shroud so

dense it turns my world into a place I do

not recognize; the sun, the sky, the clouds all

vanished—gone; yet strange how all these

missing things seem eerily more present and

more precious in their absence than when

fully, certain here.

I’m mesmerized by this fog, but also fear its

chilling gloom and wish I could just blow it all

away, as well as every other fog that will in time

wrap round the now familiars of my world;

I can’t, but when the next fog comes, and come it will,

spill from sky to mute the colors of my life, ooze through

illness, other woes, to still life’s music to mere

echoes from afar, or swirl in dust of grief and loss to

blur, distort the contours of my mind and settle

dry and gritty in my mouth; yes, come it will, but

when it comes, let me remember windy joys and

music from the clouds, bright red shovels and

forever rocks, and let me move into the

haze—cautious, anchored, firm; trust the Breath that

hovers close and blows me tiny specks of light to

point my halting way until I see again just where and

who I’m meant to be, until I find once more a

clarity and home.

Selections from a prayer by Thomas Merton

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself… [but]…I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.