By Carly Wheeler | Contributor
Imagine spending a week sailing in the Caribbean, learning about God and what it means to be uncomfortable. This was what freshman Josh Farrell experienced months after graduating high school.
With ministry group Expedition 61, Farrell flew to the Caribbean and boarded the 52-foot Catamaran sailboat. Late on the second night, with the boat anchored at the island St. Martin, the group participated in a time called "sacred silence." It began with worship and teaching, and ended with a time of silent reflection, journaling and praying. With the lights and engine of the boat turned off, the group began the time of silence.
Farrell sat up on a wooden platform on the starboard side, with his legs hanging through the rails, above the water. The moment was still, but while he was journaling, the wind began to pick up unexpectedly, becoming colder than it should've been for the Caribbean. As the wind blew harder, the pages of Farrell's journal started flipping, and he could no longer write.
"So then, I looked over to my left where the wind was blowing from, and I said, 'stop,'" Farrell said. "And the wind just stopped."
He could still hear the wind blowing around him, but he was in stillness once again. Thinking about what had just happened with the wind, he again began journaling.
In a second instant, his pen ran out of ink. He remembered he had extra pens in his room, but he didn't want to get up and disturb everyone else, so he looked at the pen, said "no," and kept writing. The ink immediately came back.
While writing about the wind, the pen and the rest of that day, he was interrupted a third time.
"While I was journaling, I started to feel the wind coming again," Farrell said. "I was confident now, so I was like, 'no, stop,' because I didn't want to deal with the wind again."
But the wind came even stronger, more than he had felt before. The pages of his journal weren't flipping this time, though, and he felt warm and comforted. Sitting in that moment, awestruck, Farrell was confident that he was sitting in the presence of God.
After spending much time reflecting over his time of sacred silence since then, and the idea of prayers being answered in line with God's divine plan, Farrell realized his prayers on that night must have been exactly what God also wanted in that moment. And this was something he had never quite experienced before.
"It was the first time that what I desired was genuinely in line with what God desired," Farrell said. "Before, I would always pray for things that maybe weren't exactly in line with God's will for that specific time in my life, even though they were good things. So yeah, I would say that was the first time that I was asking for the right thing, I guess. And I didn't know that going into it, but I can say that now in hindsight of it."
Q: Where do you see value in sharing stories?
"I think that every story points back to the true story of Christ. In any story, any thing that has some plot, has at least one thing that points back to the story of the Bible. That's why any of those books by C.S. Lewis or (J.R.) Tolkien or G.K. Chesterton are so valuable, because they're not allegories where it's like, 'okay, this person's going to represent God and this person represents Jesus,' they just wrote a story. But, in those cases, it's such a good story, that Christ is so evident in it. Those are the best stories, the ones where you can clearly see Christ. And then relationally, you get to know people and know their story, and obviously that's super important." - Josh Farrell