(Crossing the Waters, Part 3. )
At 3 am, through my windows a ghostly orange mooned the white mountains, glowing the waters toward morning. A pod of fin whales breathed out orange mist. The world was being born again, every creature waking. I could have worshipped such beauty, sworn my life to such wonder. Instead, I whispered, Jesus.
I know all the reasons God can’t exist.
I know Christians do stupid things. We hurt people, we are unkind, we are judgmental. We are blind sometimes. We don’t live up to who we are supposed to be.
I know there is inexplicable suffering and pain in the world and how can it be that a God of love presides over it all?
I know God promises peace and deliverance, but why are only some people delivered and not others?
I know we are enraptured with ourselves and the worlds of our own making. Who would give up such freedom for some invisible God who will make unreasonable demands?
And if you lived in Galilee under Roman oppression in the year 30 A.D. you would have more reasons not to believe.
God said He would be our Father and our God and live among us but He’s nowhere in sight.
God said he would deliver his people through the Messiah, but here we are nearly slaves to the Roman Empire and slaves to all the other empires before them. No one can wait this long.
Religion? The ones who call themselves Religious distort the Scriptures and control the rest of us with impossible rules and laws we cannot keep.
There are always reasons not to believe. And one day, against all arguments, an ordinary man in an ordinary robe got baptized in the Jordan River, and walked the shore of Galilee, calling to some obscure fishermen to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. Within moments, their all-night-empty-nets were sunk with fish. One more thing he had to say, this man that day: “Come, follow me.”
God showed up. Right there on the beach, in the midst of their ordinary labor, in the midst of all the good reasons no one expected God to show His face. But He did. They didn’t know yet that it was Him. They only knew God’s promises, and somehow this man was unlike any other they had known. And they knew one more thing: they knew their need, their undeniable longing for the Being beyond all they saw: beyond the orange moon in the morning, beyond the strangely relentless beauty of the world. Beyond the inexplicable resilience of their people. Could he be The One?
Jesus is still showing up. Nearly every day, if you are looking. For me, he showed up in a storm when I thought I might die. He showed up when a gun was pointed at me and my son. Last week He gave me the courage to confront injustice. I heard him as I read the gospels yesterday.
For you, maybe you will have a dream. Words from the Scriptures may jump alive. Maybe there’s a friend who won’t stop caring about you, a last-minute provision, the disappearance of the cancer cells, the fall down the cliff that didn’t kill you, the forgiveness you didn’t deserve from your son---all of them some form of miraculous sighting. All of them some sort of glimpse of the crazy inexplicable abundance and love of Jesus. Because it comes to you when you least expect it. It comes to you when you least deserve it. It comes in spite of your doubts.
We can revel in the fish, in the dream, in our new health, in the love of a friend, a son, but none of that will be enough for long. None of that will sustain for long. We have to know--who did this? Who has this kind of mastery over disease? What is the source of this wisdom? Where does this love come from? We have to know, because somehow we know that here, here, is life itself, the life we have longed for but could not even name.
Listen, those with ears to hear. A call comes to every man and woman and child. We have all been called. We must follow to find out who it is that calls us, and what we have been called to. Those men that day did not yet know either one: what they would be doing or even who it was who had called them. They didn’t even know who Jesus was for sure. But they knew the poverty of their old lives. They saw the miraculous catch of fish. They knew the power of the Scriptures and its promises.
They would go, then. They would follow. They would find out.
Come, follow me. Do not be afraid.
This is our call as well:
Come, follow me. Do not be afraid.
Friends, would you share your life for a moment? Give me one reason you know Jesus is real.
And if you're not sure, tell me one reason you doubt.