It had been a few thousand years since He had unrolled the sea and made passage for His children. But the simple truth is when we don’t see with our eyes, we tend to not fully comprehend.
The evening Jesus suggested that He and His disciples get into a ship and pass to the other side, none of the disciples were thinking of the Red Sea and the One Who controlled it. Their minds were full of the teaching of the day or perhaps the meal on the other side of the sea. As fishermen by trade, they respected the sea but did not fear it. Until a storm rose suddenly and the waves began sloshing into their ship.They turned in desperation for a word from the Master, only to find Him sound asleep.
The disciples didn’t take long to wake the Master. Full panic had set in, and they were convinced they were about to be swept to a watery grave. Their words, driven by fear, sound ludicrous to us: “Master, don’t you care we’re about to die?!”
The panic-stricken Israelites had asked a similar question of Moses by the Red Sea, “Were there no graves in Egypt that you’ve brought us to this wilderness to die?!” An angry army or a violent sea seem to elicit the same response. And Jesus’ words as He stood to His feet in the boat crazily tipping, echoed those of Moses’ answer: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord…..The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Except Jesus told the sea to stand still, then turned to ask the disciples why they were so afraid.
One would think now that they had seen Jesus’ power, they would never forget His mastery over the sea. But what we see, we tend to easily forget.
It was only a short time later when Jesus sent the disciples away in a ship without Him. Perhaps it was loaded with the 12 baskets of fragments from the dinner party they’d just thrown spontaneously for 5,000 men and their families. He told the disciples to meet Him on the other side of the sea. After He waved them off, He slipped into a secluded mountain spot to talk to His Father. Around 3 in the morning, he saw them rowing hard against the rough winds. They still hadn’t made it to the other side, and even their expertise as fishermen wasn’t gaining them any ground (er, knots?).
Jesus decided to walk by and check on them. The last time, they’d seen Him in the boat with them and still feared death. This time, they saw Him and imagined a ghost. Who (or what) else would be able to walk on the surface of water? Again, He told them not to be afraid and as soon as He entered the ship, the wind stopped.
I remember those nights when I put each of my babies in their cribs for the first time and slipped out of the room. Up to that point, they had been in a little bassinet next to my bed. I had easily woken at each rustling of sheets or at the first signs of a whimper. I could hear them as they took each breath which gave me hope I’d know immediately if they stopped taking one. But now, I would only hear an actual cry from the next room. I wouldn’t be there for every little sound. They were old enough to sleep through most of the night (usually). They didn’t need my attendance to every breath, even if they still needed me near.
As a homeschooling mom, I’ve never had that first day of kindergarten experience of waving to my child as she gets on the bus. So, when my daughter attended a short class about animals at about age 7, I shed a few tears as I dropped her off. She cheerily walked in….and out…of the class a bit later, but I felt a little lost letting her go.
Sometimes as parents, we feel like we’re sending our children out to rough seas. From the first time they sleep in their own crib until the day they move into their own apartments, it’s a process of letting go. We watch them wobble on the two wheels of a bike, willing them not to fall, but picking them up when they do. We bite our lip as they drive away on four wheels, praying they don’t wreck, but showing up with the police when they do. From every first to every last, our hearts tear and heal in what feels like rapid succession.
I want to disciple my children like Christ did with the group of followers He had. But there is one major difference. He could control the seas, and I cannot. So, what value do these stories have for me as a parent?
- Jesus stayed near. In the first incident, Jesus stayed right there in the boat with them. He didn’t let them on their own too soon. I can be there for my babies when they skin a knee or for my teens when their heart is broken. I can stay in the boat until they can handle it a bit better on their own. Then, I can stay near, even if it’s a phone call away.
- Jesus held them up in prayer. Jesus saw their toiling and their hard work. He felt compassion for them, but His prayers are what kept them as they struggled against the waves. That is the thing I can do….must do….for my kids. Even when they are out of my reach, and I cannot intervene in the situation they struggle against, I can pray.
No, I cannot control the sea for them. But I know the One Who Can. And from my secluded spiritual mountain, I pour my heart out to Him and see Him walking right beside them, waiting, until they need Him to slip into the boat.