Around the time hormones started messing up my little girl brain, my family took several snowmobile trips in the winter playground of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After driving 8-10 hours, we left cars (with keys in them in case they needed moving for the snowplow) at the last plowed crossroads, tied everything we needed for a week onto toboggans behind Arctic Cats and Ski-Doos, and floated through feet of snow into the white wilderness. I loved the beautiful virgin scenery, but I was the only cautious one in a long line of sleds. Other drivers got stuck and rescued from driving too fast into the unknown well before I got to there. I chugged along at the rear of the line way behind everyone else on the tracks they blazed. Holding everyone else up made me embarrassed and frustrated with myself.
A couple of hours into the early northern darkness, we arrived at camp and unloaded by sled headlights. The cabin was the same temperature as the air outside – every chair, table, and piece of fabric – including bedding – stole heat from anything above zero. We kept our snow suits, even our mittens, on and wished the heat of the fire in the stone fireplace into every corner way faster than physics could keep up. Rather than wedge ourselves into a circle around the small fire (there were about 15 of us), most of us kids headed for bed. Without water to wash up and brush our teeth (snow had to be melted on the cookstove to prime the pump), we lugged sleeping bags and blankets up the ladder into the (even colder) upstairs dorm room. I rolled out my bag on a creaky top bunk and climbed in with my snowsuit still on leaving only a breathing hole for my nose and mouth.
And then it began.
I sobbed, shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t like being the center of attention or exposing raw emotion, and that made me cry harder. After a few minutes, my dad came up and asked what he could do for me. It was sweet for him, but I was really embarrassed about the crying and probably said something like, “I’m OK.” He went back downstairs, and I started crying again. I wept until I fell into an exhausted and stressed-out sleep.
After being gone on a ministry tour during which they healed people and drove out demons, the disciples witnessed an incredible miracle. Somehow they had fed 5000 men (with women and children) using a couple of fish and loaves of bread. Immediately after, Jesus sent them off by boat, and he went up the mountain to pray.
They were most likely exhausted mentally and physically as they struggled to row against a storm that came up. (I can imagine as they boarded they assumed the nightly land breeze would enable them to sail across without effort as they slept.) If this isn’t enough, they see a ghost walking toward them on the water!
At this point Jesus did something beautifully simple. When the disciples called out in fear, he got in the boat with them.
Presence is powerful.
In my preteen hysteria, I didn’t know what I needed. Looking back, I think I just needed my daddy to hold me. I needed him. He wanted to “fix it” for me; he didn’t realize he was the fix.
READY FOR SUNDAY
In the account of these events in Mark 6 Jesus gave the disciples (and us) a concrete picture of one aspect of what takes place during worship. After the disciples had come to the end of themselves and their ability, life continued to hammer them. In their fear and exhaustion they needed Jesus. And he shows up!
Much is said about relationship when talking about worship– for good reason. The disciples didn’t need intellectual assistance or advice. Another boat coming to the rescue wouldn’t have been much help. They needed their Teacher, their Lord, and he climbed in the boat with them.
He was, and still is, the fix.