Potentially violent storms send a shudder down my spine. I don’t usually feel like kicking back and playing a board game, reading a book or taking a nap in the eye of a threatening storm, especially when tornado season is upon us. Though I don’t have a great fear, I also would not describe my behavior as necessarily at ease. I look forward to the wind dying down, the rain and hail letting up and something more akin to “normal” out my window or back deck view, especially if I have loved ones on the road or without a safe place.
I have a similar attitude about the storms of life. It takes intentional effort to abound in the storm as well as the calm. But sometimes the storm must come first so that I will go running to my Refuge and lift my focus to the sweetness and greatness of God’s presence both in the storm and the calm.
In Matt. 8:24-26, Christ was taking a nap during a violent storm.
“Suddenly, a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But He was sleeping. So the disciples came and woke Him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to die!”
But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm.”
I don’t believe He was napping because He was unaware. Being God, He had no reason to fear the elements and wanted to teach His disciples (and us) something about trust as well. As my friend, and author, Holley Gerth, says in her book, “You’re Going to be Okay”, it’s not such a bad thing to only have a little faith as a starting point, since we are also told if we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move mountains.
But since just a little faith and fear can go hand in hand, it is my goal to increase my faith and decrease my fear. With increased faith I can abound in the storm because I know who holds it all in His hand, and know Him well. As a friend and mentor said, “He wants us to have faith, but He loves us to say, ‘Master, save us!'” That is abounding, and is only possible if my eyes are on Him, not the storm! Isa. 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you.” And Ps. 18:2, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength in whom I will trust.”
I’m not sure what a “great” calm is in the verses above, but I suspect it had the touch of the divine. I want the “great calm after the storm moments” and look forward to them. Sometimes I even wish for an “out”, i.e., the baby without the labor, the character without the trials, the mountain top without the climb, the “well done” without the obedience, work and sacrifice, but I also want to learn to abound in the storms and in whatever circumstances I find myself in. Then the “calm” moments are indeed great, with a sweetly personal divine touch.