Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Boat, Night and the Sea

Written by: on September 12, 2013

I had just finished eating while taking in a stunning sunset located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. And now, the time had come, what I had waited for and long anticipating for almost 35 years, a ride across the Sea of Galilee at night.  I could hardly contain myself as I walked down the long dock preparing to board the old wooded boat.  With the sun still just peaking above Mt. Arbel from the West, we began our trip across the sea towards the other side.  Here’s the picture I took as we pulled away.


That amazing night in May of 2008 was extremely significant for two reasons.  One, since the time I was six years old my favorite story in the New Testament was Jesus calming the storm on the Sea.  I have always been intrigued by wondering what each disciple was thinking, how warm the air felt that night, how much room was actually in the boat and how Jesus was asleep in the middle of a storm.  Second, one of my favorite paintings of all time is Rembrandt’s 1633 depiction of this same event, named “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee”.

This past week while reading “The Sacred Gaze” by David Morgan I was struck by the concept that images are better understood as an integral part of visual practice, which is a visual meditation of relations among a particular culture and how that culture relates to a broader understanding of the world. More specifically, I realized that Rembrandt’s painting has shaped my view of scripture, and gave visual symbolism which enabled me to connect deeper with God as well as others.

Communicate With the Divine… As I observe Rembrandt’s painting, my senses are drawn into the scene.  Fear, doubt, worry, conviction, shame and finally belief enter the picture.  My understanding of God has been increased, and that which was two dimensional on a page now became three dimensional in my soul.  The use of my visual senses, which God created for the purpose of worship, drew me to a place where, I asked myself the question, “Would I fear the storm or would I trust with deep faith?”

Imagine Community… Visual creations allow time to be transported.  While studying Rembrandt’s painting for a period of time, I began to connect with the disciples. It doesn’t take long to realize that we are just like them.  Fragile, quick to act in our own strength, always wanting to power up, not listening to what has already been promised and certainly not at peace.  These men transform from being disciples to brothers in the faith.


The Middle of The Sea

That night in the middle of the sea, we paused.  At this point the sun had set and darkness was upon us.  Only the distant lights of Tiberias to the West and the Golan Heights to the East could be seen.  After having the guide stop the boat he turned the engine off.  All of sudden we were in complete silence. It was profound as well as unnerving.  I had picked out a few New Testament passages to read and contemplate on while on the sea.  While reading Mt. 8:23-25, all of sudden this incredible wind picked up, the Sea which just a few seconds before looked like glass was now tossing us about.  30 seconds later, as fast as it came, the winds went away.  Never have I connected deeper through Rembrandt’s 1633 visual image of “The Storm on The Sea of Galilee” and Jesus’ profound teaching of the disciples in Mt. 8.

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Richard Rhoads

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