Have you ever been caught in a storm?
To be honest, I love a good storm, provided I am safe indoors with all my loved ones and a cupboard stocked of provisions. I don’t even mind when the power goes out because it means I have to eat the ice cream first. One must be practical in these situations.
Snow is one thing, but I what I really love a good rain storm. Recently when we were on vacation, we had a full day of Mexican rain. While others in my group were disheartened by the grey skies and teaming rain, I was excited! It was a warm rain. I was happy to continue swimming, unlike so many others who jumped out of the pool to take cover. What is that about? Thunder and lightening I understand, but rain? Aren’t they already wet?
There is something rather exciting about a storm but not all storms are created equal.
When Brian and I were first dating, Brian wanted to share with me all the things he enjoyed, hoping no doubt that I would love them too. And so, one lovely summer afternoon Brian took me sailing. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? When he first broached the idea I had visions about sitting comfortably at the back of the boat, sipping some exotic drink and eating cheese and crackers while calmly cruising on Lake Ontario. The sun would be kissing our faces and the wind would be flowing through my hair as we gently glided by the beautiful houses built on the shore of St. Catharines. Sign me up! I was ready for my first nautical experience.
However, that was not exactly how it was.
The boat that we were sailing in was a little yellow Mirror dinghy that Brian and his dad built back when Brian was a kid. It was all of 10 feet long (if we were lucky). It was small. We sat on either side of each other with the daggerboard between us. The orange mainsail attached to the mast and boom prevented Brian from seeing the look of dismay on my face.
'Okay, so there will be no lounging or snacks,’ I thought to myself. ‘I can handle that. And besides Brian looks so handsome in his orange life vest’.
So off we went into to very large body of water that now immensely dwarfed the already petite Mirror dinghy.
The sail was fine. We sailed for awhile and then the sun hide behind a cloud. The skies began to get darker and just as quickly the winds picked up.
Now let me tell you that for a sailer, when the winds pick up this is great news! Not so much for a landlubber. Brian popped his butt onto the edge of the boat and began leaning out over the rail.
“Come on Mona, come to this side. It’s called hiking!” I shifted to his side of the boat but was not enticed to get my behind wet.
“It’s called stupid", I replied. "Please get back in the boat”.
Brian either ignored me or couldn’t hear me over the rush of wind and waves. He was loving it. “This”, he said, “is real sailing!”
I was no longer having fun. This was now moving into extreme sport territory and I wanted to go home and dry off. No sooner had I requested that we head back when the skies became darker and even more foreboding and the wind more than the wee Mirror could handle, not to mention the chop on the water causing a large pool in the bottom of the boat.
I looked at Brian’s face as he instructed me to duck as the boom swung and we came about. He didn’t look as relaxed as he once had.
A storm had hit quite suddenly and we were in the middle of a big lake in a little boat. Brian had a firm grip on the situation but I could tell by his clenched jaw that even this was more ‘real sailing’ than he intended for our first nautical outing.
I know I tend to err on the side of dramatic but just imagine: this little sail boat in the middle of Lake Ontario. The skies darken and the wind picks up, the waves start to push water into the boat, it starts to rain and in the distance (and I am not kidding) we see a freighter ship headed our way. To make the picture complete there is a brown girl sitting now on the floor of the boat having a ‘come to Jesus’ moment. I may even have been crying.
Brian competently navigates the dinghy toward the shore and just as we near it the halyard (the line that raises the sail) snapped. Yup, the main ropey thing that makes a sail a sail just snaps. Brian calmly but quickly retrieves the emergency paddles as I sang What a Friend We Have in Jesus. I remained calm as Brian paddled the short distance back. He knew exactly what to do, I had no need to fear.
Storms come into our lives. Some storms aren’t so bad, and as we look back it was as though we swam through it. Other storms are more difficult but we manage. And then there are storms that take our breath away. They cause us to fear and to question “Where is God?”, “Why am I going through this?”, “Will this ever end?”, “How is this going to end?”, or “Doesn’t God care?”.
Do you remember the story when Jesus and the disciples got in the boat to “go over to the other side”? (Mark 4: 35-41) A storm hit and the waves were breaking over the boat. The disciples panic, so they went to Jesus who was napping in the stern of the boat. Obviously not a Mirror dinghy! The disciples woke Him up and asked Him, “Don’t you care if we drown?”.
We read that Jesus got up and “rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”' And the wind died down and it was completely calm. Then He looked to his disciples and said, “Why are you so afraid”, as if to say, "guys, I am right here, what are you worried about?"
Why are you so afraid? Great question isn’t it?
What a wonderful reminder that in the midst of our storm, we are not alone.
When you face difficulties that you can’t control — trust! God’s word is clear. In the midst of your storm God is with you. So why are you so afraid?
God is closer than you think!