As the wind blows, the canoe moves farther into the lake. How did I get talked into this? I pull my jacket closer, feeling the cold wind moving faster and watching the waves get higher. In the middle of the lake, the deepest part, we stop. Two people sit with me in the canoe: my friend Jason, a teenager who had his right leg amputated seven months ago, and now has cancer in every bone in his body; and Jason’s father, Edward, a veteran who barely speaks.
We are here because Jason wanted to see the water, sit in the canoe, and hear the waves, just as he did when he was a child. We sit in silence as the water moves the canoe slowly and often violently.
“Do you ever wonder who you would be if you lived in biblical days?” Jason is asking the question. I see Edward flinch. He told me there was no room for religion in his life. I look across the lake. Who would I be?
I tell Jason I would be the woman running after Jesus to touch the hem of His garment. I would push through the crowd because I knew He could heal me.
Jason looks at me. “What if you couldn’t walk? You knew you had to run to catch Him, but you couldn’t walk.” He points to his amputated leg. His tone is one of sadness, not anger.
I remember when Edward told me about his son’s surgery. He showed no emotion, presenting only facts: “Jason will have to learn to walk again.”
“I would be Peter in the storm on the boat,” says Jason. “I would jump over the side and run, not walk, toward Jesus.”
Jason stares ahead at the lake, as if he can see the event unravel. “I wouldn’t doubt. Jesus wouldn’t have to remind me not to doubt. I would run across the water.”
Edward looks down. Silence. In the silence I see quiet tears run down Jason’s cheek and fall on his shoulders. I close my eyes. God, keep the Holy Spirit among us; comfort us all. I cannot do this alone.
Suddenly I hear Jason’s voice, determined, firm, but kind. “You have to learn to walk for me, Dad. The boat is rocking and the storm is fierce and there is one Person who can save us both. I need you to be in that boat, to jump into the water and learn how to walk. I need to see you in heaven.”
I hold my breath as I see father and son look at one another. This is the true meaning of our journey: a plea for salvation.
“My son, I would be the centurion. I would say, ‘Speak the word, and my son will be healed.’ ” Edward’s voice quivers. “I will learn to walk for you.”
• • • • • • •
Close to shore Jason’s head is on my lap, and he is sleeping. Edward rows to shore, picks up his son, and gently places him in the car. I follow, watching the footprints Edward leaves in the mud—deep prints because he is carrying his son.
Heavenly Father, help him learn how to walk, and let the Holy Spirit inspire him to keep walking.