Thursday, August 24, 2006

The “I” of the storm

I’ve been “off the air” for over a week. I’ll talk more about “what’s been happening” as I catch up over the next few days.

Today is about a topic that has been running through my mind off & on for several months.

It seems that this year has been the year for us to experience (mostly the aftermath) of violent storms.

In March we saw first hand the devastating effects of Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast (Click HERE to see John Dobb’s “by the numbers” report from FEMA to get an idea of the magnitudeof that damage) However, it wasn’t just the property damage – it was people like the Kelly’s and Charlotte who lost almost everything they had and were forced out of their homes –- and they were among the “lucky ones” who weren’t injured, who had other places to go, who were able to rebuild and restore some semblance of ”normality” in their lives.

In July/August we saw and then experienced first hand the power of tornadoes that swept through Northern Ontario (see Stormy North and A “twist”of Fate)

Last week, we saw first hand some of the damage that was done by the first of those tornadoes and damaging winds as the first July storm swept across the Manitoulin Island (I’ll have some pictures from our friend’s camp in a later post). Just this morning we saw the reports of the devastating F-2 tornadoes in Saskatchewan. (see Tornado story)

This “taste” of ”damaging” storms has convinced me that I never want to be anywhere near the “eye” of F2 (or higher) tornado or a category 4 or 5 hurricane or an building destroying earthquake or any of those types of natural disasters that cause such wide spread damage to property and leave hurting, broken people in their wake.

This may seem like an obvious statement—after all, not many would want these experiences. My point is that without first hand experience it is difficult to really understand how destructive and how frightening these disasters can be.

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible -- (Is it possible to have 1000 favorites – because my favorite story seems to depend on the situation and circumstances –which I guess is an illustration of the richness of God’s revelation to us and the complexity and diversity of the challenges we encounter in life)

Re-phrasing - My favorites Bible accounts about storms are
Jesus coming to the disciples “walking on the water (Matt. 14:22-32) and
Jesus sleeping while the storm rages and then calming it (Matt.8:23-27)

Maybe I’m rambling a bit but my thought in all this is that it isn’t so much about “where is the “eye” of the storm ?” so we can get away or stay away from it. Rather it is more important to ask “Where am ”I” in the storm?

So some thoughts on that

One of the gifts we can give our children is to go where the storms have been (if the storms don’t come to us) -There they can experience the realities of finding God in the midst of the storm. They can experience the “ups” (trust in Jesus in spite of the storm) and ”downs” (sinking into the waves of despair) of faith. In those "ups" and "downs" they can see that, while God may not prevent pain, he can give us a way through it—if we trust in him ( (see John Dobb’s story about Jenelle & Emily and Alice & Christina for more on this thought).

Of course this can and should be done at home or anywhere by going into our communities and finding those who lives have been turned upside down by the storms of life— poverty, crime, addictions and the like. I just think that physical disasters allow us to develop faith and compassion which will let us better deal with the more “invisible “but nonetheless devastating storms—some of which are the direct result of poor personal choices.

(When we were raising our children I think we may have protected them from the storms rather than taking them into the “I” of the storm—I wonder if that was a mistake. If it was, I pray that God’s working in their lives has not been hindered too much by my failure to seethis then.)

I have ”mused” before ( see “Why not me?”) on the question of ”why” some people seem to experience one “storm” after another while other’s ( and I include myself here) seem to go through life just seeing the “fringes” of the storm or ”reminders” of the possibility of storms. Some wonder “where is God in the midst of all the pain and chaos of their lives?”. Others struggle with demonstrating faith in the midst of ”mild winds and small waves”.

I have been reading Philip Yancy’s book “Disappointment with God” (see for example Zondervan listing) and I think that he speaks to both these situations. It is after all a matter of “perception”. The real underlying “disaster” in all our lives is to “deny God”.

How we find faith and remain loyal to our God is the critical "struggle" of our lives?

I think it is just as tough (perhaps tougher ) to do this if we are “healthy, (relatively) wealthy and wise (by this world’s standards) as it is "easy" to “curse" God when we are in serious storms (as Job’s wife suggested that he do –Job 2:9).

For those who may havelost faith because you didn't see God inthe "storm"(or in the "calm"_ Yancy is a good place to go for some questions and help in rediscovering the Invisible God (another book he wrote).

If your life is (relatively” smooth and easy – then my advice is seek the “I” of the storm. Once you find God there (and you can)—he will stay with you –in the good times and the bad.

(Sounds like the “marriage vows”—for better or worse, sickness & health,etc.. This appropriate because as Yancy points out God’s greatest desire is that we love him “freely” even when he seems to be ”silent & invisible”)

God Bless

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