In one of those moments where you really didn’t know what to expect, or if anything, just simply expected a relaxing boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, we headed out only to find ourselves in silence today. It may have been one of the first times as a group that we sat silently and prayed, but this time in a rather unique spot.
It started out like a rather touristy thing to do, taking this boat ride. We were laughing while others were a bit hesitant getting on the boat and in the water, but all 37 of us piled in. When we got out into the middle of the Sea, our guide had them shut the engines off and simply asked us to pray silently.
Now we’ve all heard the stories of Jesus walking on the water, calming the stormy sea, calling the disciples along the shore, and so on, but now here I was sitting in this very spot, in silence, listening to the waves clap against the boat and feeling the boat rock back and forth. It was in that moment, the greatest experience of this pilgrimage.
I thought of the disciples on that storm sea and wondered why they were such afraid. These were men who knew the water, their livelihood; surely it could not have been the first time they had experienced a stormy sea! Maybe it was more what they saw that scared them, a “ghost” walking on this very sea. Maybe it what was unknown that had scared them the most, pulling them out of the storminess of their own lives, which they knew, and to begin to look at like in a different way, the way of Christ which calls them out of the protection of their boats into the unknown, below the surface of that sea…a call of conversion in their own lives.
These are the thoughts that surfaced within me as I sat there in silence, imagining what life was like for those disciples back then, knowing that He still continues to call us today. I took in the smells, the warmth of the sun coupled with a cool breeze, I looked overboard seeing the depths of my own soul, a few miles off shore and yet close enough. Here I was, how great God was and is, allowing the experience and the presence to overwhelm me to tears.
As I sat there, they began to play those words, How Great Though Art, and by then, I could no longer hold in the tears, and I knew I wasn’t alone. I was so overcome with emotion sitting on the Sea of Galilee, hearing my own name being called, as it was for the disciples, to go deeper. Just when I think there’s no more I can imagine about God and a call to holiness, the nets must be cast to the other side and one must go deeper, into the unknown waters of the flowing waters within, the depths of one’s soul, one’s own Sea of Galilee. How great our God is inviting us into the depths of mystery!
It may just have been one of the greatest moments on this pilgrimage, now beyond the craziness of Jerusalem into the serene regions of Galilee. It’s no wonder this was home for Jesus! How great though art, Lord Jesus for bringing us to this point on this pilgrimage as we walk in your footsteps and beyond, reaching and taking us to new levels and depths, from mountaintops to the seas. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How Great Though Art, How Great Though Art.