Imagine the disciples, overwhelmed by a storm, suddenly seeing Jesus right there to help them. They are terrified to see him. They are working hard to handle the water coming into the boat and the wind and water threatening their stability. They don’t have much time to make sense of Jesus walking on water through the storm. Still, along with a feeling of terror, they might have been thankful for the arrival of help. Did they want to solve the problem of the dangerous seas themselves?
Are you terrified when help appears? Are you afraid to let others know the mess that is your life? When you are feeling like only a miracle can fix your situation, would you be shocked if a miracle actually happened? Are you terrified of running into Jesus?
Jesus’ message to the disciples is, “It is I, do not be afraid.” It is hard to say whether that means, “Don’t be afraid of the storm. I’m here to help,” or “Don’t be afraid of the stranger walking on water.” What is certain is that living with fear makes our startle reflex stronger. When we are always on guard, even the sight of a friend can make us jump.
Living unafraid requires practice. We must ask for help even when it’s embarrassing; go places that seem unknown; take small, manageable risks. We develop skills in fearlessness by looking out during storms to see who is around, saying hi to people we don’t know, and offering help to strangers. If you expect Jesus to walk on the rough waters around you, you will see him in the people who are holding out their hands, offering you the miracle of neighborliness.
Don’t be afraid. Jesus wants to help you to the safety of the shore.
Help me, God, to live without fear. Help me to ask for the help I need and to trust the body of Christ in the community, ready to appear when I need you. Amen.
The Bible is filled with the stories of imperfect people. David is a classic case. In Second Samuel he uses his power to have sex with another man's wife, tries to cover it up, and then plots the murder of her husband. How can this be the same man who penned this week’s psalm, which decries the foolishness of people who act in a godless way? Like us, David was a fallen person who needed God’s extravagant mercy. In Ephesians we read of this same extravagance given through Christ, whose power can do what we cannot—namely redeem all of us who are also foolish and fallen. The Gospel author demonstrates the power of Jesus through what he describes as “signs,” which Jesus performed not primarily to amaze the onlookers but rather to point them to his identity as the Son of God.
Read 2 Samuel 11:1-15. Where in today’s world do you see the selfishness of powerful people bringing tragedy for people with less power?
Read Psalm 14. Do you number yourself among the wise who “seek after God”? Why or why not?
Read Ephesians 3:14-21. How does “being rooted and grounded in love” manifest itself in your life?
Read John 6:1-21. Where do you see yourself in this story?
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