Each summer of my childhood, my family and I would spend a week in July boat camping at Lake Powell. We would pack the small little fishing boat with our gear (one backpack each), food (mostly dried), the old tent, and stove, and we would hope for calm waters.
As we children grew in size each year, the boat would sit lower in the water, and my father’s stress level would be correspondingly higher. From the shore, he would watch the water for white caps and try to time the launch perfectly, so that we could safely find a good location, and unload onto the sandy beaches before the monsoon winds picked up. I remember the disappointment when a launch was delayed or a trip cut short because of my father’s caution. He knew that the same water that gave endless hours of entertainment could also be deadly.
Water is life giving and purifying, but it also can be terrifying. When I think of today’s Gospel story (Matthew 14:22-36), I am in the boat with disciples of Jesus on the raging waters. The white heads crest around me as the boat tosses ferociously in the wind. The cold spray sting my face and drench my body. And Jesus is looking over me with peace.
In my youth, I looked to my earthy father for guidance, direction, and protection. If he said it was safe, I was able to step into the boat with confidence before setting out into the deep.
As an adult, I am striving to have that same faith in the Lord. My Heavenly Father is watching from the shore as the waves and the winds rage around me.
Can I hear His voice above their roar? Am I looking and listening to Him, keeping my eyes fixed, or am I trying to chart my course based on my own predictions, wants, and whims?
Jesus is here in the uncertainty and the tumult, ready to calm our storms. We need only to come to Him with confidence.