True confessions. I love the ocean and going to the beach. As a young adult, I supervised the beach trips to the ocean with our youth group. I spent those years in the Los Angeles basin and a trip to the beach to watch the ocean could be done in a half hour – fewer people! Coming home blistered was a badge of beauty from the goddess of youth. Sun block cream had not been invented nor touted. Watching the waves swell on the horizon and predicting which one would peak when and estimating if I was in the right position to body surf in to shore was so much fun. I admired those who waited further out on surfboards and who could ride the crest down the coast. Many times I waited too long and the wave crashed on me or I went over the top and came up with a mouth full of sand or glided over the top to see the wave peak behind me. So much fun! Wonderful memories!
Last Sunday the wave peaked in the story of the man with the unclean spirit confronting Jesus on the Sabbath, in the synagogue. That must have been a sight. The unclean spirit caught the wave, for sure as it crashed on him and he was sent flying – silenced and without a home. But others watching spread the word and Jesus’ fame spread. This week, Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, not with a huge dramatic wave but a gentle swell that carried her safely to shore. The result is she arose and was energized to serve. Not only that, the whole town gathered at her doorstep that evening bringing their sick and demon possessed. That was a busy day at the beach!
My point? Our experiences with Jesus not only affect our lives but others watching are impacted, children, neighbors, grandchildren, and friends. It is important how we respond to crisis, how we call on God, how we tend for our souls as the pressure of the wave mounts. It is a limited analogy but it does remind me as I read the text and face the challenges of life that I need to face challenges and not turn my back in denial, I need to depend on Jesus to carry me through, and afterwards there is purpose that add life and memories for me but also encourages others to ride the wave of faith.
Perhaps today the waters look calm and glisten with the reflection of the sun and clouds. But perhaps you are trying to ride the waves crashing on our shores today – waves of illness and political questioning and economic challenges. It is good to look up and remember the God who is with you at the beach, see the swimmers who are facing the same challenges and realize this too will pass. The sick woman took Jesus’ hand, felt his arm raise her up, the fever left and she went forth to serve. Thank you Lord for being with us in the ups and downs of life.