Quite a few of my friends are going through storms of different sorts at the moment. It is incredibly difficult seeing people you care about having a hard time. I feel very powerless on such occasions but increasingly realise that is not a bad thing, it means that I have to trust God more and I pray more and I reflect more on what sort of minister I am called to be. I went to a conference the other week run by Bridgebuilders on being a non-anxious presence and found that a helpful concept and phrase. It encourages being present in the moment which is something I can find difficult but which is more helpful than playing out ten different scenarios in my head!
One year we went on retreat to St Non’s and one of the pictures that struck me was of the hand reaching out to Peter as he was sinking (Matthew 14.22-33), I have the same picture on a door in my office and it reminds me that Jesus reaches out to me at times when I am facing storms. Now isn’t one of those times but the picture is a comforting presence to me and helps me to remember that Jesus will be with me at those times it does feel like I am in a storm and he will reach out to me.
I love sea imagery which is perhaps why many of the Bible stories that are significant to me have the sea in it and I often type up sea quotes I find and this is one which talks so eloquently about the stormy sea…
This miracle of Jesus walking on the sea during the storm is not for the crowds, who seek to be entertained by the latest ideas. It is for those who are in terror on the deep. It is for those who are inundated by the waves, wondering if they will ever make it home. God approaches us, and we say things like ‘Maybe it’s a ghost!’ Or, ‘What if God harms me?’ Or, ‘What if God does something crazy?’ Then we remember this story of the brave disciples and how Jesus came to them on the waves and saved them from the storm. He does not stand on the shore watching us from afar as we suffer in dark and dangerous seas. He does not shout faint words of encouragement or try to throw us a life jacket. Jesus steps into the storm with us – right into its heart. He hovers over that black, formless void, just as he did in the beginning. He says, ‘It is I. Let me create you anew.’ Our weak hearts gain courage and we shout, ‘O God get in my boat!’ And the moment God steps into our little currachs, Genesis chapter one happens to our lives; God puts a boundary on the sea and the storm, and sets us safely and forever on dry, solid ground.
Joyce Denham 2005. Celtic Isles Prayers and Meditations from Holy Islands. Oxford: Lion Hudson, p95.