Mark 4:37-41

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Greetings from Pastor Dan!

Last week I was away on vacation, and one of the things I did while I was gone was go sailing with my father. My dad’s one of those guys Jimmy Buffet wrote about: a son of a son of a sailor. I suppose that technically makes me one too, but aside from enough excursions in a Sunfish to get me Small Boat Sailing merit badge, I haven’t really followed in those footsteps. I’m more of a canoe or a kayak kind of person. Rigging intimidates me.

Luckily the old boat he keeps stashed in the woods most of the year isn’t hard for one experienced sailor to handle, so I didn’t have to do much at all aside from a little heavy lifting at the beginning.

And don’t get me wrong, this arrangement was totally fine with me. All I had to do was kick back and relax and occasionally “assume the position” when Dad needed to swing the boom around. We chatted, he explained the sights we passed, and we just enjoyed a beautiful afternoon.

Now I’m way out in the water, nowhere near shore pretty much the entire time. The boat’s old, so all the while there’s a little water running in through the mechanism that operates the centerboard, which we need to bail out from time to time. (For those of you who don’t know ship lingo, don’t worry; you’re not missing anything.) There’s a pretty strong wind all afternoon, so we’re speeding along, and every time we make a slight shift in trajectory the boat tips precariously toward the water, with little to hold onto but the edge of the deck. It feels like taking a corner on two wheels on a slippery-when-wet highway. Neither of us are wearing lifejackets and the water that’s leaked in has somehow found its way into the sealed plastic bag holding my cell phone (brought on board in case we needed to make an emergency call), and it is now fried beyond repair.

At one point I absently grabbed the side of the boat for balance so that I could shift into a more comfortable position, and my dad thought I was gripping the boat in fear that I would fall out. “Hanging on for dear life are you?” he asked. He tried to reassure me, but I had to stop him.

I told him I was just shifting position, and that to be honest, I was on cloud nine. My heartbeat was low, the wind was in my hair, and I didn’t have a care in the world. I didn’t know a thing about operating the vessel that was keeping us above water, despite his explanations as we went, and I had no reference point as to where we were or if things were actually going properly. But I was at peace. “Chill,” in the language of my people.

I trusted the guy operating the boat. Was the roaring wind and the fact that we were taking on water and coming close to flipping on every turn objectively scary? Sure. Was the busted cell phone extremely unfortunate? You bet. But I was happy to put myself in the hands of the boat and its pilot, and just sit back, relax, and see what there was to see.

In my life, the image from Mark 4 always comes back to me. The image of Jesus in the boat in the middle of a storm, sleeping like a baby, the disciples freaking out all around him, and Jesus just says, “Chill out! Have you no faith?”

I know who’s piloting my boat. And He’s much more than a Son of a sailor.

Prayer: God, as we sail along in our lives, grant us fair winds and following seas. And when the water gets choppy and the weather grows dark, help us to trust that you will always be with us. Amen.