With another windy day on tap, I just read a friend's blog describing a recent marathon. It was a six mile loop that when running west, was directly into a stiff wind. Two pacers ran in front of her in an attempt to block the air currents making progress a bit more pleasant. But still, it was hard going. I'm sure she wished for the gale to cease.
As I began to work in the office this morning I clicked on the morning news and was captivated by a special piece on Elizabeth Edwards, presumably in her last hours. At the end of a long struggle with cancer, the story highlighted her life with all of it's ups and downs; the political scene, the pressure of being the perfect wife, the gut-wrenching lose of a son to an accident, the birth of other children later in life, a devastating diagnosis and equally devastating infidelity of her husband. Drawn from an interview in past years, she was quoted as saying that she wished her children to remember her as a woman who "stood in the storm...and adjusted her sails..." That is quite the legacy.
The analogy of a storm is not unfamiliar. Think of Jonah on that boat headed to Nineveh. The storm raged and he was thrown overboard since the crew's storm-fraught predicament was all his fault. Jonah was running hard from God, not standing tall in the face of what God asked him to do. In fact, trying to escape on that boat was his way of slouching cowardly, turning his back on God. So into the churning sea he went. I bet he never expected that big 'ol fish to swallow him up and then spit him out. But it was only when hit the beach on his knees that he could stand tall. He could stand to face the challenge because he knew his God had been in the storm with him.
Ever feel like you're in a storm? I do. Pressures, challenges, and heartache come from all directions. It is not a particularly pleasant experience. Fortunately, some come and go quickly. Others show no sign of clearing skies. Still, it is in those dark and blustery days that we must learn to stand tall in the storm. But just as important, we must learn how to sleep in the storm. Really. I'm not kidding.
Sleep is reserved for those who are at peace. Remember how the Lord was in the boat when a vicious storm arose on the Sea of Galilee? Waves washed over the sides, nearly swamping it. The disciples were frightened senseless. And yet the Lord slumbered, the disciples thinking him oblivious to their peril. Finally awakening him they said, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" (Mark 4:38b). I can see it now. Jesus probably gave them that “give me a break” kind of look, drew in an exasperated breath and then told the wind and waves to cease.
Silence and calm. That’s what happens when the Lord is in control. But we error if we think God was not--or is not--in control when the seas churn and the winds blow. The only difference is our ability—or perhaps, willingness—to believe that God is as much God in the storm as in calm.
Stand tall in the storm. Then find rest and sleep despite the roar of the crashing waves.
"The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." (Jonah 2:5-7)