"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'"
Matthew 8: 23-27, NIV
We are accustomed to thinking of water as “good.” After all, it covers most of the earth (around 71%) and is also essential for health – our bodies can live much longer without food than without water. Those of us who fish or snorkel know that amazing and exciting things can be found in the exploration of water.
However, water can also be frightening. A basic human fear is a fear of drowning. There are things in the water, especially in the depths, that can cause us great harm. Floods, hurricanes, and tidal waves can do tremendous damage to property and to life. The seas have historically been a source of mystery and have evoked frightening tales from Moby Dick to Jaws.
In Genesis 1:1, the Spirit of God “hovers over the face of the deep.” God’s Spirit conquers the chaos of the dark waters and brings about life. In the New Testament, Jesus calms the raging storm (Matthew 8:23-27), and He also comes walking on the stormy waters in the presence of the disciples, who are frightened on a boat (Matthew 14:22-33). Despite the mysteries and fears that water evokes, God demonstrates His mastery and His calming presence regardless of how rough the waters become.
Perhaps the final sign of God’s conquering the mysterious deep is that the universal Christian sign of a relationship with God is baptism! We step into the waters of baptism without fear and allow the waters to overtake us because the most frightening part of “the depths of the sea” – death – has been defeated. Our baptism is the sign and seal of God’s ability and willingness to move us from fear to faith, from death to new life.
As the new calendar year begins, let us join together to celebrate new life in Christ, and to pray for those who have not yet experienced the defeat of sin and death. Let us pray for more to come to the waters of baptism, publicly declaring the cleansing by the Holy Spirit of sin, guilt, and death.
Prayer for the week:
Almighty God, you delivered your chosen people from slavery in Egypt,
through the waters of the Red Sea,
and established with them a covenant of your unfailing love.
Mercifully grant that we
may be delivered from the slavery of sin through the new covenant,
and obtain the promise of eternal life
which you have given us in your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen
(Adapted from the Australian Prayer Book)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today