Lately, I have been feeling unmoored. A ship is moored when it is safely anchored … when it is attached to the dock by mooring lines or when it is held in place by one or more anchors on the ocean floor. Being unmoored isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When a ship sets sail, there is a time to unmoor it and let it go on its journey.
Then there is the unmooring that is more like being adrift. When the ship is passively being moved and tossed by the waves and currents … when there is no one at the helm … then being unmoored is not good.
Matthew and Luke both tell a story about a time when Jesus and his disciples were in a boat and crossing over the lake known sometimes as the Sea of Galilee. While they were sailing across, Jesus fell asleep in the bow of the boat. Then gale force winds begins to sweep down on the lake and the boat was filling with water. In that moment the disciples knew they were unmoored. They began to panic to the point that they themselves had become spiritually unmoored … filled with nothing but fear.
They awoke Jesus shouting, “We are going to drown! Don’t you care that we are drowning?” At that Jesus got up, gave orders to the winds and the waves. The storm died down and calm overcame them.
Then , according to the story as told in Luke 8:25, he looked at the disciples and said, “Where is your faith?”
We live in a time of great fear. The rhetoric of our national political landscape is based on fear. Terrorism leaves us frightened and looking for bigger sticks with which to defend ourselves. Crime and violence of all kinds darken our landscape. We fear when unexplained things happen, and we live in fear that we might not be in control or have enough security or enough resources to survive the day.
And fear tends to take hold in the church. In Texas, we have new gun laws that permit licensed gun holders to openly carry guns, and we continue to grow more fearful about acts of hatred and violence spilling over into the church. We live under the threat of church shootings and other random acts of violence.
In our own church family, we are talking about how to be more inclusive of all people, no matter who they are, and that includes people who are often excluded from other churches. With that comes fear of the hate rhetoric that disguises itself as Christian dialogue. Just having the conversation creates fear because we don’t know how people will react to our talk about radical hospitality and a love that is truly unbounded.
After attending a training conference on security in places of worship, I was again confronted with the darkness that covers our world. After eight hours of videos and stories that warned of things that can happen in church, it’s not easy for me to clear my head. I was again seeking to be moored to something solid … something secure and certain.
Just as my head was clearing, a friend of mine just had two people (who were dressed oddly and who were of a race different that most of the people in his own congregation) come to church on Sunday and interrupt the service to “give a warning” to the church using the book of Revelation. This created fear among people (not only within his church but in other churches in the community). When I spoke with him about it, however, my friend has chosen to think about their “prophecy” as a witness to their understanding of scripture instead of hearing it as a threat.
He is moored. I am not so sure I would be as moored … as grounded … to be able to interpret something that scary as perhaps being a very real message from God to a church. He even reminded me that Jesus scared people in his own religious community and was driven out because of the fear they experienced.
And it suddenly occurred to me that the dock I was moored to is a dock made of human strength and might. It is made from money and power and resources that I know how to use. It is my own brand of security … whether we are talking about money, real estate, guns, prestige, power or anything else that I count on for security.
Now we’re in the middle of the lake in a storm and all we have is Jesus … and Jesus is asleep.
The storms are blowing and our ship is filling with water. Worry and fear crowd our minds. So we awake Jesus and shout, “Don’t you care that we are dying here?” And with a word, Jesus calms the storms and then asks one of the most cogent questions he ever asked: “Where is your faith?”
Where is my faith? Oh, yes, my faith was only in that dock that I built with my own hands. The one I frantically created out of my worry and my fear about safety and security. And Jesus bids me look once again at where I am right now. I’m unmoored, but the sea is calm … the storm is over … Jesus spoke the word. In truth, I was moored all along. I just didn’t see it.
I was moored to Jesus … my faith was the mooring line … and I was just about to let go of it when Jesus asked me where it was. It’s right here. It is based on the love of a God who will never let go of me. It is based on the knowledge that following Christ is not easy and can be pretty scary sometimes. But more importantly, it is based on the knowledge that when we are moored to Christ, nothing … NOTHING … will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Moor yourselves to Christ! Find your mooring line … your faith … and then face the darkness and the fear. Ultimately, the boat got across the lake and the disciples discovered that they had been safely moored to a Savior the whole time! Where is your faith?