February 12, 2013

In The Middle Of The Lake At Night

One day a photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a large and devastating forest fire. Smoke at the scene hampered him and he asked his home office to hire a plane. Once the arrangements were made he was told to go at once to a nearby airport, where the plane would be waiting. When he arrived at the airport, he saw that a plane was warming up near the runway. He head over the plane as quickly as he could, jumped in with equipment in hand and frantically yelled, "Let’s go! Let’s go!" The pilot hit the throttle and within seconds they were airborne  As the photographic begin to set up his equipment he told the pilot to "Fly over the north side of the fire, and make three or four low level passes." The pilot looking deeply confused asked "Why?"

"Because that is the best angle to take pictures," cried the photographer. "I’m a photographer and photographers take pictures!" After a pause the pilot said, "You mean you’re not the fight instructor?"

In this situation the photographer and the student pilot clearly erred in judgement. They found themselves in a very dangerous and very stressful situation because they did not take a moment to make sure they were doing what they were supposed to be doing.

There is something natural in assuming when things are going wrong, we have made a misstep. I know whenever things get stressful or messy in my life I start to wonder; where did I go wrong? However as we turn to our fifth sign in the Gospel of John I believe we are encouraged to see things differently.

I want us to reflect a little on what is going on in this story. The disciples are in the middle of the lake of Galilee fighting a cross wind that is making moving to the side of the lake very difficult. According to John the disciples had only made it a few miles after a number of hours. If the wind was working with them they easily would have made it across by now.

I neither want to overplay what is happening, or downplay it. The disciples are straining against high winds and waves blowing in the wrong direction. They are not in any immediate danger of sinking; they are just having a lot of difficulty. However the Sea of Galilee is notorious for sudden storms because of shifting winds. The disciples would rather not be stuck in the lake because the weather could turn much worse at any time.

Given the trouble they are having maybe we would be justified in assuming that the disciples erred in their decision to cross the lake. That they were somehow outside of the will of God, or that they had in some way disobeyed Jesus. God certainly has caused storms both real and metaphorical because people have disobeyed. Jonah is an excellent example of just that.

But that simply is not the case here for the disciples. Looking at this same story as Mark tells is we gather a little more information. ‘Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray’

The disciples are exactly where Jesus told them to be, and yet they were struggling. But it was in that struggle that something amazing happened. Jesus appeared to them and reveled himself walking on the water. 

If you find yourself struggling today, trying to push against the wind and the waves feeling like you are going nowhere and wondering where you went wrong. I want you to start to scan the horizon; don't look for the shore instead look at the water. You just might notice Jesus walking towards you ready to reveal himself more powerfully in your life than you ever expected.

Maybe the struggle you are having will be an opportunity for God to reveal himself to you today.