Ahh… life’s storms. We all have them: the little April showers that wreck our well made plans, the mighty August storms we take refuge from and watch in awe as lightening illuminates the sky, the dreaded winter ones that turn us all into shut-ins as we hunker down and wait out the worst, and the unforeseen storms that leave a wake of destruction that leave us picking up the pieces of our lives in its aftermath.
Some storms we bring on ourselves, and once we’re in the middle of it all, all we can do is look regret in the face and promise ourselves not to be back here… again.
Some storms just come… whether you’ve seen it brewing on the horizon for quite some time now, or whether it took you by surprise, there was nothing you could do to stop it.
Jesus and Jonah
I’ve been thinking about storms lately. A book I’ve been reading had referenced Jesus asleep in the boat in the midst of the storm, and how we should rest like He did. I agreed.
A sermon I heard referenced Jonah asleep in the boat in the midst of the storm, and how we need to wake up to our callings, not stay asleep. I agreed.
Wait a minute.
Sleeping through storms seems to be a theme here, but in one case it’s a marked point of disobedience and flat out running away from God, and in the other it’s a sign of peace.
So what do we do with storms?
Storms and Lies
I think that ties together both Jesus & Jonah’s storm. In Jonah’s case the lie was that he could outrun God. Nope. Sorry. Not even a little bit. Whether it was an act of surrender or defiance, I don’t know, but it took the storm for him to stop running and ultimately surrender to God.
In Jesus’ case, the lie was that the disciples could save Jesus – or needed to. They were working so hard, in their place of expertise as professional sailors, to protect Jesus. They needed to come to a place of acknowledging Jesus was the one saving them.
The sleeping isn’t the main point.
God is the main point. God is always the main point of the story! And in each case, we see God glorified through the storm.
God is glorified
In Jonah’s story, while the sailors were panicking, Jonah told them it was because he was running from God the storm was so violent. When they obeyed Jonah’s direction to throw him overboard and the storm abated, these far-from-God sailors immediate reaction was to glorify God.
At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.Jonah 1:16 (NIV)
When Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples reaction was similar:
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”Matthew 8:27 (NIV)
God is glorified in the storms of our lives.
I’ve been reading from the Message paraphrase of the Bible recently – it helps sometimes to bring a fresh perspective when I feel like my eyes begin to skim over familiar Scripture. Given the frequency the word “storm” has come up in my readings lately, I was immediately struck by how the Message puts Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane:
“Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this?’ No, this is why I came in the first place. ‘Father, put your glory on display.’ “John 12:27-28, MST
Glory on display
There are storms in life I am called to have peace in: God is in control and I need only to rest in Him. There are storms in life I am called to take action in: God has called me to obedience. I can’t always tell the difference, but I’ve been using Susie Larson’s word as a litmus test of sorts: what lies am I believing in this season of life? And what truths does God want me to embrace? How will God be glorified in this situation?
Sometimes I know God is most glorified through my repentance. Sometimes God is most glorified through my rest, having peace in the midst of the storm.
No matter what the storm, God hasn’t lost control. He will be glorified, even in this.