Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Calm Before the Storm


With regards to them, most people fall into two categories.  You either love the power of nature on display, marveling at the apex of energy and physics that come together or you reside in the camp where concern over the destructive potential to both life and property pushes most notions of awe to hindsight.

I reside in the former.  I grew up in rural southern Illinois where boiling clouds heralding the approach of a summer storm was an event that broke the monotony of rolling plains and winding gravel roads.  Tall grasses leaning away from the approaching turmoil often promised an evening resplendent with nature's own fireworks display.  Refreshing rains momentarily pulled the oppressive humidity out of the air and brought to life remembered scents and fragrances of wild flowers and fauna normally stifled in the heavy late summer heat.  Storms, to me, were a thing of beauty.

Later in life and after marriage I found myself working for a local municipality in which part of my job description included "emergency services".  This translated to being on call to respond as a mandated "storm spotter" when severe weather approached.  On numerous occasions I found myself parked with a wide vantage point watching dark rolling clouds and storm gusts approach, lightning in tow.  I never ceased to be amazed at the beauty, power, or fury of the spectacle observed even as I tried to apply the known physics creating the scene unfolding before me.

My bride, on the other hand, is in the latter camp - partially by my doing.  While I was out marveling at the storm during these storm spottings, my bride was often taking infants, pets, candles, and radios to interior rooms by herself to huddle or take shelter as prescribed.  While I marveled at the lightning, the rain, and the wind, my bride was listening to it blow over our home praying for my safety and the safety of our children and our family.  Sometimes after the storm passed, while I was returning to the bunker of an "Emergency Operations Center" that was fully powered with backup generators and computers, my bride was sitting in the dark of a home without electricity.  Needless to say, my bride is not a fan of powerful storms to this day.

But the storms that none of us relish are those that are invisible.  These are the storms that rage against order, against security, against relationships.  These storms billow against our very peace and identity.  Like the approaching front, these storms herald a dread of the unknown and the fear of destruction.  Buffeting winds of circumstance, a deluge of fears, and the unpredictable strike of crisis erode our illusions of self-sufficiency as the impending torrent of "what-ifs" draws near.  We've all been on the hill watching these storms approach.

Confession:  I'm there now.

Many events conspire with singular design:  to cast us into despair.  Feeling a loss of significance in the face of the fury before us we take note of the destructive nature of the maelstrom.  But in the roar of howling winds a whisper:

Be still and know that I am God
Psalm 46:10  ESV

To embrace this is to embrace the literal translation:  "Relax, let go, and sink into the knowledge that I am God - the one who holds power over the storm."

Most are familiar with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7 in which he compares those who listen to his words and do them versus those who do not.  The storms of life came to both and afterwards only one house remained.  The storms are promised.  No one, not one single person will escape this life without them.  Many will be swept away by them.  Some will remain steadfast and unmovable.

When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.
Proverbs 10:25 MSG

Regardless of our personal outcome with the storm, there is One who is unaffected by the fury.  The storms that rage against us do not deter Him, do not stop his workings, do not force an alternate route.  They are inconsequential to His ability to accomplish His will.  These storms we often see as incapacitating are under His feet.

Tornadoes and hurricanes are the wake of his passage, Storm clouds are the dust he shakes off his feet.
Nahum 1:3 MSG

As such, we are again reminded:  "Be still..."

It is in the heart of the storm that He desires to bring us to a full dependency, absolute peace, and complete readiness for the path He has set before our feet.  There will be winds of circumstance.  There will be crashes of crisis.  Floods of fear may rise.  Again.  "Be still and know that I am God."

When we are filled with this truth, we are then perfectly moldable and ready for the journey ahead.  Our lives will become beacons to others as they note the power of the peace within.  They will marvel as they witness us become the Calm before the Storm