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Topic: Peace (03/15/04)
TITLE: Peace Is Never Plain Sailing
By Melanie Kerr
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I feel a hand on my shoulder and look up. Without a word, he sits beside me, picks up a twisted stick of wood, smoothed and tanned by the water and the sun, and traces patterns in the sand.
“If you want to leave, I won’t stop you,” he says.
“Who said anything about leaving?” I say casually.
“If you want to stay,” he speaks slowly, “things are not going to get any easier. There are going to be other days just like today. Days where unexpected things happen.”
I think about the day and about the unexpected things that happened. Violent storms that shred the clouds to ribbons and the rip the sea in a torrent of crashing waves were not unexpected, not here on the Sea of Galilee. I had seen them before, from the safety of the shore. Today I had been out there, watching the seasoned fishermen, as the wind washed the colour off their faces, and stripped the courage from their hearts. I watched, incredulous, as the man, who now sits beside me, slept so peacefully in the back of the boat. How could he have not been shaken out of his slumber by the shrieking wind that swore and spat at the boat? How could be so unaware as the boat was snatched and thrown about by waves? And the water that heaved and hurled into the boat from all sides – how could he remain asleep?
Fear explodes into the life of every person. I thought I was afraid of the storm. I thought I was afraid that the next wave would be the final wave to open wide its jaws and swallow us. I thought I was afraid that the next gust of wind might be the blast that pushes its fingers between the wooden planks of the boat and rips us apart. I thought I was afraid that I might die today.
I knew I was truly afraid when he stood up in the boat and lifted his hands and rebuked the wind and the waves. I knew real fear when everything suddenly stilled. I shivered not because I was wet, hair and beard plastered to my face and clothes painted by the wind on to every contour of my body. I shivered because in the midst of the peace of the lake at that moment, a storm, more violent that the physical one we has just battled through, had began inside my heart.
“Who was this man, that even the winds and the waves obeyed him?” Someone had said it, all of us had thought it, none of us could answer it. Even now, as I sit alone I have come up with an answer. It cannot be the right answer. Only God could control the wind and the waves. And yet it cannot be the wrong answer. He is God. And if he is God, how can I think about leaving? But to stay? – I would have to surrender my heart to his command, just like the wind and the waves surrendered to him. How can I not be very afraid?
I sit in silence.
“But just like today, John,” His words break into my thoughts. His eyes seek my face. “Just like today, when those unexpected days come, I will be here.”
“For the storms, out there, “ He flicks his hand in a generous circle that takes in everything.
“And the storms in there.” He touches my heart. “I will be here”
My heart surrenders to him. The storm inside ceases to rage and I am at peace.