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Profanity on a Dark Night

Many years ago, when I was still a very young man, I stomped through a lightless night as a soldier doing soldier things. Sometimes soldiers get a little salty with their language. In those days, I was no exception. Apparently, my friends and I did not consider a sentence to be grammatically correct unless it contained a subject, a verb, and at least one profanity. In fact, profanities often replaced subjects, verbs, adjectives, and other more traditional parts of speech.

At the time I considered myself a Christian, but had not given a great deal of thought to how I saw the world around me. On this particular night, my mood was not the best and my colorful grammar was reflecting it. As soldiers are often wont to do, I was complaining.  Someone came up to me in the darkness and started a conversation. The dimness of the night prevented visual recognition, and I responded to the man’s cheerful attempt at engagement with a string of words I would be ashamed to use today. Although I did not recognize his face in the obsidian night, I did, after a few moments, recognize his voice. I had heard it before.

In the chapel.

On Sunday mornings.

From the pulpit.

The point of that story is that we sometimes miss important things because we are not looking for them. In this instance, I was not looking for a world that might be influenced or unduly offended by my use of language, or my Christian representation.  The disciples have a different, but very similar problem in Mark 6:41-52.  They had just witnessed Jesus perform a miracle by feeding thousands of people with just a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. They were having difficulty wrapping their head around that, and never really understood it (Mark 6:52). Later, when they were in a boat on stormy waters, Jesus walked right past them on the water (Mark 6:49), but they thought he was a ghost.  They didn’t recognize him!  There are probably many reasons for this, but one of them may be that they weren’t looking for him! Thankfully, he got in their boat and calmed their storm.

Is Jesus walking anywhere in your life? Have you looked for him? Are you missing what he’s doing? Are you going to let him in your boat?

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