While traveling between villages on a recent trip with some folks from Columbus, we were struck by a sudden storm with severe straight-line winds. The storm was remarkable in its suddenness, as well as in its severity. Five people were on top of our boat, star gazing, when, seemingly, out of nowhere, the winds and the storm hit. They said that prior to onset, they noticed some clouds in the darkness for no more than five minutes. It was really something. Many items were blown off the boat and it was almost miraculous that the five stargazers were able to climb down over the edge of the roof without sliding into the water. It was so loud that if someone screamed and fell in we could have not known for some time. We were not in a large river but we could not control the boat and tied off to the trees for the last of it. The boat, all of our stuff, and all of us were soaked after the twenty minute storm blew through. It was twenty minutes that we will not soon forget.
This storm was a demonstration of power with its accompanying sense of vulnerability that I have rarely experienced. I gained appreciation for the fear that Jesus’ followers felt in the story in Matthew 8. Jesus was calm, even sleeping. Why? Because He knew who was in complete control and trusted in both the control and the care of the One in control. I was reminded that, when walking (or riding) through one of the frequent storms that comes through my life, or when walking through the mundane of every day, I can fear the power of all the unknown forces that I am vulnerable to. Or I can trust the care and control of the One who made and who sustains ALL things.
There are so many lessons in the “seen” world that apply to the “unseen” world. I believe more and more that everything in the seen world exists because God, through this world and our experiences, is revealing to us something about Himself and something about the very real unseen world that remains difficult for many of us to appreciate. I enjoy searching out these lessons. There were many such lessons for me in this storm. Following are a few examples of how God used this particular storm to remind me of some simple kingdom truths. 1) Storms (trials or afflictions that we haven’t chosen) are a normal part of life. All of us have experienced difficult storms, and all of us will experience others. They are not abnormal and if we experience a storm or a challenging difficulty, it does NOT mean that something is wrong or that God isn’t in control. We may not have immediate understanding of the kingdom purpose of the storms but they are a normal part of each of our journeys and always within the control of the One who so cherishes each of us. 2) A storm demonstrates power outside of ourselves. We can seek to organize our lives in such a way that we develop an illusion of personal control over the events of our life. This inappropriately raises our expectations of what this earthly life should be. A storm forces our realization that there are powers far beyond our strength that we ARE vulnerable to. 3) Storms do not last. There is ALWAYS an end and they rarely last long. When we are in the midst of significant pain with all its vulnerability, just this reminder may provide enough hope for us to endure it. Hebrews 11 chronicles the faith (trust) of many who held tightly to this hope with an eternal perspective and an understanding of the brevity of our earthly life. 4) Storms reveal in whom we have placed our trust. The demonstration of real peace in the midst of a storm in God’s people is likely the most powerful testimony for the reality of God and His care and control. This was a significant reason why the early church grew so powerfully. Some think that God’s power in the early followers of Jesus was demonstrated in signs and wonders. Though this was true, I believe the attraction of people to Jesus rested also in the peace that was obvious in His followers while facing significant storms (hatred, persecution, illness, loss of family and friends, etc.). Those who know Jesus become like He was in the boat while the storm raged. Calm, without concern for their earthly life, because they know the supreme care of the One in control. They know that this life, though precious, is expendable, and eternal intimacy with, and trust in, their Rescuer holds far more value.
What is God revealing to you about Himself and His kingdom today through the “seen” world?