God Over The Storm
This summer, I lived with my sister and her nine kids. Sometimes at dinner, she uses this cute little book to start family conversations. It's a great way to hear the kids' personalities and who they are becoming as people.
One night, the question was "what is your biggest fear and would would happen if it came true?" Each kind took turns answering, mostly things about snakes and bugs, and then it was my turn.
Anyone who knows me knows I have two great fears: the dark and storms. These are children's fears, things people seem to outgrow around the time they hit puberty, but for me, they never left. So at the dinner table that night, I told my family about these fears and what would happen if these fears were realized. Any number of things can result from darkness (mostly being outside alone in the dark.. you know what I mean) and storms present their own sorts of damages, based on which kind of storm is raging. What I've realized in the past few years is that when our fears come true, even in tiny ways that we don't expect, that's when God steps in. Fears force us to face whether or not we can put into action what we believe about God.
Psalm 91 tells us that God is our protector.
"[He is] my refuge, my fortress..in whom I trust" (91:2)
"You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day" (91:5)
"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways" (91:11)
Isaiah 43 has a similar image:
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (43:2)
These passages are not meaningless; they are truth. They exist for us in our times of fear to trust in the Lord, trust that he means the things that are written in His word. In that sense, fears are a good thing. They force us to draw nearer to the Lord, which in turn, draws him nearer to us (James 4:8).
I moved to the Deep South almost three years ago without realizing it was a tornado zone. I always knew about Oklahoma and Kansas, but no one ever told me that Alabama had its fair share of tornadoes as well. I grew up in central Virginia. We got snow, which is easy enough to deal with -- you grab enough food at the grocery store, you bunker down until ice and snow melt for you to drive again. Every now and then we'd get hurricanes, but I lived far enough inland that all we ever really saw was a lot of rain and wind. A tree fell in my backyard a few years ago, but other than that, it was another case of buying some food and hanging out until the storm passed. We had maybe three earthquakes, but they were all small tremors, nothing like the earth splitting ones from episodes of Grey's Anatomy.
So imagine my surprise the first time I sit through a true tornado warning on the bathroom floor with my roommates, eating pasta salad, watching Doppler Radar on my laptop. I was in tears. I'd never experienced a storm like this. The meteorologist was mentioning roads and landmarks less than a mile from apartment. I panicked.
This panic hasn't subsided. Whenever the word "tornado" is mentioned, I completely lose it. This weekend, Georgia experienced a "high risk" alert for tornadoes. I woke up to thunder and lightning, but once I checked the news, I felt the anxiety again. I wasn't going to leave the house, even though I barely had any food. I literally texted people from the floor of my closet freaking out about the weather. I could hear the tornado sirens blaring, and I got the university alert about the tornado warning through three different media -- like I needed anything to add to my panic.
But then I remembered the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus sleeps on the boat while a storm rages. His disciples are afraid. They wake Jesus up and ask why he doesn't care that they are perishing. He wakes up, commands the sea to be still, then calls the disciples cowards [Most translations use the word "afraid," but the greek word there actually means "cowards" -- Jesus was less than pleased] and asks why they still have no faith.
There's a line, I believe, between taking necessary safety precautions and not trusting the Lord's sovereignty over the wind, the sea, the rain, the thunder and the lightning. When Job cries out to God, God finally answers with all the things he has power over.
"Who shut in the seas with doors?" (38:8)
"What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?" (38:24)
"Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt?" (38:25)
"Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'?" (38:35)
We see his control of nature in Exodus through the 10 plagues. In chapter 7, he turns the water of the Nile to blood. He literally turned a river into blood. He creates a hail storm that rages on the Egyptians, yet they still don't listen. Let's not forget the locusts and the gnats and flies and frogs. When the Israelites are finally let free, he parts the Red Sea for them to get through.
So even though you might find me in my closet the next time a tornado siren goes off, just know while I'm laying on the ground, I'll be singing praises to the King (probably in the form of Lauren Daigle's song "I Am Yours," where I stole the title of this blog from). Because even though I may be afraid, He will comfort me. This place of fear is a weakness, and 2 Corinthians 12:10 reminds me that "when I am weak, then I am strong."