Walking and talking with God

The reading from 1st Samuel tells us of David’s faith. David’s awareness of and faith in God’s presence, and his confidence in God’s power are good points to ponder.

In the Gospel according to Mark [4:35-41] the disciples have found themselves in a fearful situation. They are in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of a terrible storm. Jesus was asleep, on a cushion in the stern of the boat. The waves were beating into the boat and the boat was being swamped. It was at that point that the disciples turned to Jesus. Mark tells us that they woke Him up and said, 

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” We can imagine their unspoken words were, “Teacher! Do something!” We are left to wonder – what did they expect him to do? Whatever they expected, they witnessed much, much more. When Jesus awoke, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” 

Then there was a dead calm. The disciples had accepted that Jesus had special powers from God. They had seen the sick sent away healed when Jesus declared, “Your faith has made you well.” They had seen those tormented in the throes of demon possession rise in peace when Jesus commanded evil spirits to be gone.

Yet his power over creation, over the wind and the sea, left them stunned, in awe, and at peace; at peace from their terror of the storm. The disciples had called on Jesus in their distress. He had heard their cry and had responded to it.

He gave them peace. Jesus urged the disciples to be strong in their faith in their living, omnipresent and all-powerful Lord.

Often we, like the disciples, are aware of many of God’s blessings and appreciate God’s blessings for ourselves and others. Yet when storms arise in our lives, often our first reflex is to tackle the storm on our own. Our thoughts and actions are confused and counter-productive until we remember, we are not facing the storm alone. Our Lord Jesus is with us.

In the reading from 1st Samuel, David and Goliath viewed the armies of the Philistines and the Israelites very differently.    Goliath the giant, a Philistine warrior, seemingly declared the Philistines were a united army confidently and proudly fighting for their nation. Goliath viewed the band of Israelites as simply servants in Saul’s army. It seems Saul and his foot soldiers reflected Goliath’s assessment. King Saul and his soldiers, in their dismay and fear of Goliath, reflected a lack of confidence in their purpose. David viewed the Israelite forces differently. He saw the Israelites as the army of the Living God. In David’s view the Philistines had dared to defy the Living God of Israel. David’s awareness of and faith in God’s presence, and his confidence in God’s power led David to declare, “The battle is the Lord’s.” This is the faith Jesus urged the disciples and urges us to embrace. 

Our Lord loves us and promises to be with us always; to hear our cry for help; and to grant us peace. We encourage one another to pray for more awareness of our Lord’s presence in the blessings and joys of our daily lives. The first stanza of the hymn, “I Come to the Garden Alone, … and He walks with me and He talks with me, …” invites us to embrace that awareness. 

Practicing this awareness with joy and humility helps us to prepare for the storms in life. Yes, there will be storms. In the storm of the loss of a loved one our immediate reaction may be to shout, either silently or aloud, “Why God! Why?” And when we are able to exhale, we can be more aware of peace, and of our Lord’s presence and comfort. William Barclay writes that, ‘anxiety and worry are the enemy of peace.’ Jesus reminds us that God loves us and that love remains with us always. A young caregiver once ended her evening prayer or conversation with the Lord saying, “Lord I cast my worries at your feet, and I am going to bed.”

As a college undergrad, I had to cross a footbridge near a waterfall to get to the library. During the day, the waterfall was a beautiful sight. The water rushed over the nearby high ground and flowed beneath the footbridge, and down into the valley. At night the thunderous sound of water rushing toward me out of the darkness was disconcerting, having the potential of creating in me a storm of anxiety. I established a standing date with Jesus. Each library study night, Jesus was there waiting for me on the library side of the footbridge. I greeted Him with, “It’s You and me Lord. You and me.” As we walked across the bridge, I chatted about my day. When we reached the dormitory side of the bridge, I said, “Good night,” and walked on to the dorm. Yes, Jesus is always with us, yet He was particularly with me every library night for four years. Every library night I walked across that bridge in peace.

I’d like to thank David for sharing his human awareness of, and faith in the presence of God in our lives, and for sharing his confidence in the power of our living God. 

+Mother Mary