O Love That Will Not Let Me Go (Ros' Blog)

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go (Ros' Blog)

I watch the young woman as she walks from the car park into church, labouring with unsteady gait on legs which find the instructions from her conscious mind scrambled before they reach them by the multiple sclerosis. Nonetheless, her stride is determined and competent – a bit like mine, I think, the day when, as a fourteen-year-old I stood on the deck of a thirty foot Bermuda rigged sloop hired by my father for one of the annual sailing holidays he ran for young people.

Together with another crew member I was frantically hauling down the mainsail and making it fast, as a squall, which had blown up from nowhere, suddenly slammed into the side of our yacht, a squall which, we were later to hear on the shipping report, gusted to force 11. I remember the difficulty in remaining upright, the conscious thought with which I had to place my feet for every step, just like that young woman on her way into church.

And that in turn reminds me of another man who, at a word from Jesus, has taken a daring gamble and now finds himself balancing on an unsteady sea, thrilled with a previously undreamed-of adrenaline rush even while every step requires a new intensity of concentration. He can see his friend and Lord laughing with delight at his difficulty and his progress, and for a moment it’s not the howling gale but the exhilaration that is taking his breath away.

But then his rational brain begins to take over. It gradually occurs to him, not that a man can’t walk on water (for hasn’t he just seen Jesus doing that?) but that you can’t do it when the wind is this strong and the waves are this big. And at that moment as he opens the door for doubt to come in, and faith begins to slink out past it, he suddenly finds himself plunged to his chest in a shock of cold water, frantically thrusting his arms towards his Friend with a cry of, “Jesus! Save me!”

Jesus steps forward with a quiet, “Oh!” of disappointment, then a tut, and finally a chuckle of endearment, as his powerful arms take hold of fourteen stone of fisherman and haul him to his feet. He wraps Peter in a bear hug that chases the chill out of his body and, looking deep into his eyes, roars above the wind with an affectionate grin and a slap on the back, “You man of little faith! Why did you have to start doubting?”

And what about us, when we let go of our trust in God and allow our circumstances to overwhelm us – do we struggle independently in our shame and self-disillusionment, desperately trying to keep our chins above water? Or do we instinctively reach out to Jesus and cease the self-effort, allowing Him to haul us to our feet and embrace us with His warmth and strength, maybe chiding us a little for our lack of faith, but more than anything laughing with us as He proves to us the unfailing certainty of a love that will not let us go?

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