Some of the ladies from my support group and I decide to go on a retreat at the beach. We rent a small fishing boat, nothing fancy or anything like a ship. We row our sun tanned selves out to sea as we sing row, row, row your boat and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Kicked back and relaxing on the smooth blue water the wind begins to pick up.
In a very short time waves start slapping the sides of our boat. The four of us sit wondering, “What’s going on? It was smooth just a few minutes ago.” One lady looks at me, then another. The waves begin to get larger. The wind picks up even more.
We sit a little closer to each other but no one says the dreaded words, “I’m scared.” Water starts splashing over the sides. The boat rocks and is getting tossed about. Hands cling to the sides with white-knuckled death grips.
As I sit there wondering what to do I look out over the expanse of the water. Off in the distance I see what I think is a man. A man, out here? I must be hallucinating! I guess I’m not, for the man comes closer. Oh my gosh, I am hallucinating! He’s not swimming out here to save us, He’s walking on TOP of the water! The others have now seen Him, too.
The four of us huddle together. We’re scared more of this “ghost” than we are of drowning. I try to reassure the others, “Don’t be afraid, it’ll be over soon. We’ll all jump overboard before it gets here.” Arms squeezing each other, a death grip, clinging together, we watch as the “ghost” gets closer and closer. “On the count of three we all stand up and jump,” I whisper. Our eyes are riveted to the figure that’s slowly strolling across the water. The figure approaches.
Suddenly realization hits me. “This isn’t a ghost! We don’t have to jump to our deaths! It’s Jesus ladies! Hip hip hurrah. Three cheers for the Lord,” I shout. Not thinking we could tip the boat in a split second, we all stand up. Some look closer to make sure I’m not playing some game with their minds. Jesus comes closer and says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v.27)
With a huge sigh of relief we all settle down. As the wind dies down frowns and tears turn to sighs of relief. But, I still have some doubts. I mean okay I’m sure this has to be Jesus. After all nobody I know can walk across the top of water. “If You’re REALLY Jesus, tell me to come to you, on TOP of the water”, I say in a cocky voice. Jesus just looks at me like, no problem. “Come!” is all He says.
Without hesitation, we four put our heads together. “Are you going to get out of this boat?” one asks me in a whisper while sneaking a peek at Jesus. Glancing over my shoulder, then turning back to the others, “Do you think I should? I mean, He is Jesus!” Another whispers,”You can trust Him, I think.”
Jesus stands waiting patiently while I make my decision. He knows this is a tough request because He also knows my past. Christ doesn’t say, “Oh come on! Don’t be a chicken.” He just waits. Standing there right on top of the water like it’s no big deal.
Christ has no doubts, but I do! Glancing at Him then looking to the ladies I bravely state, “Okay, but wait a minute. I have to fix my hair. I’ll get a swim cap or something just in case I sink. I don’t want to get my hair wet.”
Jesus waits. I scrounge around the bottom of the boat and finally find a swim cap that’s white with a big pink flower on it to match my swim suit, and pull it on over my head. My mind starts racing. He wants me to get out of this boat! That’s deep water out there! Is He nuts or what?
Standing in the middle of the boat I suddenly feel a tug on my arm. One of the ladies says, “Maybe you shouldn’t do this.” I look back at Jesus. “Are you sure this is what You want me to do?” I ask Him. With a smile that could melt butter He looks at me and never says a word but I can tell what He’s thinking, “You don’t trust Me. You think I’m going to ask you to do something that will hurt you.”
Hesitantly stepping to the edge I place my hands on the boats rim and pick up my right foot to swing it over the edge. I stop. “Maybe I need some make-up. After all, He is good-looking.” With a quick, “Just a sec,” I jerk my foot back into the boat. Rummaging around again I find a tube of lipstick and quickly slather my lips.
Some may find this quite odd but we survivors are always ready for the unexpected. We learned to be prepared and cautious and not to trust just anyone because we never knew who or what is lurking around the corner or will show up in the dark. But lipstick?
Jesus waits. He doesn’t sneer. He doesn’t tap His foot making little splashing sounds. He smiles and waits with the patience of Job, and waits. My mind races. Maybe I better find a float. What if a fish swallows me? I wonder if there are sharks out here. I glance back at the Man on the water. Should I really trust this Guy?
Finally I gulp and take a deep breath and place one leg over the edge of the boat. “Oh jeeeeez this water is cold!” Bravely I tug at my swim suit, take another breath and slowly sit on the edge with both feet touching the water. I hear a whispered, “The fool’s going to drown.” I slowly stand and woe, I’m standing on top of the water!
All eyes are on me. Intensely I look at Jesus and think, This is cool but I must be nuts! Cautiously placing one foot in front of the other I take cautious steps and suddenly shout, “Hey, I’m walking on water!” Taking more cautious steps I keep my eyes on Jesus. With a little more confidence I get a little spring in my step. Smiling, Jesus is four or five feet in front of me. Love and patience glows across His face.
Wanting to tip-toe and maybe do a little dance I feel wonderful! Keeping my eyes glued to Jesus I feel like this is the greatest thing I’ve ever done but suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see wind stirring up waves across the sea and they’re heading straight for me.
Fear grips my belly. I’m not sure what to do. Just for an instant I look toward the waves and in that split second down I go! The cold water engulfs me up to my waist and my face is a picture of terror. I hear the loud gasps from the others in the boat. My eyes are the size of meat platters and I scream, “Lord, save me!”
The words no sooner leave my lips and Christ reaches His hand out to me. “You of little faith,” He said, “Why did you doubt?” (v.31) He helps me to climb back in the boat and the ladies begin to worship Him. I am safe. We are safe. Jesus is here. We all bow our heads in prayer. “Thank you Lord that You are the One we can trust and look to for all of our needs.”
As the little fishing boat gently glides to the shore we continue to praise and worship Jesus. People are gathered cheering and waving as we approach the shore. We each disembark and without a moment’s hesitation begin telling all those we can about how Christ saved us.
“and all who touched Him were healed.” (v.36)