We are in a season of storms; storms we wonder if we will survive.
Lately my local area has been experiencing a very stormy weather pattern. Threatening clouds filled with every sort of possible disaster are often in the view from my window. Storms that bring so much rain so quickly that many, including myself, are now spending time mopping up our basements and throwing away ruined keepsakes.
I hate how during a storm and even in its aftermath my anxiety levels rise to unhealthy levels.
I easily get just as anxious these days when I cannot look at any form of media without being confronted by the threatening clouds of pain, suffering, anger and strife beginning to pour down onto our troubled world. These too are the storms we wonder how we will survive.
As I seek the answer to that question I am brought back to a childhood memory of a summer storm that showed me the best way to make it through each of life’s storms.
I was probably around 5 years old and it was a very hot, humid summer evening. I was riding in the pick-up truck with my father when we were suddenly surrounded by an extremely dangerous storm; a powerful enough storm to be embedded deep into my mind’s eye and I can see it like it happened yesterday. This storm came complete with falling tree limbs, debris hitting the windshield, lightning hitting the road directly in front of us, and visibility only as far as the sheeting rain and hail allowed.
I remember being completely filled with fear and I let my father know this with every scream and cry I had in me.
But I also remember the calming presence of my father. His right arm simply pulling me closer with each clap of thunder as his left was steering us closer to the safety of home. I know I was close enough that as each fear-filled element around us hit, my anxiety was calmed by the love and protection I felt as I snuggled into his side. Soon I must have fallen asleep for the next thing I remember I was tucked into my comfortable bed.
I had been fully assured that he was near and would be my protection, all I had to do was lean into it.
That day my earthly father had given me a glimpse of God, the Father’s heart for his children. Which also has given me an understanding of what will help us survive each and every fear-filled, storm-like situation that suddenly surround us.
We can be fully assured that God, the Father is near and longs for us to lean into His peace-filled presence.
That is where we find peace in the storm. It is our closeness to the Heavenly Father, who promises to come near as we cry out to him, that we can be assured that we will make it safely home. Personally, I long for such assurance; especially when my view these days is filled with the affects of the winds of terror attacks and the hail of gunfire howling around us. Again today his nearness was offered as I peered through both my News and Facebook feeds to see the hate and injustice revealed there that are ripping at the roots of my security and tossing them in the road ahead of me.
God the Father’s heart longs to offer us what we really need during this journey through a sin-laden, hurt-filled, stormy world; He offers us His abiding presence.
I see this as I continue to study the life of Jesus who, as our example, lived constantly in the abiding presence of God, the Father. The presence of Father God and the presence of the Son Jesus were so close they were actually one. Jesus longs for us to live with this same closeness to the Heavenly Father so that we can have the anxiety-free life he experienced during the storms of his time on earth. It was his prayer in John 17:21:
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
I see that because of this abiding presence of his Father he knew no fear as he rode across a storm tossed sea in the story we are told in Matthew 8.
He slept soundly knowing that his loving Father was directing them through this storm and would get them to the other side. He was only wakened by the anxious disciples who had not fully, faithfully realized who this was with them on that journey. And because Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19) he offered them the peace that God gives in every storm “and it was completely calm”
We are still offered that same peace of God the Father through each storm of life.
Before Jesus went to reside in Heaven he told us that he would send the Holy Spirit to be our advocate and with him came the same peaceful presence Jesus relied on in the boat that day. John 14 tells us:
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid
Just like on that day long ago when a storm was filling me with all the anxiety a 5 year old can muster and yet was calmed by the peace-filled presence and loving heart of my earthly father, my Heavenly father offers the same; no, actually much more of a peace-filled presence.
The loving heart of God, the Heavenly Father is very present today to pull me close with his strong right arm and then keeps guiding me home with his left.
Psalm 118:16-17 “The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!”
So what should we do as we are deluged by every storm of life; whether they are in the sky above us, on the screen in front of us,or even on the streets we walk everyday?
Trust the peace-filled, close presence of God the Father. His heart offers peace like no one else can. As we take captive our anxious thoughts and put our minds on our Heavenly Father, like Jesus, we will be kept in perfect peace and we may even get some really good sleep.