A Pastor's Faith in a Single Photo


Rev. Jonathan Chapman shared an inspiring post on his Instagram account after spending the last half of February in the Holy Land. He and his group celebrated Ash Wednesday at St. George's in Jerusalem, as well. You can read the full text of his photo below.

I’ve been swiping through the hundreds of photos I took while abroad trying to pick just one that somehow encompassed everything that I encountered during my fourteen days as a pilgrim in the Holy Land. I’ve got pictures of majestic countrysides and striking cityscapes. I’ve got shots of ruins and churches. But this is the one that my heart keeps returning to.

It’s one of the first I took while roaming the hills of Galilee. We were at Capernaum, Jesus’ adult hometown, when I walked over to the shoreline of Lake Tiberias (known to us Bible dorks as the Sea of Galilee). There was a single fishing boat making its way in front of me.

In this picture, the only thing you can really identify is the boat, the waves it’s making, and the shore line. The lake and the sky blend together in a nearly-seamless haze.

It turns out, this is my faith in a single photo.

You see, the boat is the Gospel. And it’s sailing along on a sea of history and tradition that provides context and meaning. And then there’s our stuff—the baggage we carry from our families, churches, and lives that sometimes makes things hazy.

And somehow, despite my best attempts at the spiritual life, I always feel like I’m on the shore longing to be in that boat sailing on history and tradition through the hazy skies of our messy lives. I want to be on the boat, but I’m drawn to the easy comforts of the shore like a magnet.

Here’s the thing about pilgrimage: It helps you realize that the comforts of the shore aren’t yours to hold anymore.

These two weeks, in ways I couldn’t even imagine, have helped me hitch a ride on that Gospel ship. It’s been remarkable, insightful, informative, and faith-forming in the best ways.

And now there’s only one thing left to do: cast off and set sail.
— Rev. Jonathan Chapman