Last year on the Fourth of July, after the sun had set but while evening light still lingered, I stepped from the docks of Lubec onto a little boat that headed out into Johnson’s Bay. I was delighted and eager; our plan was to watch the fireworks displays from three towns and two countries while bobbing on the waters of the bay between Canada and the US.
What I did not know was that we were also going to sail through Old Sow. With still an hour or so of daylight, our captain took us on a little tour while we waited for the fireworks show. The salmon pens, a little whale-watching, a few dolphins playing, the Canadian Island of Campobello. Then through Old Sow, the largest whirlpool in the northern hemisphere, second largest in the world.
Deep water scares me. I’ve lived all my life in the Midwest, far from any deep water. I can swim…but only in a calm swimming pool. While the ocean fascinates and awes me, I’m wary and respectful of its power.
Now here we were, in the little six-passenger Lorna Doone, puttering through Old Sow. Strong currents flowing from many directions around the islands, from Passamaquoddy Bay to the Atlantic and back again, create a tidal churning, a watery vortex that at times can capsize and swallow ships. To safely pass through the roiling waters, a captain has to correctly judge the tides and the winds. Our captain took us through. I was… ummm…nervous. And very glad to come through on the other side.
But the captain of our boat has spent his life on these waters. Even though the Lorna Doone was the smallest craft out that night, her captain knew the bay, he knew the tides, he knew his boat. His wife told me, “Don’t worry. He knows what he’s doing. He won’t take us through if he’s not absolutely certain we will make it.”
(I thought to myself, Yup, that’s probably what most of the people who disappeared here, along with their boats, also thought …)
Ever since, when I think about sailing through Old Sow, I think about the confidence that woman had in her captain. She sat back and relaxed, did not watch the waves anxiously, as I did; she had no concern that we were headed toward waters where we might disappear forever.
I want to have that faith! I have spent too much of my time worrying about rough waters ahead. I want to have a trust that knows, even when the whirlpool’s waters grab at my little boat, that my captain is in total control, he knows the waters, he knows exactly where I am, and his power holds me.
How often have we cried, “Lord, do you see what’s happening? Do you care? Help! I am not going to make it…”
The story, first told about Jesus’ disciples on the Sea of Galilee, repeats itself in every generation of disciples, repeats itself in every disciple’s life, repeats in my life. Again and again, I find myself in a storm that threatens to overwhelm my boat; again and again, I cry, I’m drowning, Lord!
And I hear the same answer, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The storms are real. Our peril is real. The enemy would love to grab my boat in the swirling deep and swallow it, never to surface again. Without faith in my captain, I would have plenty of reasons to be terrified of the waters and storms ahead.
The old hymn, “Peace Be Still,” has been humming in my head, especially these two lines:
“No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies;”
The story in Scriptures tells us that at Jesus’ words, “Be still!” there was suddenly a great calm. It’s referring to the wind and the waves, but I want this to be descriptive of me, too!
I want my little faith to grow to big faith. I am learning. He brings me through the Old Sows in my life, he calms me in the storms, I am in His hands. I want to look ahead and relax, trusting, having faith in Him no matter what waters I see boiling ahead.
Scripture: Mark 4:40
NEXT: Lifelines to grab when you’re drowning.