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Ever Been at Sea in a Rowboat?

I've never been at sea in a rowboat. I imagine it's not the most tranquil experience, especially when the weather doesn't feel like cooperating, you're exhausted, maybe a tad hangry, it's getting dark, and the waves are all against you. Just a guess.

I have, however, had not-so-tranquil experiences when circumstances didn't feel like cooperating, I was exhausted, maybe even a tad hangry, things were looking bleak and everything seemed against me. In those times, maybe part of me wished that Jesus would swoop down and rescue me from what felt like an intolerable struggle.

Put yourselves in a rowboat with the disciples in Mark 6. Jesus isn't with them—he sent them ahead onto the sea while he hung back to pray. But sometime during the night, he comes walking on the water while they struggle against what the scriptures depict as an uncooperative wind. Here's the fun part: Mark says that Jesus "would have passed by them," but when they cry out to him, he makes a course correction. He encourages them, talks with them, climbs aboard, and then...

The wind stops.

Take a second to think about those implications. Jesus saw the disciples struggling on their own and he did not drop everything and sprint to the boat to silence the wind and waves so his disciples wouldn't break a sweat. He wasn't hovering, waiting to intervene at the first sign of struggle like a helicopter Rabbi. He didn't impose his help on them before they asked for it. But note: he was there when they did ask for it.

Jesus is omnipresent. We will never engage in a struggle that he is not aware of. He sees every tear, every drop of sweat, hears every sigh of exhaustion. He is walking on the water beside us at all times, but he doesn't always calm the wind and waves just because we're struggling. Sometimes he lets us struggle a bit; sometimes he allows us to break a sweat; sometimes he waits until we actually cry out to him before he shows us what we've been missing in trying to do it all alone.

When we cry out to Jesus, he makes himself known. If we're looking, we will see him on the water beside us. If we're listening, we will hear him saying, "Cheer up. Don't be afraid. It's me." If we're patient, we'll let him decide when it's time to calm the wind and waves. The point is: he's there, ready to face the wind with us. Cry out to him and watch what happens.

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