Be Still and Know That I am God
This happened to me several summers ago, in 1993, on a spiritual retreat. I was one of the leaders on the retreat, and we were doing all of the exercises with the participants. We did not believe ourselves to be ahead of them, we just believed we were 'guides' along the way. I had been honored to have been chosen to help create, design and now lead part of this retreat. I was very grateful to be there, and filled with anticipation. I was leading the assignment, which was to review one of several offered scripture passages, and meditate upon them. This particular assignment was to envision the scene, and see what was brought to our attention as we read the story out loud to ourselves, then imagined it. We were off alone, and at the end of the designated time, would be re-gathered to share what had happened. I had chosen the New King James Version of Matthew 14:22-33, as below:
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into
the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when
He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when
evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by
the waves, for the wind was contrary.
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."
And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."
Here's what happened to me. I risk rebuke from those that will not like what they read, but I tell you that this is what happened, no matter what any of our beliefs are. For this assignment, I had found a picnic table to sit at, and as instructed, read the above out loud, then closed my eyes:
First Vision: The Lookout
After a short while, I saw the water, tossing and turning. I felt tossed and turned by the water, as well. I was envisioning the scene as if I was at the bow of the boat, a lookout, looking forward. Then I noticed a figure, walking on the water, toward the boat I was in! Incredible! I couldn't believe it! I heard myself say, "It is a ghost!" He said something back, but I couldn't hear him because of the storm. I heard a voice behind me, and there, amidships, Peter was saying something back, then he stepped out onto the water! I watched as he and Jesus walked toward each other, and I got scared for the storm was still blowing hard. I called out to Peter to be careful, he must have heard me because he turned his head a little, then he looked around and started sinking. Jesus pulled him up and brought him on board. As soon as Jesus got in the boat the storm stopped. Instantly. I got down on my knees and put my head to the deck in awe.
I noticed that I had my head down on the table, was amazed at what I had just experienced, and was ready to go back and tell the group! This was great! Wow! As I stood up to leave, I clearly heard a voice in my head, gently and firmly say to me, "Be still, and know that I am God." I took that to be the nicest "Sit down and shut up, I'm not finished talking to you" that I had ever heard in my life. So I sat down. Remembering the earlier instructions, I re-read the scripture, and closed my eyes again.
Second Vision: Peter
The tossing and turning came back relatively quickly, but this time something was different. I was not at the bow of the ship, but I could see someone up there. A lookout. He was pointing at something out on the water and yelling, or trying to yell over the storm. I looked where he was pointing, noticing that I was amidships, and saw ... someone walking on the water as if they were on a stroll in the park. It was Jesus! I couldn't believe it! Did that crowd we just leave go back and massacre him? What happened? He told us not to be afraid, so I challenged Him saying, "If it's really you, tell me to come to you now!" He waved his hand, motioning for me to come to him! It really was Him! It really was! So I stepped out over the side and started walking towards him, at a half-trot, like at the end of a romantic movie when the two lovers run toward each other in slow motion. I was amazed by Him, He was glowing, He was smiling, He was wonderful. My focus on Him was broken when I heard the lookout yell, "Be Careful", so I looked around me to see what he was talking about, and got scared. I had been so excited that I forgot about the storm, the wind, the lake. The lake! I was on water! I started sinking when I asked Jesus to help and He took my arm, and I was okay. We walked back to the ship with me holding on, and once we got in, the storm stopped. There was the lookout, on his knees, so I got down, too.
There I was, head on the table again. Wow! I never ever thought that someone else had broken Peter's concentration like that. I still don't know if that is what really happened, but that's part of what I saw, twice now. Again, I was ready to leave and as I stood up I heard the same voice, just as patient and firm saying, "Be still, and know that I am God." I sat down, I read, I closed my eyes and saw ...
Third Vision: Jesus
The water came back, tossing and turning. But I wasn't. The wind was howling, my clothes flowing in it, but I was calm. I saw the ship coming toward me ... AND I STOPPED THE VISION. I opened my eyes in protest, that I did not deserve to see this from Christ's point of view, and started to stand. Yes, you have probably guessed what happened next. But let me tell you anyway. I heard a voice, firmer this time. It clearly said two sentences at the same time, and I heard them both clearly, as if one sentence was going in one ear, and the other sentence was going in the other ear. One sentence was "If you do not let me wash your feet, you will have no part of me", and the other was "Be still and know that I am God." I felt I had no option, I sat down, closed my eyes and let it continue, with reservations as to my worthiness to see what I would see.
There was the ship, it was a small fishing vessel, with a ragged looking lookout in the bow. The sails were flapping, it was tossing and turning. They were not having a good day. I felt their confusion, fear, loneliness, pain and then ... amazement and the lookout called me a ghost! They though that the crowd that wanted to king me had killed me! They didn't know what a great time I had just had with my Father on the mountain. I told them it was me, and sure enough, Peter challenged Me, so I told him to come to me. Just like I told him to follow me several months ago. He came out without even thinking about what was going on around him, I could tell he was so excited to see me! He was thrilled and oblivious to everything around him, until the lookout called out to him to be careful. That's when he realized what he was doing, and started to sink. I took his arm after he called out, and we walked the rest of the way to the boat together. When we got in, they were all on the knees, following the lookout's example. I could tell he felt awful about interrupting Peter's focus on me, but he didn't know any better, yet.
This time I opened my eyes head up, and I was drained. I felt exhausted. After sitting there a minute or so, I knew that now God had shown me enough, so I slowly started to get up. I did not resist when that voice, ever so gently said, "Be still, and know that I am God." I sat down, re-read the scripture again, and slowly closed my eyes, wondering what could possibly be next.