working hard at waiting.

I’ve told the story before, though perhaps not to you.

After the large crowd was fed and the leftovers were gathered up, Jesus sent the disciples to the boat to cross the lake. He climbed up the rough craggy hill to pray.

They were in the boat, he was alone (in prayer) on the land.

The disciples got halfway across and were stuck. Like birds flying into the wind work hard and make no progress, the disciples were rowing hard into the wind and making no progress.

Here’s a thing (I’d say THE thing, but I want to leave some learnings open): Being hard wasn’t punishment, it wasn’t a lack of God’s awareness, it wasn’t an evidence of the disciple’s failure.

They were doing what Jesus sent them to do. Jesus could see them. It wasn’t dangerous (this wasn’t a storm threatening to overturn the boat).

Eventually, Jesus finished his conversation with God and walked to them across the water. Which, of course terrified them.

He spoke to them, he climbed into the boat, and the wind quit.

Mark suggests that they were surprised because they hadn’t understood the miracle of five loaves feeding so many people.

That comment is probably for us. Even people in the middle of a miracle can forget it when they are in the middle of the lake. And apparently meaningless hard work (like boat rowing) doesn’t mean we’re failing or weak or mistaken or neglected.

It may be what occupies our attention while the rest of the story is being developed.

It may be worth asking, “God, do you want me to keep doing this while you are putting other pieces together?” And it may be worth remembering that he’s not standing on the shore. He promised that he’s with us.