Lessons and Fear


By Bryan Long
January/February 2015

A friend of mine called me for help. He wanted some sailing lessons for a 14-foot Barnett as well as wanting me to assist him with rigging the vessel. I gladly accepted and jumped into the project with little regard to my friend's knowledge of boating, sailing, or safety. So within a few minutes, I had the mast up, the outhaul, downhaul and running rigging all in place along with the other items needed. We hooked the trailer to his truck and drove less than 2/10ths of a mile to the launch. We got the boat in the water and I noticed some water in the cockpit, identified the source, bailed the water and tied off to the dock so we could prepare to hoist the main.

During all of this, my friend was asking multiple questions regarding the rigging, the water in the cockpit, the possibility of a storm, how would we get to shore once we picked up the mooring and other questions which should have clued me into the fact that he wasn't knowledgeable and/or tenured on the water and therefore was somewhat apprehensive. His apprehension was starting to turn ever so slightly toward fear. As I began to realize what seemed to be happening, I started to be more explicit with my explanations of what we were doing, how we would execute a gybe or tack and what the expected result should be. I spoke more about the good qualities of his purchase and how much fun this would be for him and his children. We made it to the mooring ball, waded ashore (5ft depth) and then checked the boat the next morning and found all was well.

It's easy to be overcome by fear as I know plenty of stable, rational people who have expressed their concerns regarding ISIS, income, family, etc....  I'm no stranger to fear as a sailor, dad, husband, and so forth. I, like many Christians, tend to migrate to the words from the prophet Isaiah1 "fear not for I am with you..." but a statement or directive to not do something seems to become passé once we've heard it so often.

For a little more in-depth discussion of fear, I look to the Disciples’ experience with Jesus in Mark.

"Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.' Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened."2

One aspect stands out to me as a massive reminder of how we can overcome fear. In verse 49 when the disciples saw Him, they "cried out", not because they knew it was Christ but because they thought He was a ghost and they were fearful. When they cried out, in verse 50, Christ acknowledged them and we know what happened thereafter. What's really interesting about this scripture is that in verse 48, the Bible says Christ saw them struggling and was coming toward them with the intention of passing them but when they saw him, they cried out and then he assisted.

Does this mean Christ sees us in our turmoil? Yes. Does this mean He's waiting for us to cry out? Probably. Did Christ want them to feel the shock of seeing a ghost and then calm them? Maybe. Why would I answer these questions with a little ambiguity? Well, the last verse of this passage clues me to the intent. "For they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their hearts were hardened."3 The disciples had just witnessed a massive feeding of thousands from very little food and were utterly astonished at the power of Christ. It seems that we are not very adept at learning and practicing the truths in His word. Even when we say "I'll believe it when I see it," we really don't. The disciples are proof of this, and so am I.

I've seen myself cry out in fear and experienced God's gracious supply to my need. I've been the person struggling in the middle of life's sea and when Christ's provision came, I didn't recognize it/him. I will admit, I'm a slow learner and need to record the times when I needed money for a bill or assistance to complete a task or wisdom on how to proceed with a situation and somehow the blessing came without me knowing how it was going to get done.

They say that you never know the material better than when you have to teach it. Well that can go for trying to glean truth from the scriptures as well. Here are a few takeaways for me from my experience teaching my friend to sail:

1. Prayer is a conversation, not a petition of wants. We need to listen as much or more than we speak. 
2. Scripture is critical to understanding who He is.
3. Nothing, and I mean Nothing, should ever leave our mouth, hands, heart without bathing it in prayer and sometimes fasting. 
4. If He sends you out into the middle of the sea and you encounter turmoil, don't forget His past faithfulness.  You may have to dig for it but I've definitely experienced it and can vouch for such.
5. Trust Him....You can! 
6. Don't forget to cry out and don't ever be ashamed to do so.

1 -Isaiah 41:10
2 -Mark 6:47-52
3 -Mark 6:52

About the Author

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  • Bryan_Long's picture

    Bryan Long is a singer/songwriter/worship leader and serves in full-time ministry through his local church and a local Christian radio station.  He and his family live on Watts Bar Lake in East TN where they Sail, Powerboat, Fish and serve in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.  Bryan is also the founder/overseer of Christiansailing.com which works with local marinas in establishing relationships with sailors who are seeking to grow and/or experience an authentic faith in Christ.

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