"...And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock" (Matthew 7:24-27).
Journeys of worth include storms. Frodo's journey in The Lord of the Rings was fraught with danger, death, and struggle. Dorothy's journey in The Wizard of Oz was filled with times where the wicked witch sought to steal her shoes and prevent her from traveling further. The Pevensie children's journey in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, saw one brother betray the others for a box of turkish delight. Jesus Christ's own journey to the cross was one that involved immense suffering, to the point of death and separation from the Father. Crises, suffering, and challenges are characteristic of journeys that matter and our prayer is that likewise, the ELI journey would be one of true worth, and thus requires storms.
Why might storms be so important, even necessary? Here are a few thoughts for us to consider:
Storms Show Us Our Foundation: As Jesus describes in the Matthew 7 passage above, when the rain, floods, and winds come, we find out what we have founded our house on. When we discover ourselves "founded on the rock" we can rejoice and continue to reinforce that foundation built on Christ, our cornerstone. However, when we realize we have founded our house on the sand, God still gives us the good gift of grace to see the truth of what the world has to offer (over-promise and under-deliver) and re-found ourselves in Him alone. In discussing decision-making and our core values this week, may we see storms as what can provide insight to know if our base (purpose/core values) is aligned with those of Jesus.
Storms Build Bridges To Serve Others: If anyone knew about storms, both literal and figurative, it was Paul. Beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked numerous times, Paul suffered greatly for the sake of the Gospel. However, it was often in his place of greatest despair that God provided him power to encourage followers of Christ suffering around the world. "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12). How might your storms have fashioned you to be lead with greater compassion, care, and able to more clearly sense and serve the needs of others?
Storms Reveal Our Lack of and God's Total Control: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41) When storms hit the disciples in Mark, great fear filled all those in the boat as they recognized they could do nothing. However, Jesus knew that He was in complete control. Sometimes, I know that I can falsely think that I am in control: of my life, my work, my relationships. Storms, in a beautifully difficult way, tend to rip this lie away, forcing me to look to Christ as the only thing worthy of my hope and faith. Acting in courage, letting go of comfortable for the possible, furthers our ability to embrace this freeing and empowering truth.
Storms shape us, move us, change us. However, while they can be a refining, storms are not easy, nor are they kind. You may be in a storm, just exiting, far from, or perhaps only beginning. For our heroes, what allowed them to persevere? Among other things, Frodo knew the urgency and necessity of his purpose. Dorothy, armed with her ruby red slippers, traveled with loyal companions of complementary strengths. The Pevensie children encountered Aslan (C.S. Lewis' metaphor for Jesus), allowing Him to lead them. Along with all these things, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, that we may be drawn to the Father even as He draws us. This week, rather than avoiding the storm in our life and our workplaces, how might we instead lock arms with one another in real accountable community, put on our armor daily, keep our purpose before us, and engage in the opportunity that God allows us in the challenge? "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 3:14).