There is a movie online called “Love and Mercy,” which is the story of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys that describes how they rose to fame and Brian Wilson’s descent. It was a really fascinating movie because I think that Brian Wilson represents what it is like to be a prophet in our world. I will talk a little bit about our role as prophets.
Having really creative and inspiring, new ideas, is often what makes people popular and unique. It is that same thing that causes some people to look at them and think, “What is wrong with this guy? He is crazy.” It is that intersection of creativity and being misunderstood that resulted in the Beach Boys’ greatest hit ever “Good Vibrations.” Anybody heard that song before? We have all heard it. It was at this time that the Beach Boys were looking at Brian Wilson and thinking he was crazy. He was doing all these different things in the studio where he would have a guy playing a cello and, instead of playing the cello, he was smacking the cello. Out of this craziness came their number one hit of all time. It was at that time that the Beach Boys were at their pinnacle of fame.
It was also at that time that Brian Wilson began to lose it. So, as they are becoming more and more famous, he withdraws. He does not want to go on the road with them anymore. He decides he is going to start recording his own stuff. Before you know it, he is in his room. We all know the story. Brian Wilson supposedly spent two years in his room. When his girlfriend asks him in the movie, “Can I ask you something personal? Did you really spend two years in your room?” He looks at her and says, “It was actually more like 3.” He goes from this height of creativity to three years in his room. Isolated from everybody else. Now we learn in the movie that there is a lot of medical malpractice that he is going through but, during this time, he is isolated from his friends, he is isolated from his family, he loses his wife, he goes through a divorce, loses his children. It is a horrible time. And simultaneously the Beach Boys are continuing to grow. This talented guy who wrote “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Surfing USA,” “ Wouldn’t it Be Nice, “God Only Knows” is now miserable and can’t even get out of bed. It would take him 20 years to start to recover. It was not until 2013, and I remember this episode of “Full House,” where he finally got back on stage and sang “Kokomo” with the Beach Boys. It would be almost 50 years for him to get out of his bed and back on the stage.
What does this all have to do with the scripture readings today? Well, in life all of us are called to be prophets. In your baptism, you were called to be priest, prophet and king. That means in many ways we are supposed to put ourselves out there. We are supposed to be light for the world. What we will discover, with any of us, if we are living a prophetic life, is we are going to discover times where we rise in terms of using our gifts and talents, but then times where the world just crushes us because the world does not want the light. The world does not want a prophet.
We here this in the readings today. Peter gets out of the boat, and he says, ”Lord, if it is you, command me to get out and walk on the water.” Then he starts to walk on water, and it is amazing. And then what happens? He loses sight of the Lord, and he begins to sink. We hear about it in the first reading with Elijah the prophet. Elijah is prophesying God. He makes God create this fire and shows that his God is the true God. Then he goes on to fail, and he is chased out of his territory. Last week we heard he fell asleep under that broom tree. He was so exhausted that he fell asleep. The Lord fed him with manna and with water. He went on a journey for 40 days and 40 nights, gets to this cave at the top of the mountain. What does he do in the cave? He hides. He does not want to have anything to do with anything. He hides. The Lord comes to him, and he woos him. He says, “Come out of the cave for a little bit.” So, he comes out. God was not in the strong wind, he was not in the earthquake, and he was not in the fire. He was in a still, small whisper of a voice.
The reality is that each and every one of us has to get in touch with that whisper, the voice of God. Whenever we go through a struggle, or whenever we go through a difficulty, or whenever life seems to crush us, or whenever we want to just hide in our bed and not get out of bed, we have to listen for that voice of God.
I think about this during this time of the pandemic because we are all supposed to be isolated in our own homes. We have kind of gotten used to hiding out. It is kind of a joke with workers, especially with Zoom. You do not have to get out of your pajamas in the morning. You just kind of roll out of bed and roll over to Zoom. The reality is that a lot of us are probably experiencing a breakdown of our lives – a change in the life or the world as we knew it. Our lives are crumbling in some ways before us. I think about people who are at the peak of their job and then the virus hit, and they lost the job. I know one guy who lost his job and started a farm. It is just a whole other way of life. Parents who seemingly had it all together before the virus are now overwhelmed as they have to be husband and wife, they have to both be working, and they have to homeschool and teach their children. Their lives are just turned upside down. I know someone that was in New York and he was an aspiring actor and now he is back in Ohio wondering what he is going to do with his life. The alcoholic who started drinking too much and before you know it, he lost his family, lost his children. Somebody who thought they were happily married and all of sudden they experience divorce and their life is completely turned upside down. A diagnosis of cancer. You thought your life was good and then you get diagnosed with cancer and your life completely changes. And all these examples of life can cripple us and take us down to our core, knock us out and put us in bed and not even want to get out of bed. And recovery often lasts way longer than we anticipate, or we think it is going to last. I want you to know if you hear nothing else, Jesus is with you. He is always reaching out to you. Take him by the hand. No matter how far you are sinking, no matter how deep your depression is getting, no matter how bad life seems to be. He is there.
As we hear in the first reading, it is often not in the destruction of our lives, not in the damage of our lives, not in the fire, not in the earthquake, but a small gentle whispering voice telling you that he has got you. So, as the world continues to rage around us, and we all face the difficulties in our lives, we have to be willing to step out once more. Maybe you are watching this at home, and you have not been out of your house forever. Be willing to step out of that front door again. Take a step to get out of bed, get out of our rooms, out of our house. Step back out on the water again knowing that Jesus has you. Hear that gentle whispering voice in the midst of all that raging going on around you. Get to that place of silence and stillness in your heart where you can hear Him. Then know that he is reaching out his hand to pick you up again.