It is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, at over 27 miles long and 15 miles wide. Flathead Lake is flanked on either side by scenic highways, and in the spring you’ll want to travel the east side, where miles of cherry orchards bloom pink. Once you get around the lake, it’s less than a half an hour to my house.
One day, Matt and I had a weekend getaway that included a balcony overlooking Flathead Lake. In the evening, we left our hotel room and took a stroll, to enjoy the mountains and the sound of water gently lapping against the dock. After our romantic walk, we put on swimsuits and went to relax in the heated hotel pool. (The Flathead is always an ice bath, in case my southern friends are wondering why we left a picturesque lake, to go inside to swim.)
Through the picture windows at the pool, we watched the sky change from clear to black in a matter of a few minutes. A gale pushed the lake water into whitecaps. The weather was fierce and the water terrifying for a short spell. Soon it was quiet again.
It’s a beautiful lake.
But it’s a dangerous lake, because storms like this can come up unexpectedly, and you don’t want to get caught on a little fishing boat when that happens.
All that to say, this is an image of my brain: Placid. Storm rising out of nowhere. Placid again.
It’s beautiful. It’s dangerous.
And I wonder how God can love a girl who thinks this way. My thoughts are not the steady, backwater type. I have an artist’s temperament, and I think that makes my thoughts list to one side or the other more than most people’s do.
The other night, I was awake as usual with insomnia. Sitting on the couch, I had my Bible open and was spending some time with the Lord, in the quiet of the house. I was talking to him about my tumultuous brain, lamenting the ups and downs of my thinking. But a story about Jesus came to mind.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
(John 6:16-21 NIV)
Jesus walked on the white caps.
I caught my breath, as I imagined Jesus walking to me during one of my mental storms, when my keel is anything but even. He is calm and in command of the elements.
He walks on the whitecaps.
Matt! I thought to myself. This is just like what Matt has done for me these 25 years. A husband is supposed to love his wife, and I realized he has loved my mind –my obsessive thinking, creative ideas, insecurities, introversion, extreme passions, and nonconformist tendencies. He has been like Jesus to me –walking calmly on the waters of my turbulent mental processes.
Peace, be still. A strong chest. A listening ear. An innate understanding of where my thoughts are going.
“You knew I was like this when you married me,” I say often.
“Yes, I knew,” he replies.
To be loved is to have someone perceive your thoughts and choose to walk to you on those waters anyway.
So I say to you, Jesus created your mind, and he loves it. He knows exactly how you think, and he still wants to be in relationship with you. He is not afraid of storms that come in the form of anxiety, anger, or confusion. If he has power over the natural elements of wind and waves, certainly he has power over brain function and has the ability to steady your mind.
He will come to you.