I have to admit that while going about the everyday chores of preparing supper and doing laundry this evening I barely noticed the clouds that began covering the sky until all of a sudden I lifted my head and realized that the house seemed a whole lot darker. When I looked out the window I immediately thought to myself, ‘Oh boy, where did that come from?’ In that same moment, flashes of lightning began to streak across the sky accompanied by loud claps of thunder – and a few seconds later, the rain began to fall. Not those little droplets that come with a sun shower; no, these were the hard torrential kind, the ones that make you soaking wet just running from your house to the car and vice versa.
There is something about those powerful displays of nature that make me stop for a moment and consider the awesome majesty of God. How he can speak the words that cause the rains to fall and thunder roll; how the mountains seem to reach the sky and the oceans meet the horizon, and then how the same God that put all of these into place is moved with the infirmities that wound our hearts and pierce our souls and will speak peace into the storms of our lives.
As I was pondering those thoughts this evening, in the middle of our rainstorm, I was struck with the words of the song that say:
When I pause in the hush of His holy presence
When I’m so still I can hear each whispered word
When I pause to pray, I enter His cathedral
These are the times, when God seems so near
Of course, He doesn’t always seem near to us, does he? In fact, the verse of this song also says:
There are times when I cannot feel His presence
When the clouds of doubt obscure the Master’s smile
But when I’m still enough to hear His gentle whisper
Then I know my Lord has been there all the while
It’s a funny thing about storms, often times - especially in life - they come when we are least expecting them. We seem to be going about our everyday lives when all of a sudden the winds pick up, then the clouds blow in, and before we know it we find ourselves in the middle of a torrential rain storm. It could be any manner of circumstances really – sickness, death, relationships, finances – any number of things could put us in the midst of a storm that clouds our vision and causes our view of the Master to suddenly become obscured. It is in these moments that we so often ask the question – where is God?
Last summer I heard a message entitled “When God is Inattentive”. In it, the Pastor discussed the impact that storms so often have on our lives, our faith, and our view of God. One of his key points was that when we feel that God is being inattentive, uncooperative or late we begin to believe that “If God is SILENT, He must be ABSENT”. However, that is very much not the case.
In Mark 4 Jesus’ disciples find themselves in a boat with their Master, when all of a sudden “there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up” (v. 37, NIV)
Imagine – Jesus ‘chosen’ ones, in a boat with this man whom they had taken for the Messiah, and it looks as though they are about to drown. I picture them trying to hold the boat against the winds, perhaps someone trying to bail the water out as it is pouring in over the sides, and looking at each other in shock and disbelief as Jesus sleeps soundly on a cushion in the stern of the boat. I can imagine myself in this situation and I am pretty sure that I would NOT be impressed. No wonder they called out to Him and said “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38, NIV)
Have you ever been able to relate to these disciples? Ever been in a storm and wondering “Do you even care that I am perishing?”
The disciples were obeying God when they landed themselves in the midst of their storm. In fact, they were in the boat with Jesus, the safest place they ever could have been. So why did they question him? I mean really, they had seen Him perform miracles, it’s not like they didn’t KNOW He could help them – He was just choosing not to, he was being ‘inattentive’. And if He didn’t soon wake up He was going to be too late.
It’s a funny thing about positioning. We learn in high school that the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, and yet the moon is able to totally block our view of the sun, not by its size but by its position. Although the disciples knew that Jesus was able to calm the storm, their view of Jesus was blocked by the circumstances that they were in. They allowed their blaring circumstances to hide the truth they knew about Jesus.
But Jesus had not changed, despite the raging storm, despite the winds and the water pouring in over the sides, He was still in control. And in a moment’s time He spoke and “rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still’ and the wind died down and it became perfectly calm” (v. 39, NIV)
I don’t believe for a second that Jesus was being inattentive, I believe he was waiting for the call of his beloved, for the opportunity to show himself to them in a real and powerful way. Jesus knew the storm was coming before they got in the boat. He could have prevented it from ever happening at all, but if the storm hadn’t come, they would never have seen him speak to the waves and calm it. And in the words of Pastor Darren Herbold “A raging torrential storm did not wake Him, but the desperate cry of one of his own did”.
Storms are never pleasant, they do instill a fear sometimes, and they do shake our faith – mine for sure. But hopefully we can learn from the disciples and call out to the one who is able to rebuke the winds, tell the waves to be still and turn a raging storm into a perfect calm, and when He does we can say to one another with a new appreciation for who He is, “What a mighty God we serve, that even the winds and the sea obey Him”. And we can know 'our Lord has been there all the while'.
Praying for you as you ride out your storm…