"I knew Jesus was there,
sleeping in my boat,
but the night was so black
it was impossible to see Him."
- St. Thérèse of Lisieux
I can imagine Jesus standing in the twilight, on the threshold of the year 2020, and announcing to heaven, "Let us go across to the other side." We all know what happens next. 2020 has been the most turbulent year in my lifetime. But I have been so focused on the storm—the wind snapping the mast in two, the rudder locking up in the current, the water sloshing at my feet—that I haven't noted what I haven't noticed: Jesus. Where is he? Surely, he can turn this situation quickly around.
I finally see him across the way. Is he sleeping? Surely not, but it is either that or he has died. If my hands were not full trying to keep this ship from sinking, I would go to him myself. I yell into the storm, hoping that someone will hear me, "Somebody go wake Jesus up!"
I will later be rebuked for my lack of faith. But the storm will have calmed. I will have survived another tempest.
A 500-year-old engraving by a man named Georg Pencz depicts Our Lord sleeping in The Boat as he crosses Lake Tiberias with his friends. Christ is shown asleep, as the story goes. He has a halo in this engraving. He is Lord. He has no fear to rouse him because the storm belongs to him.
We do not have the same power of understanding that Our Lord has. We are not masters over nature, and we do not know intuitively that we will arrive at the other side of the storm safely. But what we lack in understanding is cured by trust. Because we cannot miss the fact that Christ is in the boat with us. He has chosen the day and the hour for us to cross the lake. He has chosen the vessel. And perhaps he has chosen to take a nap.
These are all the mysterious elements of God's will for us. So often we do not choose the particulars in life. We simply follow the Man into the boat, do as he says—and we remain befuddled the rest of the time. But as the events of life unfold and our sense of control collapses, we face a crisis. It is the very crisis that takes us back to him.
Perhaps Our Lord will soon be roused. We can hope. And perhaps when he is roused the storm of this year will be calmed. And maybe—when the storm is calmed—we will find that we have arrived at our next destination having learned another hard lesson about faith. Jesus was with us all along. Silent, maybe, but never absent. It is in those intervening moments—when the chaos all around us reaches its crescendo—that the Master awakens, and we see what wonders he can do.
"I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and I am
I am more brute than human being,
without even human intelligence;
Neither have I learned wisdom,
nor have I the knowledge of the Holy One.
who has gone up to heaven
and come down again—
who has cupped the wind
in the hollow of the hand?
Who has bound up the waters in a cloak—
who has established all the ends of the earth?"
- Proverbs 30.1-4
Charlie is a mid-thirties guy who resides in sunny Florida with his small (but growing!) family. Charlie holds a B.A. in Religion and Apologetics and works in the financial services industry by day, writing about the Catholic Faith and Taming the Wild places in the human heart in his spare time. His writing has been featured in places like the Catholic Stand, SpiritualDirection.com, Catholic Exchange, Catholic in Recovery and in print at Shalom Tidings. Charlie serves as the Managing Editor for Taming the Wilds and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.