"When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea." - Mark 4:45-56
This sentence from Mark is just one example of the peculiar way the Bible often has of describing extraordinary events. Jesus walking on water is surely one of the major astounding things in the entire New Testament. And yet here it's related almost as an afterthought, a minor detail, as in "she stepped off the curb, into a puddle."
You'd think there might be a little more build-up to a spectacle like this, some mention of the urgency Jesus felt to get out to the boat full of disciples by the most direct route. But no, he sees them in trouble and goes over to help, "walking on the sea." No drama at all, just a flat statement.
This does often seem to be the way longed-for good news or desperately-needed help arrives in our lives. Without fanfare or advance notice, often after you've stopped waiting and wishing for it—there it simply is, like your lost dog sitting on the back steps. The job offer from an interview last year. The college acceptance letter amid a pile of rejections. The positive pregnancy test after years of infertility. You can't believe it, you thank God, you look twice to make sure it's really true.
When you're straining at the oars against an adverse wind, remember that at any moment you might look up and see salvation walking toward you, even if that seems as impossible as walking on water.
Dear God, thanks for the good news we thought we'd never get, the perfectly possible we always thought would take a miracle. Amen.
Christina Villa is the former Director of Publishing, Identity, and Communications for the United Church of Christ.