A modern day parable, and a true story, taken from Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-51, and John 6:15-21
By Jonathan Futch
Peter could not ever remember a day at sea as gorgeous as this one had been. And now, as far as he could see, the ocean still appeared majestically serene and calm. The evening sky glowed with a palette of brilliant hues, as the setting sun painted the horizon in a banner of cascading red, orange, pink and gold. The sea air was fragrant with the pungency of salt spray while the sky, intoxicated with its dazzling light show, spread its dancing reflection across the sparkling water A friendly breeze tugged gently on the sails, quietly encouraging the lapping waves as they caressed the sides of the boat.
He was almost home. Peter could barely make out the silhouettes of a few lonely gulls wheeling in the distant sky, enjoying the last rays of sunshine filtering through the growing dusk. Checking his watch, he knew that his father would be climbing the long, winding staircase of the lighthouse and readying the powerful beacon to penetrate the night sky, embracing the rugged coastline in its steady beam, spotlighting the jagged rocks and hidden sandbars like actors on a gigantic, watery stage. Darkness could be frightening for such a little boat floating in the deep sea, but his father's great light would safely guide him home. It always did. He could count on it.
Myriad stars hung in the blackness of space, looking as if they could be touched with the outreached hand. The full moon had christened the ocean with its shining path of gold. But, the breeze was picking up, and the face of the moon quickly became shrouded in what looked like wispy strands of lace. The boat began to lurch and rock as the waves started slapping harder at its sides. Peter pulled up the collar of his fishing jacket, wrapping it tightly around him. The sea now was heaving wildly, the wind blowing stiffly in his face, while boiling clouds choked the night sky. As the cresting waves dashed the deck of the boat, Peter looked frantically through the rain that was now lashing his face and searched the sky for a flicker of hope from the lighthouse. The storm was driving the boat faster and faster toward the shore, but the only light Peter could see was the blinding flash of lightening exploding in thunderous crescendos all around him. If the storm didn't break soon, his boat was sure to break apart on the rocks ahead without the salvation of the lighthouse. Why couldn't he see the light? "Father!" Peter cried out as the fierce wind threw his words back into his teeth. "Father, where are you? Help me…please help me, Father…or I'll die in this storm! Please let your light break through the storm and guide me safely home to you!"
He has never seen a day quite like this one…or a night either, for that matter. There had been a lot of people. Crowds of them. Hungry crowds. And, Jesus had fed them all, somehow, with just a few fish and a couple of small loaves of bread. Anyway, they were gone now, and they had left Jesus by himself back on the other shore. Peter and his friends were crossing the lake in their boat. They were almost home. He was so tired that the breeze blowing gently across the lake almost put him to sleep. But, suddenly it stopped. Then, it began to really blow hard, in big gusts. The surface of the lake was whipped up into rolling waves, and it was all they could do now to row the boat through the churning water toward the distant shoreline. As they rowed harder and began bailing water from the boat, Peter remembered being in another storm similar to this one, on this same lake. During that storm, however, his friend Jesus had been in the boat and miraculously was able to calm the winds and the sea simply by speaking to them. Where was his friend Jesus now? He was probably praying to his father. That was something Jesus did a lot and, almost always, alone. But, now they needed him, again…really needed him this time. They weren't able to make much headway against the stiff wind and, If their boat filled up with water, they might all drown. "Jesus!" Peter's heart cried out within him. "Jesus, where are you? Help us…please!" Well, maybe he didn't actually say the words, but his heart ached within him…it ached to be separated from his friend, Jesus…especially now. Especially in this storm!
But, the wind continued unabated. Peter was now so physically exhausted that his eyes began playing tricks on him. With the screaming wind filling his ears, and the crashing waves beginning to engulf his boat, he began to see things…like little bits of lightening walking ghost-like on the water. What is it? Am I going to die? But, wait…what was that light anyway? Could it possibly be the light of…my father's lighthouse? And, what was that sound penetrating through the howling wind? Could it really be the voice of my…JESUS?!
And the light broke through…
And he said,
Be at peace, take courage, don't be afraid…
I am here!
And immediately the boat arrived safely at the shore…
(A modern day parable, and a true story, taken from Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-51, and John 6:15-21)
Jonathan Futch is the director of Mercy Cares Ministries, a network of churches and ministries around the world specializing persecuted peoples.