by Davis Melin |  University of Minnesota

Wind sweeps across the surging waves. Whitecaps collide with each other as beams of light from the setting sun illuminate the sea. Standing on my tiptoes, I’m held upright by the wind’s persistence. My arms stretch out naturally, embracing the sheer power of the sight before me, encapsulating me. After traveling thousands of miles for this Passages journey, I stand before the Sea of Galilee. “Jesus and his disciples traveled across these waters,” I think to myself. “He walked upon these white caps; He calmed the storm before his disciples.” The wind continued to whip across my face as I walked back and forth across the shore. I called over to my friend. “John!” I said. “Wanna skip some rocks?” We stood before this aqueous force of nature, mediocrely skipping little, misshapen rocks. We tried to talk, but just kept shouting instead, “What did you say!?”

Walking back inside our hotel, both John and I looked like we’d put our heads out a car window traveling 100 miles per hour. We looked at each other and laughed, marveling what had just happened: “Dude! The wind! The waves! The sun shining through the clouds!” I couldn’t help but think that what we had just experienced was still a mere fraction of the true power of the sea. It hadn’t even rained! Imagine strong wind and towering waves compounded by a sideways downpour, lightning sparking the night sky, and thunder so loud your heart shakes. The storm described in the Gospel according to Mark may have been such a storm:

A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to die?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was a great calm. Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still no have no faith?” And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 7:37-41)

As John and I literally encountered a storm, I thought of the figurative storms in my life: uncertainties of my future career, broken relationships, and moments of my past I’d rather forget. But I felt a new thought emerge: I’m not in a single person kayak, braving the waters by myself; I’m in a boat, with others who also have fears, who also face uncertainties, who also have done things and said things they regret. I realized that I was in a broken boat with other broken people. The boat of humanity, not just my boat, was being swamped as Mark describes, and only the Word could save us from ourselves. In fact, Jesus words exerted power over nature; His lips commanded the weather. How great is our Creator, that creation submits to Him in obedience!

Here, along the shores of the sea, although I did not see God, I encountered Him, I feared Him; but fearing God is an entirely different understanding than fearing man. Fearing God is well demonstrated through its acronym: Father Eternal, Awe, and Reverence. I awed at the sea’s power and I revered its strength. Knowing that our Father is more powerful, more loving than we can comprehend allowed me to rest in His grace and mercy, being fully confident that our Savior can calm any storm, figurative or literal.