Last summer my friends Ellen and Sandy and I traveled down to Seward, Alaska for a few days of recreation. Seward is a lovely little seaport town on the Kenai Peninsula, and it overlooks Resurrection Bay. Ships of all sorts come there, unloading cargo and fish at the processing plant, as do tourists and sport fishermen. One road bisects the town, and ends up skirting the mountains some five miles away. A small building there caters to the tourists and fishermen. Made of rough lumber, the walkways are bedecked with fishing nets and gear of all sorts. We had heard that it had a fire and was destroyed, but much to our delight we found that only a small part of it was involved, and that they had re-built it to where it was almost identical to the original. A wood-burning fireplace was the center attraction, as was the large house dog roaming around. People sat on wooden benches drinking mugs of hot coffee. And there was a new addition: a small gift shop with various nautical items.
As I wandered about, I saw something that I wanted to purchase; a small pillow, perhaps 8x12 inches, covered with a tapestry picture of a lighthouse and the sea. On it were these words: "Roll with the tide..." I brought it home with me, more as a conversation piece rather than for any practical reason. However, it soon became my "Linus" blanket, as that little pillow seemed to fit places on my body that its big cousins couldn't. Linus (for those who don't know) was a small cartoon character who was always dragging around his blanket wherever he went as a place to hide under whenever needing comfort. Hence, whenever my back or neck were starting to hurt a bit, I reached for Linus. He fit perfectly in otherwise inaccessible places!
The reason I am writing about it is because it became a reminder to me of the presence of God in my life. For there are situations in which nothing seems to comfort--not friends, not a good book, not a cup of Douwe Eggbert coffee; as much as I love and enjoy all of these things. "Roll with the tide" is a message that stops me short of complaining, of losing my grip with lack of strength and ability. I can relax and revel in the comfort of floating on top of the situation--by simply letting Linus into the spots that need comforting and myself doing nothing at all.
I remember one of the two times I almost drowned. I was about twelve years old and had gone to a small tank for a swim with some other girlfriends. A "tank" was nothing more than a bulldozed depression in the ground where rainwater accumulated for the thirsty cattle; not a very clean place, but all we had. I decided to dive off into the water and see how deep it was. But that silly idea let me experience a horrible event: the bottom of the tank was pitch dark! I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face! And I became disoriented--with air running out. Which way was up? Desperate and confused, I knew I would soon drown. Then suddenly I heard a voice, "Be still!" And so I relaxed a few seconds and then realized that my body was beginning to float--upward! Now I knew where "up" was and exploded to the top, my lungs screaming for air. In doing NOTHING, I had produced SOMETHING. So simply doing nothing at all is, in itself, actually doing something--whether we realize it or not. And it may turn out to be the most powerful and essential secret to miracles.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit, the "Comforter...a kind of Linus. He would fit exactly into every crevice of doubt and fear giving us calm relief from every pain and discomfort of life. Faith without works is dead, being alone. In this particular case, my faith was directed toward the words that came to me: "Be still". But obedience to that Word was what spared me. I can have my Linus nearby, but it is only when I mentally pick it up and place where it is needful will it do me any good at all.
Yesterday I needed Linus. A visit to my cancer doctor was not such a grand time; she wants me to undergo chemotherapy...again. My Igm levels are getting too high. Having been through four bouts of cancer over the last 30 years, I know this procedure is not pleasant and has side-effects. It can make me very weak and my immune system compromised, my hair falling out, dehydration. Also, I already had my own plans; longing to go south to Texas and Florida and visit family and friends. Now those journeys would have to be put off again....for several months. I was disappointed, but in my mind I knew what I must do. I must reach for my Linus and roll with the tide. For I have distant shores I want to visit.
Ever stopped to think about those big ships that come into a harbor? Several miles out, the boat captain will call the harbormaster for the tugboats. When they arrive, he cuts his engines and allows them to take over, nosing the big vessel into a safe berth in the harbor. It is an effortless glide on his part. His ship is no longer being guided by himself. Doing nothing was producing something.
Jesus was constantly teaching this lesson. "Fear not; O ye of little faith." "Be of good cheer." "Have no anxious care." Yet, we fight against the waves of fear and struggle through our pain and weakness with all the energy we can muster, desperately fighting to survive the onslaughts of the enemy. And the more we struggle, the tighter gets the rope, until all our strength is exhausted and we give in and drown.
Just watching the sea is a lesson in life. It is rarely calm, but ebbs and flows backwards and forward 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, always. It may take many months for something to reach a shore, and during all that time the object effortlessly floats on top until one day high tide will deposit it far enough above the shoreline that it will cease its long journey completely delivered! Mission accomplished!
So which way is up for me now? How do I find it? I will listen to that still, small voice that never leaves me nor forsakes me and snuggle up with My Comforter, the Holy Spirit. My "Linus".
Perhaps that's why Jesus could sleep so soundly in the back of the ship through that storm on the Sea of Galilee, even knowing what kind of dangers were present and what lay ahead.
He simply walked on the water, rolled with the tide, and left the final docking up to ministering angels....
MARY E. ADAMS