Walking on water

Even the most courageous people have fears to overcome. Fear does horrible things to us. It makes us doubt those closest to us and it can make us afraid to love because we are afraid of being rejected. If you ask someone what they are afraid of, at first they may answer with something tangible, like spiders or heights or water. If you probe a little deeper, they might volunteer that they are afraid of death, of suffering, of losing a loved one, of failure, of loneliness. Fear about tomorrow is what keeps people awake at night!

In today’s Gospel, we see the disciples in the middle of a storm which threatens to capsize their boat. It isn’t long before they are afraid. “The boat arrived at the shore to which they were heading”: On the water, Jesus doesn’t need to get into the boat. Jesus is doing just fine without them or their boat- It’s that they need Jesus. So many people know Jesus is there, just outside their boat, but they won’t let Him get in. He wants to get in, and we’ve established that he doesn’t need to get in for His own sake, it’s for the sake of us on the boat! Why is the identity and command of Jesus enough to cause the disciples to go from fearful cowards to relieved welcomers? Actually, the Greek literally says, ‘Fear not, I am.’ Those last two words are identical to what Jesus said in John 8:58 when he took upon himself the divine name ‘I AM,’ which is the way God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. So Jesus is revealing himself as the one who has the same divine power over nature as the Lord, God of the Old Testament.  When God says ‘I am’, we know who we are. God is God and He will continue to be so yet when we allow Him, He gets in our boat and allows us to do His work even though He can do it quite fine without us.

The disciples of Christ are not exempted from the trials and storms of life. However, it is important not to confuse fear with fate. If you're afraid of failure, you might decide that it is your fate not to do that ‘something new’ that   you've always wanted, move away from your hometown or overcome your fear of social interaction. The truth is, together with God you can be the architect of your future.  Resist the temptation to hope things turn out for the best and leave it up to fate. Often this requires wisdom and courage because other people can hold us back in this regard.  Recognize when someone is feeding your fears by telling you you're inadequate or incapable of changing. Surround yourself with people who want you to overcome your fears and reach your potential. Fear can be used as a tool to help us identify problems and solve them effectively. It's a guidepost, a red flag that warns us when something needs attention. Once the discomfort of the initial wave of fear passes, examine it more closely to see what you can learn. Let yourself be afraid sometimes. There's no way to completely eliminate fear from your life. It's as valid an emotion as joy or sadness. Fear builds character and teaches us how to act with courage. Don't be hard on yourself if you have a lot of fears. Fear is a natural response to situations that are out of our control, and feeling it just means you're human.

That said, remember the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ is found in the Scriptures 365 times. That’s one for every day! Jesus is with us, even though he seems to be absent. We have nothing to fear. It’s not enough to just let him on our boat, but we’ve got to let him steer, letting Him be the one who yells the commands, we no longer insist on being the captain, but we become the deck hand! Giving up control is where it’s at. He knows where we’re going. We don’t know where we’re going. We just know we’re supposed to be going, He knows  where. We do not stop striving and struggling, as the disciples did not stop rowing, but the Lord will bring us to shore. In your efforts to try to get to where Christ wants you to be, have you been unusually straining against contrary circumstances? How many times have we been in the midst of a storm and started out with our focus on Jesus but got distracted by what was going on around us? Everything the devil does in our lives is to get us to take our eyes off Jesus. If so, freshly ask Jesus to into the boat of your endeavours and see if His presence doesn't make the sailing much smoother. When in trouble, say to Jesus: “Lord, it is you, I am not afraid. I trust in you.”