The winds raged. I won’t say the volume of the storm didn’t shock me. It was a lot more than I expected when I set out with only light grey skies above me. Just a little rain, I thought, no more than a drizzle. Besides, the sea is small and I’ll be safe on the other side before anything can go wrong. Now I was grumbling curses at myself as I took down what was left of my shredded sail. My only option was to hit the oars. There was little light left, save the occasional flashes of distant lightning, and I was too absorbed in steadying my boat in the swell to worry about where I was headed.
“Can I help now?”
I started at the sound of His voice. I entirely forgot He was sitting there. I bit my lip stubbornly and shook my head. “Nope,” I said. “I’ve totally got this. You just relax okay?” I think my voice sounded convincing but just in case it didn’t, I averted my eyes from his face. The last thing I needed was criticism. I started up my mental recording of self-help mantras and dug the oars beneath the waves with each one: I am brave. I am strong. I am capable. I know with time and effort I can achieve.
The waves were growing, it’s the natural outcome of the storm, but what I really wanted to know was why on earth my boat was shrinking. It definitely looked smaller. I thought I set out on a yacht. Where had this rickety old rowboat come from? Perhaps I had just been too arrogant to realize how unprepared I was for the journey ahead.
A heavy wave crashed over the side and snapped the rowlock off the frame. The force sucked my oar with it. I reached for it with two desperate hands, thereby dropping my remaining oar into the dark churning waters. They were both out of my reach before I could decide which to go for first. I watched them dip and bob, as though waving goodbye, while bucketloads of water rolled into my splintering wreck of a boat.
“Now can I help?”
I just flat out ignored Him this time. I hadn’t invited Him anyway, He just seems to show up everywhere I go. Besides, if I didn’t concentrate we would sink. I bailed with my hands, hoping against hope that there was an extra oar hidden at the bottom of the boat. The next wave knocked me off my seat almost out into the sea. Why wasn’t I wearing a lifejacket? What possessed me, a lousy swimmer on a good day, to drop themselves in the middle of a large body of water sans life jacket?
I struggled in vain for as long as I could. Perhaps those desperate hours were all packed into five minutes or maybe my floundering lasted as long as it felt. It wasn’t until the splintered wood around me had cut my hands and I was half-drowned and choking that I finally dropped to my knees. The water came up to my chest. I wrapped my arms around His legs and buried my face in His knees.
“Okay,” I whimpered. “Okay please, help me. Please, I give up. I can’t do this alone anymore.”
He was on his feet before the words came from my mouth. He didn’t need my words. He was only waiting for my heart to relent. He raised a hand over the sea.
“Peace be still.”
Instantaneous silence. The wind purred like a kitten as it ruffled the still waters, rippling reflections of bright sunlight across the glassy surface.
I cried and shook. My salty tears mingled with the water that dripped from my drenched hair down my wet face. He lifted me to my feet and took my face in his hands. I had to look in his eyes then. I always expected to see bitterness, anger, or rebuke when we came to this point, but I never did. The same tender expression he always wore when he looked at me calmed my trembling heart. The only change was the hurt I could see in his eyes, but the love that flowed from them made it almost invisible in comparison.
“Oh my little child,” He whispered. “Your faith is so small.”
“Forgive me,” I said then added with a soft choke of bitter irony, “again.” We’d been here before, same scene different setting.
He smiled and pulled me into his arms. I cried against his chest while the wreckage of my boat sank beneath our feet.
“Daddy, will you grow my faith?” I asked.
His gentle voice hummed against my ear. “That’s what I’m doing now. Walk with me.”
My tiny fingers locked securely in his strong hand, we walked across the still, peaceful waters to the other side of the sea.
© Rachel Svendsen 2015