The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. ” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. Mark 8:14-16
Have you ever been so anxious that you cannot hear? Trapped inside a world of nerves and chaos? There is someone talking to you but they are distant, as you hem and haw about that thing you are centered on? Anxiety is a waster, a spender of your day. An unnecessary intrusion and interference that wreaks havoc on the enjoyment of life. It is a thief and a liar.
I have suffered with anxiety most of my life. Most days it is manageable, others it is not. It is an unidentifiable emotion, a panic, the inability to form words or have any other thoughts except those that pierce the soul. God asks me to trust Him and I do, even on days that I am afraid.
Yesterday on our day off, my husband suggested that we drive to Key Largo for a day of kayaking. I was thinking more along the lines of an arts festival. But family vote rules in my home and the kids wanted to head down to the Keys. I kept my creeping anxiety quiet and my demons at bay.
I was secretly hoping that the kids would back out, but they didn’t. Then my littlest grew wrought with fear. She was paralyzed and just wouldn’t get into the boat. I gathered every bit of awarding winning actress inside of me and said.
“It’s going to be so much fun! Look I am going too! There is nothing to be afraid of because daddy is with us. “
It didn’t seem to move her. Well, maybe it moved her into the boat, but it did not stop her shrieks of terror.
We headed out into open water. My son and I on one boat and my husband and the girls on the other. On a perfectly sunny day my insides were racing and my littlest was screaming. My son was telling me which way to paddle, but I could not hear him. My ears were clogged with fear.
And so it was for the disciples in today’s gospel reading. They were also getting on a boat to venture off to another shore when they realized that they had forgotten to bring bread. Thoughts and hearts began to race.
How will we eat? What will we do?
Mind you, God himself was in the boat with them, the bread of life.
Jesus tries to teach them a lesson but to no avail. They are inside of themselves, wrapped up in their anxious thoughts. They are stuck on fear, will they die from lack of food? Who will take care of them? Jesus has to ask them a series of questions before he can move them, before their attention is turned towards Him and not on their anxious thoughts.
And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up? Mark 8:18(b)-19
He catches their attention with that. He realizes that He won’t be able to get through to them until He pierces through their anxiety. Until they remember what He has done for them, the miracles they have witnessed and the truth that He has always provided enough for them, and then some.
At some point during the kayak trip I heard my son.
“Right mommy right! Left mommy left! “
We were in open water when I realized I had Jesus with me in the boat. That day it wasn’t my husband, it was my son.
Anxiety is a hard demon to contend with. When I am anxious, remind me that you are here with me and that you will provide what I need and even more than that. Help me to let go of my anxious thoughts and replace them with your thoughts. For your thoughts and ways are heavenly, and Holy Spirit infused. I lean on you Jesus and remember that I am never alone.
In your Holy Name I Pray,