Take Courage (27-02-21)
This well-known passage about Jesus walking on the water wasn’t a random event, it was preceded by the feeding of the five thousand, and that was preceded by Jesus taking the disciples away for some rest and recuperation after they returned from a mission where he sent them out into the villages in twos to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Bible Reading: Mark 6:45-51
Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed.
Throughout his ministry Jesus prioritised time set aside for rest and for prayer and, by example, he encouraged his disciples to do the same. But Jesus was also open to change, to respond to the moment. His quest for a time of quiet with his disciples was interrupted by the crowds that followed them, crowds he then taught and fed on the mountainside.
Having responded to this urgent need, Jesus then sends his disciples back to get some space from the crowds, while he returns to his original plan and spends time in prayer with his Father.
How do you cope with a change your plans when something urgent crops up unexpectedly, and how easy do you find it to get back on track after the event has passed? Some of find it easy to adapt our plans but may also struggle to get back to the important things once the crisis has passed. Others of us struggle with having our plans changed and are only too glad to get back to what we had set out to do in the first place.
Finding a time of quiet with God can be difficult, and interruptions will happen. Let us be flexible enough to respond to the urgent and disciplined enough to return to prayer once the crisis has passed.
For the disciples in the boat though, another crisis was literally blowing up, causing them to strain on the oars. Notice however, that although Jesus was not with them in the boat at this time, “He saw them” and “He went out to them”, even if at first they did not recognise him.
It is different for us; we always have God's Holy Spirit with us. And yet, there are times you may feel you are on our own, straining on the oars of life. In those times Jesus sees you, he comes to you walking on the water, and says, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
Thank you Lord Jesus that you are with me in the quiet and in the crisis.
Help me to make space each day to meet with you in prayer and to respond with faith and grace to the needs that arise around me.
Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here.