I have fond and vivid memories of our Summer visits to my grandparents farm in Mississippi when I was a young boy. Of all the stories I could tell and experiences my kids will never know, one of my favorites was crawling up into the loft of one of the old barns where they stored some of the peanut crop and resting during a southern Summer rain storm. There was something incredibly peaceful, relaxing and almost hypnotic about listening to the rain hit the old tin roof. As much as I love the ocean, if I could make a sleep sound mode machine of my choice, it would be that familiar sound when raindrops collide with rusty tin.
I wish I could tell you that metaphorically speaking I can always sleep with such peace in the midst of storms. More times than not the sound of the rain and the chill of the wind leaves me more on edge than at rest. Even though I’ve lived through and survived my share of life’s storms there is still an uncertain but familiar tension that arises and remains until the storm passes. When I lived in Florida I recall during the monsoon season that the sun would be out and the skies would be clear and in mere seconds the sky would open up with a torrential rain storm seemingly out of nowhere. Life for many is much the same-smooth sailing, sunny skies and kaboom-instant thunderstorm, dry one minute and drenched the next, warm and cozy to bone-chilling gusts before you knew what hit you.
There is a story recorded for us in Matthew Chapter 8 that most are very familiar with:
” And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
I can almost hear readers making the obvious observation because it’s the same one that I made. “Yeah but He’s Jesus and I’m not”. Of course He did have a bit of an unfair advantage as He was the creator of the seasons and the storms and was undoubtedly not in any peril. But how easy it is for us to automatically displace Christ when we are in these storms, forgetting that “this same spirit” remains in us and consequently the same peace also resides within us. I’m fifty-five years old and have known the Lord as my Savior since I was seven, and to this day I have to be reminded that I always survive, that God is always in control and that the spirit of Christ is always at my side. It’s ironic how we as a people can be wronged and we may never forget it but when we are “righted”, rescued and restored, time and time again, we have such short memories. No matter the severity of the storms we face we must as believers find shelter in the words left for our comfort and encouragement:
Psalm 107:28; “when they cried out to the Lord in their trouble He brought them out of their distress. He calmed the storm and its waves quieted down…”.
Nahum 1:7; ” The Lord is good, a stronghold in days of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him”.
Isaiah 25:4;” For You have been a strong place for those who could not help themselves…and a safe place from the storm and a shadow from the heat”.
Isaiah 44:6; “There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and a shelter from the storm and rain”.
When I first met my wife I took her to meet some friends of mine in Dana Point, CA who had a thirty-nine foot schooner. This was her first experience on a sailboat. There was a red flag warning out that day, meaning the winds were too high for sailing, but they subsided just long enough for us to take a quick cruise to the Newport Harbor and back. Although the warning had been lifted the seas were still choppy and rough. My friend asked me if I wanted to take the helm for a bit and I jumped at the experience. After just a few minutes he said I looked like I knew what I was doing so he and everyone on board went below deck for a nap and left me at the helm with instructions to let him know when were close to our harbor. At no time was I afraid or timid. It remains one of my most precious memories. Alone at the wheel of a boat surrounded by sea with large swells, and I was having the time of my life! My approach to life’s storms should be equally undaunted, knowing that Christ has placed me at the helm of something He knows I can handle and he is taking His siesta, asleep but close by if needed. He has given me instructions, set my compass, and provided me with coordinates that I need but follow so that even on a stormy sea, I can hold and follow a true course through the waves. How easy that sounds through keystrokes.