As a child, I did a lot of fishing with my father and two brothers. As I look back at those memories, I find a sense of solitude and comfort. When I got older, my father bought a canoe. In high school one summer, he invited me to go fishing with him. I was bored with nowhere else to go and no friends around to hang out with. So I accepted the invitation. I helped my father carry the canoe into the water and then I got in as he pushed us in.
That was the first time I ever rode in a canoe. Those of you, who fish in boats, may know that they are a little tipsy if one is not careful with their movements. I was very uncomfortable at first and almost fell into the pond bringing my father along with me. But after a time, though, I calmed down. For once, I was able to stop moving and to just enjoy being in the moment. This was an amazing experience for me. I tend to be very high energy and I am constantly on the move. Even while watching television, I am either doing something simultaneously or just moving. I never learned how to relax with ease. It is something I have had to work at. But my father has always been that calming presence in my life no matter how chaotic it has been.
In that boat that morning, I felt a calm that I have not been able to achieve on my own. I was forced to stop moving to prevent the boat from tipping over. We just sat there is silence enjoying the world around us as we cast our lines in and out of the water waiting for the fish to bite.
Calm in the boat. Our scriptures for today speak of this. The disciples left with Jesus to go to the other side in a boat. But they got caught in a storm and panic took over their every thought and action and it almost ended everything for them. Jesus’ calm was what was needed to sustain life in that boat otherwise they probably would have capsized. Jesus rebuked his disciples because they could not find that inner peace that inner calm on their own. They couldn’t access the teachings of Jesus without his presence. They still needed to rely too heavily upon him to save them in their struggles.
Their faith was not strong enough to calm the storm. Sometimes in our lives, our faith may falter. Sometimes it feels as if our faith may not weather the storms that are jostling us around in life. When life gets hard, whether we are struggling with major life decisions, huge change on the horizon, and uncertainty in our families, death, or new beginnings, then we need to have somewhere to turn to find solace; to find that inner peace that will pull us through. Sometimes we need to be able to awaken someone and instantaneously calm the storms of life and find peace.
The Gospel author is inviting us into those moments of turmoil, despair and peace with the disciples because like the disciples we all struggle in life. We all wonder whether we will be able to make through our challenges. We all fear whether or not the struggles will overcome us. All of us have those moments when it seems as if our faiths may fail us. But there is promise in today’s scriptures, too. There is promise that we are not navigating the waters of life alone. But rather we are in the boat with Christ.
We are being encouraged to seek Christ in those moments when our faith is failing. We are being challenged to look towards Christ when we are in the most need of strength for tomorrow. When we feel like giving up and turning away from all that we have believed, we are being asked to call one more time of the name of Jesus to pull us through another day. The disciple’s faith failed them as they faced the reality that the storm they were attempting to sail through was taking over their vessel. They were taking on water. They were unable to bail themselves out quick enough. Many of these disciples were seasoned fishermen and knew the power of nature and saw the inevitable on the horizon. Their life experiences had taught them that when in a storm of that magnitude survival was slim to none. Yet they called to Jesus before giving up hope all together and Christ brought to the boat, not only peace from the fierceness of Mother Nature but peace from the stress upon their souls.
So today, as we celebrate Father’s Day, let us remember the faithfulness of Christ to all of humanity. Let us remember to turn to him when life gets too difficult to handle. We are not alone in this life. Christ offers us calm if only we seek him. He offers us peace inside the boat of life and he will not allow for the stresses of this world to overtake us. Our challenge is to turn to him as the disciples did on that day so many years ago and to appeal to him for the guidance, strength and peace that we yearn for in life. So go forth into this week with the love of Christ providing that stability we need amidst all the possibilities of this world. Christ promises to bring us to the other side of our struggles whole and stronger than we were before. Remember his words, “Let us go to the other side”. Let’s work to seek Christ and to follow him into his peace, hope and promise for a better tomorrow.
(based on Mark 4: 35-41)