Beside a large and peaceful lake, while the nearby city lie asleep,
How slowly did I walk the dark, how softly did I weep.
Tears of hurt and sorrow; tears that rooted pain provokes.
I looked out on the water, and to the night, I spoke.
“God,” I prayed into the air, “I don’t know what to say.
I wish this storm in my life was over; it just won’t go away.
The truth is I am lost and you don’t seem to care,
For now I need you most of all but can’t find you anywhere.
I hurt so much; I need you. A broken heart can’t mend itself.
Am I speaking to a sovereign king or simply to myself?”
These words I uttered on that shore, words of broken despair,
When presently I heard a voice that cut the midnight air:
“Why are you here, in early morn, alone upon this shore?
What drove you to this quiet place, who are you looking for?”
I snapped around to behold a man about my height,
He wore the rugged outfit of a sailor; he had a lantern as his light.
I wanted him to leave me be, yet I said “Sir, if you must insist,
I’m here searching for a missing person, though I’m not sure He exists.”
The stranger asked, “Why do you doubt? I am able, I think, to help you see.”
I said “I call His name and seek Him, but He does not come to me.”
It was then I felt a chill. I gazed around the lake’s coast.
Thick fog had come upon me like an immense and ominous ghost.
The stranger spoke, “My name is Emmanuel, my vessel is nearby.
I have felt it calling out to me and so I’ve come now to its side.”
I looked upon the water for this vessel; through the fog I saw a boat.
How did I not see it before? How did I not take note?
The ship was but a large rowboat, perhaps fifteen feet in length.
Two oars were rigged and ready. It looked quaint, secure, and safe.
“It’s beautiful.” Emmanuel exclaimed. “Its meekness is its glory.
Friend, take a ride out on the lake with me and let me hear your story.”
This man seemed very kind. He was old and could not do me harm.
I climbed into the boat. He rowed out on the water, an oar beneath each arm.
Thus we rowed upon the lake. The waters below reflected my face.
When Emmanuel broke through surface; my image changed in shape.
He spoke, “Tell me son, why do you walk the night alone?
Have you no friends or family, have you no place called home?”
“I have them all,” I answered him as I lost sight of the shore,
“They bring me shades of comfort, but my heart needs something more.
I don’t know what to think or do; I don’t know how to act,
Why did God depart me; when is He coming back?
It is guidance that I seek when I look upon the cross.
Why do I know not where I go? Why do I feel so lost?”
Emmanuel did not answer. What could he say to so much doubt?
This seemed another waste of time; another “friend” who could not help me out.
Then I gazed around and worry came; the fog was growing exceedingly dense.
I could not see to where we went or from where we had come since.
I felt anxious, lost and scared; “Emmanuel!” I called,
“Does this fog not make you worried? I cannot see at all!”
I squinted up my eyes; I looked this way and that,
I said “Emmanuel, let us use your light to see where we are at.”
“Yes of course,” Emmanuel said. “This is indeed a dismal night.
I will hang my lamp affront this ship and it will be your light.”
He hung the lantern on the bow and then turned to me to say:
“This light of mine will set you straight and it will guide your way.
Although this fog is thick and damp and although cold winds blow,
My beacon brings you guidance. It shows you where to go.
My light I give to you, my son, so your ship won’t run aground,
You asked me for direction, direction’s what you’ve found.”
“As I was saying,” I went on, “I very rarely mope and pout.
But when others speak of God’s control, I feel a sense of doubt.
I once believed that God came through; did things I don’t know how,
But He seems so very distant. Where is my Savior now?”
Suddenly, there came a jerk that threw me to the deck.
I screamed “There is debris before our ship. We will come apart! We will wreck!”
We bounced off logs, going left and right. I called to Emmanuel as I lie on my chest,
“I need you to steer me through! I need your guidance through this mess.”
Emmanuel grabbed the oars but still we pitched; I felt his steering must be failing.
Then quite suddenly it ended; our boat was controlled and smoothly sailing.
I got up, relieved, relaxed, and said, “Emmanuel you caused me worry.
It took you long to calm this boat; why did you choose not to hurry?”
Emmanuel had a solemn look. “You speak of things you do not know.
Although obstacles stood in your way, I was at all times in control.
You chose not to feel peace, yet this boat was at my will,
You should trust in my control. Next time don’t fret, be still.”
“As I was saying,” I went on, “My life is a shipwreck each day.
I feel like God won’t help me; it’s like He’d let me blow away.
I ask for strength in hardship, and comfort when I sleep,
But I cry at night for hours. I’m broken. I’m helpless. I’m weak.”
Just then a crack tore through the night and rain began to pour,
Waves and wind struck the boat and knocked me to the floor.
I screamed, “This storm is way too big, and this boat is old and weak.
This is beyond all I can handle. I’ll surely drown; I’ll surely sink.”
Emmanuel ran off and leaned over the far side of the boat.
I yelled, “Emmanuel, this is hopeless. Please keep the ship afloat!”
But Emmanuel kept on, despite my franticness and tears.
I thought, “Great, when I need him most, my ‘savior’ disappears.”
“He’ll save me,” I thought to myself, “I trust he’ll pull me through.
I’ll give him my faith, my hope. I’ve nothing else that I can do.”
But the waves and wind grew bigger, the boat just kept on rocking,
The storm just kept on raging; it showed no signs of stopping.
But soon, very soon, it ended. No winds or rain but calm instead.
I stood and glared at Emmanuel, and as he drew near I said:
“You fraud, you joke!” I shook with rage. “I trusted you to stay.
I thought you would be here for me but you were deaf and far away.”
“I had faith you’d see me through but when I looked around,
I realized that you had failed me, for you could not be found.
When the storm was at its worst, in my desperate, darkest hour,
You proved that you are worthless; you showed you have no power.”
I waited for an answer. I almost began to cry.
Emmanuel looked right at me; he gave a heavy sigh.
“You of little faith,” He said. “When you yelled across the boat,
I was dropping anchor off the port to keep the ship afloat.
You looked to me for comfort. You saw me yet found none,
Most assuredly, the best thing that could happen, I made sure was done.
Many people need my peace whose hearts and lives are falling through,
But they often fail to feel my peace for they know not what they do.”
Then fog engulfed us wholly, only to dissipate and be parted,
And I was back beside the lake where the whole adventure started.
Emmanuel stood beside me; it seemed that years had passed.
Then I closed my eyes and spoke; “Who are you?” I asked.
“I am your captain,” said the voice. “I am in control through night and day.
I will steer you through your hardship; I will guide you on your way.
I am your lantern in the lead, my warmth and brightness near.
I will light your way in darkness; I will make your pathways clear.
I am the anchor, strong and true, and though trials do come on,
I will hold you in your darkest nights. I will see you to the dawn.
I am the storms, by which you grow; my rains will make your faith anew.
I will use those times of trials and tears to prove my love for you.”
I opened my eyes and saw that I was standing there alone,
Yet I had never felt such presence than that night as I walked home.
The next time I am in a storm, in the midst of hurt and pain,
I will trust this vessel to my Captain; I will dance within the rain.