Thriving Devotional - April 22, 2020

The Cell and the Coracle

I’ve been writing the past couple of days about how the things the world is experiencing the past several weeks have the potential to be a true watershed, threshold moment. In addition to being a truly heartbreaking tragedy for some, and an inconvenience for others, it can be an opportunity to walk through it to something new on the other side. I don’t want to miss that opportunity – for me, my family, or for the church I pastor.

There are no maps for navigating this specific pandemic (as if that would give us a sense of control over it), but there is something better: God’s Word to frame it, and God’s Spirit to attend us and to use it for the formation of our souls, the dethroning of our idols, and the expanding of God’s kingdom. The account that Matthew portrays in chapter 14 (see yesterday’s post) is a compelling picture of what it means for us to step out into unknown each day.

When Peter steps out onto the water, he, of course, like us, gets distracted and overwhelmed and afraid and starts to sink. But even then, Jesus is right there to catch him. That’s our story, too.

As people whose theological heritage comes largely from Scotland, Ireland, and England, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to early Celtic Christian missionaries who left Ireland to be employed by God to reach others who didn’t know the good news about Jesus about 1500 years ago. One of the slogans of their movement was “the cell and the coracle.” We can guess what the cell is: the monks’ inner chamber of prayer and worship. But do you know what the coracle is? It was a crude boat made of wooden slats and sealed with pitch. Three or four missionaries would get in a coracle and pray, “Lord of the wind and the waves, take us your servants where you will.” And they would shove off the shore and let the winds and currents take them God knows where.

In a way that we could only begin to unravel, you and I are here today because of them.

What would happen if we approached each day like them? For one thing, we’d never get to school or to work. Let’s face it, it’s windy here. What I mean is, what if our prayer each morning—for ourselves, for our families, for one another, went something like this:

“Lord of the wind and the waves, in the midst of the storm today, you ARE. You are exalted. Command me to come to you, and send me where you will. Use these circumstances to accomplish your purpose in me. Help me to be brave. Help me not to be afraid. Help me walk like you.”

Bob Jacobs is Pastor of Westminster Church, Rapid City. Check out his personal blog at

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