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Tuesday Thoughts 4-24-18

My father has been gone 14 years today.  An anniversary like this always prompts a review of memories, and maybe because there is a hint of actual spring in the air, I’m thinking about fishing trips my dad and I would take.   The memories go way back to the rented rowboat on Killarney Lake when I was five, and end with trips taken in the family canoe up until the time he couldn’t safely go anymore.  I can still close my eyes and feel the sense of peace and well-being of sitting in a boat with dad, our lines disappearing into the mirrored surface of the water…except for one trip.  Lake St. Helen was the destination and the routine was the same: out of bed in the dark, our red canoe slipping into the water with the faint gray growing at the far reaches of the horizon, and the faint lapping of gentle waves against the side for hours.  But on this day, dark boiling clouds began to appear in the western sky.  At first, it was no big deal, we’d been rained on before.  But then a sudden awareness for both of us that an angry storm was rapidly blotting out the blue and would soon crash around us.  Few words were spoken but in a sudden burst of activity it was reel in, hoist anchor, and pull at the paddles with all our might toward shore.  There have been few times when I’ve experienced life-threatening fear, but this was one of them.  I didn’t think it was possible to stay upright with the huge waves around us.  The thunder and lightning crashed and flashed, and I was worried that my dad’s heart wouldn’t take the strain required to overcome the wind and waves.  I thought this could be the end.  That trip has always reminded me of the experience Jesus’ followers had in a boat on the sea of Galilee.  In the story told in the New Testament book of Mark, we see it happened after a long day of miracles, teaching and crowds.  Jesus, himself, told them to get in the boat and cross the lake.  The two or three hours it would take to sail from shore to shore would be their time of rest, because crowds would meet them on the other side to start it all over again.  But at some point, after pushing off shore and with Jesus already catching a few winks in the back, a sudden and violent storm crashed around them!  The waves were huge, water was filling the boat and fear was rising until the disciples decided to wake Jesus up shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”  Real fear, evident danger, surely not a pleasure cruise for resting after a hard day of ministry.  Look at the Savior’s response, “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:39–40 (NKJV).  The response of our Redeemer was not one of comfort and compassion (although he stopped the danger). Instead, he revealed disappointment at the level of His followers’ faith.  I know the sting of his reprimand too, don’t you?  In all our circumstances, just like the disciples’ cruise, Jesus knows the beginning, the end, and everything that will happen in the middle.  He knew about the storm, their level of faith, and that they would safely reach the other shore, and so fell blissfully asleep in the back of the boat.  What, exactly was he trying to build into his followers by exposing them to this storm?  Maybe he wanted them to rebuke the wind and waves themselves, or perhaps a simple continuation of bailing and sailing. It could have been them calmly awakening Jesus to asking for direction.  But I don’t think he was running a behavior modification experiment.  I think he was exposing the spirit of fear.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Fear is a closed door to the will of God and, therefore, to peace. They reached the shore, just as my dad and I did.  They continued following Jesus, witnessing miracle, and mastery over the world and its fractures.  And they continued to wrestle with this issue of fear and faith, just like you and I, because the storms still come.  Jesus still knows the beginning, the end, and everything that happens in the middle of every storm.  What do you fear?  Bring it to him and reclaim peace!

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