AFLOAT IN A STORM
Andrea's husband came home with the news that he had lost his job. They
had their lives planned for many years: they loved the area, their kids'
school, the kids' youth programs, their ministry in the church, and their
friendships at church. They'd had no intention of moving, but he would be
out of work in three months. Three months! How could anyone find a new
job so fast in a down economy?
Days later, Andrea's small group called a prayer time for her family. She
was embarrassed and canceled it. She didn't want to be the sole recipient of
all their prayers; she was embarrassed to take time out of everyone's day just
to pray for her. But the group pushed and pushed until she committed to a
date and time.
When the group met, one member had put together a page-long list of
items to pray for, including everything from a new job to peace, from
increased awareness of God's care to finances. The list was humbling to read.
They had thought of everything Andrea could possibly worry about or question
as she faced the next few months. Andrea sensed God's gentle voice
showing her that these people were his physical arms around her as her family
faced their loss and looked ahead for new direction. Through these people,
God would keep her afloat as she weathered the storm.
CONNECTING WITH GOD'S FAMILY 20 min.
A life oriented toward worshiping God, surrendering to him,
begins with trust. To what degree do we trust God to care for us and
those we love, regardless of circumstances? Different personalities
have different natural responses to tough circumstances, both in the
short run and over the long haul. It's helpful to know what comes
naturally to different members of your group.
1. How do you typically respond when trouble hits your life?
(Select all that apply.)
I become unemotional and focus on handling things.
I handle a short crisis well, but if the painful situation
goes on and on, it's hard for me to persevere.
I freeze up in a sudden crisis, but if the painful situation
goes on, I pull myself together for a potential marathon.
I become hyperactive.
I distract myself with food, entertainment, the Internet,
work, shopping, or _____________________________.
I talk to friends.
I isolate myself.
I get depressed.
I ask people for help.
2. Whether your group is brand new or ongoing, it's always important
to reflect on and review your values together. On pages
72-73 is a sample agreement with the values we've found most
useful in sustaining healthy, balanced groups. We recommend
that you choose one or two values-ones you haven't previously
focused on or have room to grow in-to emphasize during
this study. Choose ones that will take your group to the
next stage of intimacy and spiritual health.
For new groups: A study on surrender may prompt
group members to share areas of their lives they want to
surrender more deeply to God. This is private information
that requires a high level of trust, so two values you
might want to emphasize are "safe environment" and
For existing groups: If you feel that the trust level in your
group is already high, you can go the next step by emphasizing
"spiritual partners." Partners can check in with
each other weekly to encourage one another in surrendering
to God more deeply and maintaining a vibrant personal
time with him. If the idea of spiritual partners is
new to you, you'll learn more about it in session 2.
GROWING TO BE LIKE CHRIST 40 min.
Several of Jesus' disciples were professional fishermen. They
had spent years on the Sea of Galilee and had been through countless
storms. But one evening, crossing the sea with Jesus, the disciples
found themselves in a squall that made them panic.
Storms happen. Becoming followers of Jesus doesn't change
that fact, but it does offer new ways to think about and respond to
storms-if we're willing.
3. Read Mark 4:35-41. Describe the scene:
Who was there?
What did the disciples do when the waves started breaking
over the boat?
Why did they respond that way?
4. Why do you think they questioned Christ's care for them
5. Jesus said his followers' fear reflected a lack of faith (verse 40).
Faith means belief or trust. What should they have believed or
6. What would a faith-filled response to the storm have been?
7. What did the disciples learn about Jesus from this experience?
8. How is this story relevant to the storms-large and small-that
we encounter in life?
9. If we know Jesus has authority even over the wind and waves,
why is it still hard for many of us to trust him when painful or
discouraging events occur?
10. What current situation is challenging you to trust Jesus and/or
persevere through pain?
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Read Mark 8:1-21. What do the disciples have trouble trusting
about Jesus in this passage? What reasons for their lack of trust does
What does Paul urge the Colossians to believe about Jesus in
Colossians 1:15-22? Why are these things so important to trust-not
just intellectually, but at our core-when we go through life's
storms? What in this passage motivates you to surrender your worries
SURRENDERING YOUR LIFE FOR GOD'S PLEASURE 15-30 min.
11. Pray for those who mentioned difficult situations in question
10. You might want to gather around a person and place your
hands on his or her shoulders to communicate your support
while you pray.
12. The Prayer and Praise Report on page 19 is a good place to
keep track of the group's prayer requests and answers to prayer.
Are there any additional requests you'd like the group to pray
for this week?
13. A regular habit of worship can build our trust in God because
it focuses our attention on what makes him trustworthy.
Worship strengthens us for the long haul. Here are two ideas
for responding to this study with worship:
Read Psalm 31 aloud together. If you want to be creative,
let half your group say the odd-numbered verses and the
other half say the even-numbered ones. (In a couple's
group, let the men and women be the two sets of speakers.)
When you finish, allow some open time for group
members to add their own words of praise, perhaps based
on things that struck them from the psalm.
Use a song from the DVD, the Life Together Worship
series, or a CD of your choice, to worship God with
music. Play a song once while the group simply listens
prayerfully, perhaps with eyes closed. Play it again with
the volume loud enough that people will feel comfortable