Water is a powerful and rich symbol in Scripture. It is both life and death—fear and faithfulness. In the beginning of creation, the Spirit broods over the waters. God sends a flood to wipe out and remake the earth. God delivers Israel from Egypt through the sea and swallows up their enemies behind them. Baptism symbolizes and summarizes all of these stories, as well as the ultimate story of Jesus' death and resurrection.
The sea can also symbolize for us the life of God himself. It is what it is—an unfathomable paradox of both stillness and activity, surface and depth. We can hardly harness it, let alone master it. Likewise, eternity is completely beyond our comprehension and control, and yet it is exactly the mystery into which we are welcomed. We are called not to "take control of our life" but to surrender and live beyond control. We die to ourselves and are reborn with the life of Christ.
- Read Mark 6:45–56.
- Ask God for trust that he is always who he says he is.
- Put yourself again in the disciples’ boat. The weather is picking up. Feel your muscles burn as you strain the oars against the wind. See the obscure figure approach on the water, and hear him call out, “Don’t be afraid. It is I.” Follow the disciples through their experience of terror, confusion, and astonishment.
- Imagine gazing out into a vast sea. Soak in its magnitude, its depth. Dwell in your inability to change, control, or even comprehend it. What feelings does this stir in you (fear, wonder, peace, captivation, etc.)? How do these feelings relate to the way you see God?
- Jesus walks on the water after withdrawing into solitude to pray. Go up on the mountain with him. Ask for greater faith and freedom from fear as he calls you deeper into the mystery of who God is.
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC