Monday, 29 December 2014

The Way with Boats

John 14:6
"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

Isaiah 43:16
'...the LORD, (Who) makes a Way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters...'

Psalm 77:19
'Your Way was in the sea and Your paths in the mighty waters...'

Mark 1:16
'As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.'

Our life with Jesus is a journey, from the point where we begin and to the point where we end. In the past I used to think that it was only when I got to my destination (Heaven) that my objective would be reached. But since the Lord brought me out of the religious system, He showed me that He is the destination. In other words, He is the goal, and the Way. After I left organised church, every time I would tell the Lord that I didn't know where I was going, He would tell me, 'Don't be afraid, I am the Way.' So He is the Way, and He makes a way. 

So as His disciples, here I am, like Simon and Andrew, fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, working my way through life. Now as fishermen, Simon/Peter and co. had to take their boats out every evening. They had to make the boat ready, pull the boat over the large stones, (Kinneret has a stony shore) clamber into the boat, push out into deep water, hoist sail, catch the evening wind coming down over the hills, and make their way over the lake to where the shoals of fish would be found. They would let down their nets and wait. Once they'd caught enough for the night, they'd hoist sail again and return to Capernaum, jump over the side into shallow water, drag the boat up onto the beach and make fast. Then their catch would be inspected and eventually sold, probably there in the early morning, as the villagers came down to the shore to buy breakfast. Afterwards they would probably sleep a while before getting up again to mend their nets, or do anything else that was necessary. And then they met Jesus and everything changed. They caught miraculous catches of fish, they walked on water, storms were stilled.

Their lives with Jesus were lived out around, on, and sometimes even in the Sea of Galilee. Of course, like us, they had their problems. Sometimes the fish would be scarce or they might catch nothing, a boat might be damaged when launching it or dragging it to shore, or during a storm, a sail might be torn, or the sheets might snap or the mast break under the strain of the gale. The Kinneret is an unpredictable body of water, ('Kinneret' comes from the Hebrew word meaning 'harp' because of its shape) which like a harp, can play quietly, or loudly. So there must have been constant work on the boats to keep them in a good state of repair. A lazy fisherman would have a boat full of holes. A boat full of holes was a dangerous boat, in which he would spend more time baling out water to keep afloat than he would be able to spend in fishing.

Our life too, must be kept in a constant state of repair. Jesus renews the boat when He steps into it, but, living as we do in the overlap between this world and the next, we still get holed now and then, and then the water seeps in, or gushes in, depending on the size of the hole. If  I'm disciplined, I'll show Jesus the hole and He will help me repair it. 

Frequently, though, when life doesn't go as I wanted, I somehow carry on, ignoring the holes my life's circumstances make, because repairing them is somehow unpleasant work. I sometimes forget that Jesus is just as interested in helping me repair my boat, as He is in going out on the water with me. I forget that He loves being with me at all times. The journey or way, with Him, means sailing, fishing, and repairing. It's all precious to Him because He loves me.
But repairing a boat means that my boat has to be dragged up onto the beach, turned upside down and inspected carefully to find the hole. I frequently find other, smaller holes too. Barnacles, algae and weed start to grow on the hull, which have to be scraped off to prevent the boat from carrying too much ballast and allow it to travel easily in the water. Wooden staves have to be replaced at times. It is constant work, keeping the boat sea-worthy. So what I should do, wherever I see water seeping in, threatening the safety of the boat, is to show Jesus the hole, and together with Him, repair it. His blood covers every sin. Noah covered the Ark with pitch. 'Cover' is the Hebrew word 'kaphar' which means atonement, and was the same word used for the mercy seat which covered the Ark of the Covenant. I just need to bring the holes to Jesus and appropriate His blood to be the covering, so that the enemy cannot get in.  

Some people are lazy and proud and don't come to Jesus with their holes. They deceive themselves that they can manage just fine. The result that their boat is dangerous. They cause other people to suffer when travelling with them. It's stressful sitting in a boat which is full of holes. And instead of making sure that the boat is well repaired and cleaned, they spend all their time baling out the water, which is exhausting work, and they blame the Creator for allowing the water to come into their boat, instead of maintaining their boat carefully with Him.

Thank You, Lord, that You love being with me every moment of the day, and that You are just as interested in making repairs as You are in sailing. Thank You that You are the Way, and that everything I encounter on the journey is valuable and useful. Thank You that I can bring You every hole that results from dragging my boat over stones, or hitting a rock in deep water, or storm damage. You expect such things to happen - it's normal with a wooden boat... and that's all I am...a vulnerable, weak, human boat, dust and ashes; easily holed. But I praise You for these weaknesses, because when I am weak, with You there, then I am strong. Your GRACE is sufficient. Your covering, Your blood, is all I need. You are my strength and covering and in You, with You in my boat, I can weather any storm that occurs on the way.

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