Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up to the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:42-52
I love the stories of Jesus living life in this world. He flips everything on its side. He doesn't do life as we think it works.
In life, we make headway painfully...we are responsible and we set the daily tasks to accomplish the demands of life, family, work, relationships, and budget...the list continues and morphs. We continue to paddle harder and faster. The Lord sees our efforts from a distance, just as Jesus saw the disciples from land.
Notice the text says, He came to them on the sea and He meant to pass by them. He was planning on meeting them on the other side. His intention was interrupted because He was noticed. They noticed Him but not as they knew Him...they thought He was a ghost. This is so interesting to me. How did the writer know that He meant to walk past them? Jesus must have told them, anyhow they noticed him in their efforts and engaged Him.
He tells the disciples, "Take heart; it is I."In other words, be encouraged, it's me. Don't be afraid when you notice me. The most repeated command and promise in all scripture is, "Fear not, I am with you." I guess He knows that I am a 'fraidy cat.' He also knows that I can get busy and tackle the task of paddling like there's no tomorrow to get to the other side, wherever the other side is.
Is it possible throughout the ordinary movements in my daily life that Jesus notices me and at times walks past me? Does He intend to meet me on the other side? Do I notice the things that are not in the ordinary like Jesus walking on the water? He wants us to notice him, to look for Him, and most importantly to consider Him. A pastor once told me, '"Life is so daily." The 'dailiness' consumes us and we can miss God right next to us. It is those things that I notice, those pauses that stop me for a moment to consider engaging with Him.
God lives in my ordinary but His ways are not confined to my ordinary. This is what I want to notice. This is where I want to be inquisitive and explore. There is often hesitancy here for me because I don't know if what I am noticing is God or isn't. But if I never get inquisitive, I will never know if it's the Lord getting my attention or not. For instance, consequences seem to be random but strike me by the accuracy of what I notice. God or not? Every engagement is an opportunity to question, 'Lord is this you?'
There is a little holy fear considering this could be God. If God works so randomly, what does this do to my theology or the box that I hold God in? These instances can push out the walls of my 'God box' and expand my understanding. These instances are tethered to the Word of God, tradition, and my relationship with Him. He knows how to get my attention. Jesus astounded people with His teachings and healings, and his mercy and grace. Why do we think anything has changed? He astounded then and He astounds now. Is He waiting for me to notice Him or am I just fighting the waves of life trying to get to the other side? In either case, His grace abounds.
Our spiritual vocation is to awaken to the mysteries of God's presence and action in all of human experience. Remember He made all things, He holds all things together, and He is currently active in each of our lives whether we acknowledge Him or not. He graciously pursues us out of His love for us.
May His peace rest on us and may He stir our curiosity towards Him.