“I’m glad,” God said while pulling out one of the stools from beneath the edge of the island behind me in order to sit down. “When it comes to theologians, he’s a very insightful professor. He takes my Word seriously.”
“I miss the seminary days,” I continued and batted at the faucet handle with the back of my hand, inching it only slightly to the left to coax some warmer water. I was hand washing the Waterford crystal rock glasses we’d used the previous night for savoring a reasonable lineup of my nicer whiskies.
“What did you think of the sermon I had him preach today?” God asked.
“It was good,” I said and accidentally clinked one glass against another. The resonating chime hovered in the kitchen, as if intoning the first note for chanting the Kyrie. I listened to it ring until it was gone. “It was just what we needed,” I said staring at the glasses now sitting on a paper towel beside the sink. The water droplets twinkled and fell, being absorbed as little greyed shadows. “It was just what a couple of struggling parents needed—to hear that you’re with us, that you’re in the boat.”
“He preached in a way that you could see it, didn’t he?” He inquired. “You heard the words of the disciples, how they asked each other what kind of man could command the winds and sea, and then you could see the whole thing.”
“Yes, I could.”
“I appreciate preaching like that,” He said and tossed me a towel. “You should dry those glasses, by the way, otherwise you’ll have water spots.”
I fed a corner of the cloth into the mouth of a glass and turned it while cupping the outside in the towel’s remaining portion. I did the same to the others.
“What was it like? What did you see?”
I thought for a moment.
“I was one of them,” I said. “I was in the boat. I was terrified. And it was too familiar.”
So many miraculous things had already happened that day. All along the way to Peter’s house, just after Jesus had finished preaching from the mount, He was inundated by swirling masses of people. But He served and served anyway—healing the sick and driving out demons. I remember that He looked so very tired.
Peter’s home was not far from the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was the perfect place to rest, even if only for a little while. The magnificent view just beyond his door spanned out across a pristine basin sleeping just below the surrounding plains. The whole scene was flanked by a distant and fading range of mountains. At one point, knowing I was relatively new to the scene, James and John shared the interesting details of a stranger phenomenon that sometimes happens here. They explained that the wind will often carry the cool mountain air down into the heat and humidity of the lake, and when this happens, storms erupt. As tested and steady fishermen, they knew when the sky and the sea were scheming, when they had become frustrated by one another and were preparing for such a contest. But not that day. The sky was clear, and the men were already preparing to take Jesus across the lake to the other side. In fact, it was His idea to put us out onto the open water that day.
It was His idea.
We pushed off from shore and began rowing. We hadn’t gotten very far before Jesus had fallen asleep on a cushion at the rear of the boat. It was rather easy for Him to sleep. As I said, He was tired. I could’ve slept, too. The sky’s gentle breath was cooling my brow even as the sun beamed hot, and the undulating sea carefully cradled our tiny vessel. The rhythm of the event was comforting—serene.
It was only a short time later—now a great distance from the shoreline and gliding above the deepest waters of the lake—the sky began to growl. Just above the water’s shimmering horizon, the clouds were settling into something black, something devilish.
It was angry and churning. And it was moving toward us.
There was a dreadful silence before its arrival—the once lapping waves now a still and shadowy water, the murmuring of the men nervously taking notice, the clumsy thumps from the oars being drawn into the boat, the low tones of the thunderous explosions rumbling in the distance. All eyes were widely fixed upon what approached from the horizon—darkness, fear, and Death—charging toward us on warhorses of wind and rain.
I knew, Peter knew, James and John knew, we all knew that this monster rolling toward us with such ferocity could be—would be—our end. And as the roar of the wind and the rain against the sea got louder and louder—matched perhaps only by the terrible sounds of Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen on approach of the Israelites at the Red Sea, set upon slaughter—each of us grabbed hold of the boat, firmly taking to anything mounted and sturdy.
And then it hit.
The first blast against my chest was filled with windswept droplets that pelted my body like gravel. Its strike pulled away the breath from my lungs and caused a rushing fear to wash over the whole band as it nearly capsized us in the very first wave. The men were calling out to one another even as the wind was so much louder. It screamed in our ears, swirling with such force that we could barely see let alone breathe without drowning in the sea water being swept up in a frenzy. The waves were tearing open the depths, lifting up, and swallowing everything. The water was pounding against us, beating against the boat with fists of bronze and stone, one after the other, mercilessly, each one striking so viciously, shaking the boat frame and rattling its planks. And the water, it was pouring over and swamping us, filling the boat.
The fear in the eyes of the men—the grasping tightly to our fragile and failing vessel—the setting reality of no escape.
And yet, Hope was so curiously asleep upon a pillow in the stern, and it was just as miraculous to turn and see Him there, while everyone was screaming in the deluge, He too, like us, was getting soaked, sliding back and forth in His compartment, so comfortably asleep, not bothered by the sky’s tantrum. Even just to look at Him brought peace.
The whole lot of us fumbled through the wind across the slippery deck to wake Him. We cried to Him through the deafening roar, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
It only took a moment for Him to wake, and it was quite necessary for Him to call back to us over the winds just as we did to Him, and yet as all of us spoke much later on the other side of the sea, none remembers His words as being anything but a gentle whisper of care through the tempest, “O, you of little faith,” He said, “Why are you so fearful?” These words translated into our hearts as, “Don’t worry. I’ve got you. I’m here. You’ve nothing to fear. I am with you, Immanuel, God is with you. And even with an atom-sized splinter of faith, My Spirit has turned you to the One who can save you. Come, now, this is not your end. My time has not yet come according to My Father’s plan, and I have so much more to accomplish, and so much more for you to bring before the world. And now, so that you may be certain of these things, let us be rid of this particular devil—this storm.”
He did not say these words—but these were His words. And with that, He wrestled His way to the bow of the ship, slipping and fumbling upon the deck just as we did. He grabbed hold of the boat’s frame, fighting against the powerful wind to keep His footing. He held tightly to the ship. He inhaled a breath to speak, but the words carried by His exhale were not of the same gentleness He offered to us. He rebuked the storm sharply as an angry judge rebukes the guilty, calling for it to close its gaping mouth and be silent. And the criminal tempest—embarrassed and shunned and cowardly fearful of His authority, it obeyed Him. Its screams retreated into nothingness. The sky revealed a bountiful blue, the rain disappeared in mid-fall, the rising waves all across the entire sea fell from their massive heights of swelling, all crashing down simultaneously like lunging whales into the lake’s stilled water.
Most in the boat remained silent, although there were a few who whispered among themselves regarding a man who could command the winds and sea. I said nothing.
“This is what I saw,” I said and moved to my whisky cabinet to put the glasses away.
“The storm sort of reminds me of the day you learned Evelyn had Type 1 Diabetes,” God said.
“O, you of little faith,” He said with a smile.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Thanks for being in our boat.”
“There’s no place I’d rather be.”