Room for the Impossible

After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.

Matthew 14:22-33

August 11, 2023, Words By: Hultner Estrada, Image By: Oleksandr P

This week’s lectionary text contains some thoughts that make me feel a bit nervous. I think of the fact that in doing something relatively easy in the name of Jesus we can come face-to-face with nightmares of opposition. Powerful gusts of wind can batter our most sincere efforts. Thundering waves overwhelm our hearts, sweeping away our motivation. Dense darkness and blinding uncertainty about tomorrow — a feeling of being lost without knowing where you are or where you are going.

Yes, sooner or later, Jesus´ disciples will find themselves in scenarios like this. The original twelve disciples were simply obeying the instructions of their Master in this passage:” Take a boat, sail away, and I will meet you on the other shore to continue our journey.” However, many hours later, they were in the middle of the lake, fighting against seemingly insurmountable winds and waves. They had gone from attempting to reach the other side to simply trying to preserve their lives.

While this text initially makes me nervous, it also excites me for Jesus´ leadership model. He sends, but does not abandon, those he has sent. He delegates and accompanies at the same time. He cares about the mission, and he cares about His friends. Oh! This gives me so much peace! My problems are His. He takes responsibility for the difficulties in the path of His disciples. He not only acts, but He runs toward danger to save His beloved.

Finally, this story challenges me to leave room for miracles. Moments arrive when the best human resources are ineffective, moments when we need to rely upon God’s grace. Of course, in the town where Jesus stayed, there were more boats, and surely Jesus had friends at His disposal who could help Him rescue His friends from the storm. This situation, however, required more than boats and manpower: He would have to do something miraculous: walking on water. This passage persuades me of the following: we will only achieve some things if, and only if, we leave space for God to do the unexpected.

David puts it this way (amid so much adversity): “I would have fainted if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord… Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14 KJV.)

In this regard, I must confess that the so-called “poor” (in my country of Nicaragua) have taught me some powerful lessons about faith. They have so few financial resources, but they understand how to lean on God. They are used to, in the words of Dominican composer Juan Luis Guerra, “crossing Niagara by bike.” 

They deal with seemingly insurmountable challenges, such as needing medical care even though they lack access to it. How do they heal from their illnesses? What do they do when they have no insurance? How do they care for sick children when there are no qualified specialists to help?

Many people we call “poor” (sometimes rather dismissively) know how to navigate the waters of the impossible. I have heard story after story of those who lacked every conceivable human resource to rectify their problem crying out to God and putting everything into His hands. They did all they could and left room for God to do the impossible — through community or in ways we don’t understand. And He did!  

Made Flesh

Let’s take a few moments to thank God for those men and women who have been models of courage and faith to each of us. Let’s pray for the vulnerable people in our cities, that God mercifully and miraculously provide the bread, the medicine, and the shelter they need.

About The Author

Hultner Estrada