Saturday, August 09, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Today’s text

Matthew 14:28-33

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

Be still ... and know

Human beings aren’t very good at walking on water. This goes without saying, but I am not talking about skimming across the surface of a lake without skies.

In the Bible water is often a symbol, a metaphor for life and God’s presence ... and for threat and chaos. Psalm 46, often read in troubling times, says there is a stream that makes glad the city of God. The flowing stream is a metaphor for God’s presence bringing hope and strength.

Jesus says those who know him will have streams of living water flowing through their souls; again, water is a symbol of God’s peace and love flowing through us. But water is also a symbol of chaotic (even evil) powers we cannot control. The sea is restless and powerful. Winds whip up waves that toss human beings around like child’s

The waters stand for the unruly tide of human history, unpredictable and uncontrollable. Water symbolizes changes and troubles--the storms and rough seas of life that steal our confidence and make us afraid.

These waters are everywhere. Just watch the news.

Disturbing waves appear as suddenly as an ache that wasn’t there the day before, the pink slip telling you your services are no longer needed, the awareness that you may be losing your edge or your memory, the anxiety that your life and future are not secure.

Our Camp Noah ministry team recently encountered young people in Oklahoma whose lives were distressed not only by tornadoes that smashed homes, but also by alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse and the revolving realities of life in a foster home.

Recently, I heard from a bank vice president, one of the most competent and confident people I have ever known, musing about the constant bickering around his office—the way his opinion is ignored by younger colleagues who have no idea of all he has done in his leadership ... and don’t care. Now, he questions his judgment, the sharpness of his mind, his ability to do what he has done with care and confidence for decades. The waters are choppy around him, and there is doubt in him I have never
before seen.

School soon starts. Students go to new schools, to classrooms and teachers they don’t know. Amid anticipation of good things questions and anxieties also appear. Will my friends still be there? Will I have difficult classes or people who don’t like me?

And then this week our staff visited Amado, our congregation’s custodian, recovering and rehabilitating from the bullet that ripped through his neck and shattered, nearly killing him from the five units of blood that poured from his wounds.

It is amid such wind and waves that Jesus reveals himself, speaking as the One who alone masters the storm.

“Take heart, It is I,” Jesus says. “Be still. Do not be afraid ... even when the waves are great ... even when you feel like you are sinking. I am with you. Just ... hear ... my ... voice. I am the Voice of calm, the Voice of the Love who is, who always will be ... who never leaves you.”

It strikes me that before the story of Jesus and Peter on the waves, Jesus rests on a mountain, praying, communing with God in the silence of total love, totally aware of God’s Holy Presence deep within.

He wants us to know what he knows. Most often we don’t know.

Our fears multiply when we feel separated, separated from Voice of Love that would fill us as it filled Jesus on the mountainside. He knew the Voice of Love. He always knew what we forget, especially when the waves grow high and the winds restless.

Jesus is the Voice of Love who comes amid restless waves of fear, finding ways to speak to us and in us, seeking to fill us with the Eternal Presence of Love that filled him.

That is why we pray together or in the silence of heart, with words or without, as we go about our days.

You need to hear the Voice of Love, the Voice of Jesus’ Eternal Presence deep within your heart amid the restless waves and noise of living. Hearing his Voice ... courage comes, and we begin to learn ... however slowly ... what it means to walk on water.

Pr. David L. Miller

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