My friend and I owned a boat with blue and purple sails. It was a small sailing dinghy with just enough room for two people.
We kept our boat on a large lake just outside London. On a weekend when the weather was nice, we would drive down, drag our boat into the water, hoist the sails and spend a few hours enjoying ourselves on the water.
Sailing on a lake is a completely different experience than sailing at sea.
One difference is, it’s harder to read where the wind is coming from. Out on the sea, the wind is constant from one direction. However, on a lake the contours of the land affect the wind and mean it is constantly shifting directions. It can be confusing for a sailor.
When the wind was blowing strong, we would change our minds about a day of sailing. A sudden gust could catch us out and capsize the boat, leaving us wet and struggling to get upright again.
Jesus’ disciples, fishermen, suffered a similar phenomenon on the Sea of Galilee.
The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus’ disciples fearful out on the Sea of Galilee struggling with the wind and waves.
When I visited the Sea of Galilee the water was like a mirror. Sturdy fishing vessels lined the harbor. Surely, these men could have managed, and I doubt the waves were that big.
Yet, the geography of the land and the weather systems in this area do create storms.
The Sea of Galilee is an inland lake surrounded by high hills. Cut into these hills are deep valleys that act like funnels for the wind. When it is powerful, it can whip up the water with menacing waves.
Also, the boats were not as robust as I thought.
I got to see a first-century fishing boat discovered in the mud on the shores of the lake. It is an example of a typical boat used by Jesus’ disciples.
Seeing the boat changed my mind about the courage of the disciples.
This boat was a small flimsy vessel made of cedar and other woods. It was about 27 feet long – about the length of two minivans end to end. However, it was only 7ft across. Two men could have sat side by side. It did have a sail but it also had oars so it could be rowed across the lake.
It would have flipped like a coin in rough weather and high waves.
No wonder the disciples were scared. Yet, we read Jesus always came to their rescue during the storms—walking out to them, getting into the boat with them, calming the waves. And, each time he reminded them to have faith.
It is the same for us. When storms come out of nowhere, we’re frightened.
We are to be reminded that:
When you feel like you’re drowning, call out to Jesus. He will reach out and save you.
When the world seems against you and you’re struggling to make headway, cry out to Jesus. Remember his words: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
When you wonder how the storm will be calmed, let Jesus climb into the boat with you because everything on earth obeys him.
Are you afraid? Do you need to believe and trust Jesus will be with you through the storm?