I grew up in Miami, Florida, on Biscayne Bay. Water became an integral part of life. Pier fishing after school became Saturday surfing, turning into full-moon catwalk shrimping. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean permeated the soul; the tide came in and the tide went out. This boy learned to be—by the water, on the water, in the water. Among the disciples in that boat on the Sea of Galilee were some Biscayne-boy types.
Time and again I have been on boats with groups of people when there have been rough seas, watching the progression of sea sickness like a contagious virus spread from one individual to the entire group. It never fails; one will lose a bit of equilibrium and get dizzy. Then you can see doubt in the eyes of the next person. Uncertainty sets in and fear takes over. Multiple people end up hanging over the side of the boat.
If we are Peter, Andrew, or a Biscayne boy, what is the virtue or salvation in dropping our nets to follow, if we lose our perspective on faith? Think of all the healing and teaching these disciples have witnessed leading up to this storm. Yet it took no time for doubt and fear to set in and throw their collective faith overboard. We can find solace in this story; we are the same disciples today as those in the boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee two thousand years ago. We may readily throw our strong faith overboard daily when storms arise and we forget God is in the boat with us. Then we allow self-doubt to spread until we glance over to the stern to see Jesus just as he was and is and will forever be: God with us, Lord over the storm.
Abba, we pray that our periods of doubt and fear will become fewer and farther between and that we will be at peace in the certainty of Emmanuel. Amen.
As children of God, we will face opposition; but God will ultimately give us victory. The psalmist cries out to God asking for deliverance from oppression at the hands of his enemies and concludes the psalm with the assurance that God will do so. Tradition credits this psalm to David, who as a boy had risked his life against Goliath based on that same assurance. Goliath mocked the Israelites and their God, but God gave the victory. Paul recounts his sufferings for the gospel, yet he is not overcome or in despair, for he trusts in God. Jesus calms a storm and is disappointed that the disciples show so little faith. Why do they not believe in God’s deliverance? And what about us? Do we still believe in God’s deliverance?
• Read 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49. How do you stay grounded in the knowledge that you are part of the people of God? How does that knowledge sustain you in trying times?
• Read Psalm 9:9-20. When have you been provoked to cry out, “Rise up, O Lord?” On whose behalf did you cry?
• Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. When have you allowed your discipleship to become lax? Can you sense Paul’s urgency in his appeal: “Now is the acceptable time” (emphasis added)?
• Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.