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Disheveled Theologian: Lake life

I’m sitting in my living room as I write this morning, but it’s hard to concentrate. Sure, I have other things on my mind, but that isn’t the problem. There are dishes to wash and clothes to fold, but they aren’t bothering me, either. It’s the lake that’s at fault. The undulating landscape right outside my window. The roiling waves in 45 mph winds that make it hard to tear my eyes away.

I love the crashing waves.

I guess it’s born in me, growing up on an island as I did, with the beach 90 feet below our back door, and the surf, day and night, never ceasing, a constant lullaby in the background of our lives.

Only sometimes it wasn’t a lullaby so much as it was a rock ‘n roll concert. A booming backdrop of sound. A crashing metronome of tidal power.

Lake Okabena isn’t quite as impressive as the ocean. This I will admit. But I am utterly and forever thankful for the sight of it, this watery landscape I once again have the privilege of viewing each and every day.

Even if it does distract me from my writing.

In my Bible reading this morning, I found myself in the book of John, chapter 6. I’ve been enjoying reading through John again; there’s a lot of good stuff in there. I got to verse 16 and I couldn’t help but smile. I love this passage. It’s a story about water and boats, so how could I not?

Jesus’ disciples had set sail across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus wasn’t with them, having gone off to be alone for a while on a mountain nearby. He had just fed 5,000-plus people, after all. He probably needed a break.

When they were a few miles out to sea, the winds rose and the waters roughed  not unlike Lake Okabena will do — and suddenly they saw Jesus, approaching the boat. Not Jesus, in another boat, coming nearer, but Jesus, not in a boat, drawing nigh. Jesus, walking on the water, treading on the waves, calm as you please.

And they were afraid. They, who knew and loved and hung out with Jesus daily. They, who had seen him turn five loaves and two fishes into food for thousands that very day, were frightened. Confused. Human. Displaying, clearly, the fact that they did not yet understand this man with whom they hung out.

“It’s just me,” Jesus called out. “Sorry to have frightened you.”

He entered the boat and immediately they reached the shore.

Can you imagine what it would be like to see that? To see Jesus, walking on our lake, dismissing the waves as if they were no big deal, walking past our windows, past Sailboard Beach, past the Beach Nook, past Olson Park. Jesus, hanging out with the windsurfers, not on the land but on the water. Jesus, saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

Bring him into your boat, my friends. Don’t let him pass you by. He is the man of miracles. He is the man of love. He will calm your fears and lead you to the shore.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” John 6:16-20 NIV

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is gcodon@gmail.com.

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