I was at a Bible study last night when Bill, a friend of mine, shared a devotional from Mark 6:45-52.( This is the account of Jesus walking on water.) Bill did a great job of sharing what God had laid on his heart, he was very brief and to the point. I must confess though, that while I fully intended to pay attention to everything he said, my mind quickly grasped two striking statements and became so wrapped up in the thought of them that I lost track of anything else he shared. Even today I can’t help but dwell on them.
First of all he noted that there are two places Jesus tended to frequent in His ministry, mountain tops and boats! I had never thought about that before. He was right, we often read that Jesus withdrew to a mountain top to pray, rest or even teach. Who could blame Him. As Bill pointed out to us, mountain tops are serene and peaceful. They give us unique perspective and can provide either a vantage point or a place of solitude.
Jesus also spent a great deal of time in boats. My husband would love this! It is difficult to get him to be anywhere except his boat anytime the weather permits. I can just hear him now, “Teri, we can’t attend ( (insert any activity I am requesting i.e. weddings, church meeting, shopping, party, baby/bridal shower) we HAVE to spend the day on the boat..after all that is where Jesus would spend his time.” Jesus traveled by, taught from and displayed His authority over storms in…BOATS! So maybe as Christians we should spend more time hiking and boating?
The second thing Bill shared which stuck with me was part of the scripture he read. After Jesus had sent the followers away and He had finished praying on the mountain top, He looked out to see His disciples struggling in the boat. “And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea and He was alone on land. And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch, He came to them…. “Mark 6:47-48 seeing them “STRAINNING against the oars”…the “WIND against them” at these words I quickly found myself reliving the events of last Saturday in my mind.
My husband had other commitments and I found myself with a Saturday all to myself, so I decided to take my kayak out on the Occoquan River. The weather was overcast and slightly windy, but I knew I would not have too many chances to do this again. I was especially excited to try bringing my porky little yorkie, Hughie, along for the first time. Of course I envisioned myself casually paddling along the shore with my loyal dog eagerly poised at the bow of my boat. Hahahahaha. Surprisingly Hughie did indeed actually perch at the bow of the kayak from time to time (when he wasn’t fearfully huddled against my legs or chest). Matter of fact, except for the time he jumped out of the kayak in an attempt to get to the turtle he saw sitting on a log in the water, I’d say he was a perfect first mate.
We paddled up and down the river for almost two hours, but it was two hours of “straining at the oars….for the wind was against us”. There was a little casual paddling, and a few relaxing and restful stops along the way, but for the most part I had to work really hard to keep my boat under control and moving the direction I intended as opposed to the direction the wind and current intended.
When we strain against the oars in life, trying to move forward or change direction, we are often faced with winds of opposition. Just as Jesus saw His disciples struggle, so does our God see our efforts and struggles. I like thinking about that…He will come to me as I strain against my oars. I can attest to the great relief one feels when someone comes to help you ashore. When you hand your oars to Him your arms will fall tingling to your side and your entire body will sigh with a release of tension you may not have even know was there.