Last night, a storm raged. The wind whistled and branches swayed, thunder raged and lightning struck frightfully close to our home, which sits hilltop, surrounded by thick trees.
The seasons are changing again, and whispers of autumn are beckoning. Cooler mornings and evenings abound, as parcel of deer emerge from woods, their silhouettes slim and still at dusk. Wild turkeys stir, pecking the ground, and the slant of soft lemon-light fades earlier as the days shorten. How I love autumn and its changes.
I anticipated that our summer was going to be a whirlwind, and it was. Ministry, especially during a pandemic, is weighty. I pray for my husband as pastor. Our world is raging, and it takes wisdom and discernment and patience to make decisions that honor God.
So I have become a desperate explorer of sorts, pulling my magnifying glass from my backpack, searching for beauty in the midst of all that is broken. Autumn is stunning in the death of leaves; a hushing of external growth. From death emerges splendor: red, burnt orange, and yellow. Pieces cascading softly to the earth.
I think of Christ’s blood, which tumbled earthward at Golgotha, a violent storm silenced only after his brutal death and crucifixion, ushering in the fulfillment of believers’ eternal peace with God.
Our grandson was recently born, arriving weeks early in the whirlwind storm of an emergency C-section. We received a sudden text from our son: PLEASE PRAY! and the following ten minutes might as well have been ten years. I felt desperate: Please keep them safe, God, please protect them. My anxiety stilled only as I yielded: I trust you, Lord. Your will, not mine.
Now I sit rocking this small bundle, and he is beautiful; a little person gifted into our family mosaic. I study his large eyes, and chunky cheeks and perfect chin, and it is startling to see my own babies etched within his upturned face. I sprinkle him with hushed lullabies, kissing his soft head and repeating the very songs I hummed to his Daddy twenty-five years ago. These ancient paths return, familiar and breathtaking. The weight of this baby on my shoulder is a healing balm. A reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of storms.
I could dwell upon current news headlines, rather than lullabies, thinking of the daily terrors encroaching worldwide. But I will not. That magnifying glass of mine is spotting gems even in the midst of terror. My steps fly eagerly on this narrow way, pressing more deeply into the things of God than ever before. Stormfronts, I have discovered, spark change: either a hardening of an already cold heart, fearful, bitter, and complaining, or a softening of the heart, tender and trusting in the holy purposes of God.
The Holy Spirit comforts and warms me through his Word. I persevere with dogged intentionality, responsible for my own faith-feeding habits. No one is going to spoon-feed me, nor should they.
How else may we ever stay faithful, as Christ followers, when basic truths of Scripture are being upended, and professing Christians are thronging the parade, clapping and encouraging blatant heresy and renaming it courage? All under the guise of Christendom?
Our culture is a cyclone, sweeping up people in its deadly path. I will continue to take refuge under God’s protective wings (Psalm 91:4). It is a permanent place of safety.
The commonality for survival in all storms? Seek shelter.
As our grandson sleeps in his father’s arms, I see it so clearly. The sweet baby, limp and relaxed, trusts his father wholeheartedly. He is rocked, comforted, and held in unconditional love, wanting for nothing.
If we are to be like Jesus, we, too, will sleep peacefully in the middle of life’s storms.
Chapter 4 of Mark tells of a great windstorm that arose while Jesus and his disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples grew frantic as the waves crashed into the boat, filling it with seawater. Jesus remained sound asleep on a cushion.
The disciples woke him.
Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:38b-40)
I have been wrestling with these words and their meaning. Genuine faith, not fear, is the only way to please our Creator, regardless of stormy weather. He is our Shelter.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
This posture cannot coexist with an ongoing wringing of hands, continual passing on of the haunting news reports, murmuring what ifs and gasping what are we to do? Fear is a deadly contagion, fueling the monster of anxiety as it shifts our eyes from God and his Word to our rapidly cycling circumstances. We become like Peter, fearing the wind on the water and forgetting Christ (Matthew 14:30). We, too, will sink.
Rise up, Christians! May we live with confidence in God, believing in his promises, treasuring the Bible, and surrendering ourselves to the deep knowing that everything passes through his Sovereign hands. He is holding us, safe and secure, through every storm.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand (John 10:28).
And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20b).