August 2004. We were near the end of our sabbatical when the storm warnings began. There was a new look about Daytona. Locals travelled with haste, a look of fear and intensity. We chatted with new friends in the grocery store, stockpiling cans, water and all things survival. Our small house near the beach would be our haven, we began to prepare the ‘safe room’. Blocking windows, ensuring order, candles, radio and water. Our makeshift citadel. We were ready. The children too were prepared, three girls, all in the same bed, torches in hand. They slept soundly. We tracked Charley across Florida until the moment came. Rains sounding like waterfalls, trees beginning to bow, power shut down – we headed to our safe room. Phil and I sat on our floor mattress like a couple of students and waited. Some would call it divine intervention as Josh Groban declared a tinny ‘You Raise Me Up’ on the battery operated radio, like the angel who’d sat in our kitchen the night before (that’s another story;) Hurricane Charley arrived sounding like a freight train passing through our yard. Eerie silence followed. Until the next surge, of droning, whining, crashing. In the midst of the din our new friend, the radio DJ informed us that the eye of the storm was over Brookline Avenue. Our road…..
Charley moved on to the Atlantic after a couple of hours.
We stared into darkness for a long time, until torches waved in our bleary faces and little voices whispered ‘has Charley been’?
….Storms rage in scripture. Tornadoes rip through the Bible. God speaks out of the whirlwind in Job and whisks the prophet Elijah to heaven in swirling winds.
In Matthew 14 we read of a great stormy experience for the disciples. Verse 22 says ‘Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Are you finding yourself too far out?
Verse 25 says, During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
The fourth watch. The darkest time.
Precious words followed as they feared the ghost walking towards them.
‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’
Take those words to your heart today.
Then there’s the storm of Mark 4:35…
On the evening of that same day Jesus said to his disciples, Let us go across to the other side of the lake. So they left the crowd; the disciples got into the boat in which Jesus was already sitting, and they took him with them. Other boats were there too. Suddenly a strong wind blew up, and the waves began to spill over into the boat, so that it was about to fill with water. Jesus was in the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a pillow. The disciples woke him up and said, Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die? Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, Be quiet! and he said to the waves, Be still! The wind died down, and there was a great calm.Then Jesus said to his disciples,
Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?
Yet again, we see havoc across land this week, wreckage of lives. I pray that our friends in Kentucky will find peace.
My week has been filled with conversations of stormy lives.
Some storms have been raging around lives for weeks, months. Questioning will this ever end? The tiring rage, the noise, the debris.
For some friends, it’s been the devastation of loss and grief. A storm with no warning. Worlds turned upside down. Hurting hearts. A dark time. Psalm 139 promises you ‘that even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you’
Whichever storm you find yourself in I pray that are able to find the eye of the storm, we all know that the storm is not always removed, but Jesus in His love is our safe room, our haven. Sometimes, the ‘Be still’ is about you and your response in the storm.
One of things we learned was that being in the eye of the storm didn’t eliminate the noise, even the fear at times, but we realised soon enough that the devastation could have been a lot worse.
And remember Jesus slept! I love this line from ‘When Heaven Invades Earth ‘It was the peace of heaven that enabled him to sleep. It was the same peace that subdued the storm. You only have authority over the storm you can sleep in’
I think my kids had the right idea.
“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!” MSG
Have a great week – Sleep well.