Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 104; 149, Hosea 10:1-15, Acts 25:13-27, Luke 8:16-25
How often have we heard teams pray before a sporting event to ask God to help them win the big game (and by inference, sabotage the other team, as though getting God to cheat for you is sportsmanlike)? How many people thank Jesus for everything from parking spots to Grammy awards, as if they are saying “Good job!” to a personal assistant? Our relationship with our God should be close, but not so cozy we forget who is in charge.
When the disciples were afraid their boat would sink in a storm, they woke Jesus from his sleep. He rebuked and calmed the storm – and then he rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. To this point they had experienced Jesus as a healer, storyteller, and prophet who taught forgiveness. For the first time, they got a glimpse of the raw power of a being who could command the clouds and sea. Not surprisingly, this revelation amazed and frightened them. They asked themselves exactly who it was they’d agreed to follow.
As we mature in our own faith, our experiences may be similar. At some point we must move past the non-threatening, undemanding baby Jesus in the manger, to a more adult Jesus who makes loving but firm demands of us. The more we follow him, the more we realize how harrowing discipleship can be. Like those first disciples, we cry out for the Jesus who takes away our problems, but eventually we learn he expects us to have faith through our personal storms. Jesus is not just a servant, but a servant leader who teaches us to have faith that casts out fear. The closer we grow, the greater our awe and the more we realize just how amazing his love for us is, because he is so much greater than we will ever imagine.
When your storm comes up, do you want to be the disciple who in a faithless panic wakes Jesus? Better to be the disciple who can say “I kept the course faithfully – even through trouble – because I trust in you, Lord.”
Comfort: We can be confident Jesus is present during all life’s storms.
Challenge: When you pray in times of trouble, ask yourself (and God) whether you should be praying to avoid or endure them.
Prayer: Teach me, Lord, to trust you in difficult and frightening times. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever become stronger from a situation you would rather have prayed away?
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