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December Devotional: God With Us

This month on the blog, we are joined by Seth Touchton, who served as the Camp Pastor at WinShape Camps for Boys at Cleveland during summer 2017.

Keep reading as Seth unpacks what it means for us when we say that God is always with us.

Light tackles the receptors in my eyes so suddenly it refuses to leave time for an iris-adjustment. I would assume thunder followed, but the rain that so heavily fell on my window invited no backup singers to the show. My cat hides between the covers and the pillow, and with another glistening blast from the sky, her nocturnal eyes dart up as she sees the fan above slowly churn to a still slumber. We just lost power. I roll over in the darkness (obviously to my cat’s disapproval) and pull up the radar on my phone for the umpteenth time that night. The monstrous storm that ravaged the Caribbean now unleashes its wrath across my home-state, Florida, and has been for some time now.

The week prior to Hurricane Irma’s arrival was filled with family group chats, evacuation lists, more family group chats, and if we felt like braving the Roman Coliseum that was Wal-Mart, a supply run. My university in West Palm Beach, FL was in the works of evacuating the entire student body, which meant we would be joining the highways and interstates in the middle of the largest mass-evacuation Florida has ever historically seen.

I’m sorry, are you stressed yet? Because just typing this story is wrecking my stress level forreals. Okay, just a little more…

The drive home that normally took just a couple hours turned upwards of eight hours filled with insane drivers, gasoline scavenger hunts, and an early-to-bed-early-to-rise introverted martial artist about to go rogue (me). Then, after just a few days of sand bag filling, window prepping, and canned-food hording, the storm impacts Florida and wipes out a record breaking statistic of 95% of power statewide, gravely endangering ICU babies, senior homes, and did I mention THE BABIES. #RIP my sanity by this point.

Remaining calm and pressing on was not even remotely on the radar (no pun intended). Ironically enough, I actually used lightning-and-thunder effects during one of my sermons this past summer for the Truth: “When I love God with ALL of me, I’m with Him and He’s with me.”

I stood on stage and preached that message 8 weeks in a row, and clearly no one else needed to hear it more than me by the time Irma came rollin’ around. Even more ironic is the fact that I’ve lived in Florida almost my entire life, and Irma was not my first hurricane BY FAR. Now I’ll save you this science nerd’s reasoning for why Irma was a different case than common hurricanes, but what really intrigued me was this question: What was it about an overwhelmingly powerful storm that caused so much fear in people (including myself)?

Fear is the greatest amnesia.

Note where God is in the midst of the two accounts in Mark. In one account, He’s asleep in the boat. In the other, He’s walking on the water towards the boat. Neither is exactly sane, y’all. There is no human logic that would necessitate falling asleep in a sinking boat or walking atop stormy waters.

But thank You Jesus that Your ways are higher than ours.

Before the account when He was asleep, Jesus healed multitudes of people and preached Truth just the same. Before the account when He walked on water, Jesus fed upwards of 20,000 people if you include the 5,000 men and their families, with a day-sack.

Why did the disciples not remember Jesus’ incredible power when in the midst of the storm?

Fear is the greatest amnesia.

Fear loves void.

So whenever we forget the faithful Presence of God, whenever we think He’s taking a nap and forgets us, or we think He’s a ghost of our past that can’t help us, fear turns on its sirens, blows its horns, and all of the sudden there is too much noise and chaos in our souls that the circumstance becomes impossibly immense.

God abhors fear, though. He casts out all fear, according to 1 John.

Why? Because whenever we fear something, it becomes bigger than God, and isn’t that just the perfect lie?

When I love God with ALL of me, I’m with Him and He’s with me.

Back in 1 John, we see in 4:19 that we even have the opportunity to love God with all of us because He loved us first. His love is the very reason we are about to celebrate Christmas, and His Love is the very reason we exist.

But there is another reason why God abhors fear: Because it makes us forget His Presence.

The disciples feared that since Jesus was resting, they had been forgotten and left to die. The disciples feared Jesus walking on the water towards them because they thought He was a ghost, a faint memory that was no longer relevant. In both scenarios, they lost touch with His Presence. And that right there is major key (somebody please get that reference). I don’t have to love God with ALL of me in order FOR Him to be with me, but when I actually do love God with ALL of me? I realize His Presence, and get to actually be with Him knowing that He is with me.

When I love God with ALL of me, I’m with Him and He’s with me.

Your storm could be many things.

It could be family issues, which means Winter Break feels more like a break in your heart than a break from school. It could be a relationship. It could be that insecurity you’ve been harboring for far too long. Anything could be your storm, and often times when we cry out to God in prayer, we don’t actually believe our voice will make it through the troposphere — let alone to Heaven’s Throne.

Listen in to this, though: You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to fight to get His attention.

Whether you think He’s asleep or you think He’s long gone does NOT affect the reality of His Presence.

The disciples saw Jesus in both storm accounts, and perceived Him as unreachable, and in both cases Jesus was still entirely in control. If He’s never changed for all of human existence, why would He all of the sudden decide to change in your storm?

When I love God with ALL of me, I’m with Him and He’s with me.


You are so incredibly good to us. Thank You for being beyond my understanding. If I could fully understand You, You would have the same limits I do, and that is not even close to comforting, so again, thank You for having higher ways than I do. I pray that as we enter this season of celebrating the coming of the Prince of Peace, that peace would not evade us. Bring peace into our storms, Jesus, whether it be by calming the storms or teaching us to rest in You during them. Help us to remember Your Presence. Please break through our fear.

In Your Name, Amen.


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