Eye of the Storm

The world was falling apart all around me. I was five, huddled into a hotel room in Sumter, South Carolina. We had traveled an hour and half inland to seek refuge from Hurricane Hugo. The bumper-to-bumper traffic on every road headed west was over-flowing with our fellow evacuees. Our home was on the very river forecasters were predicting the hurricane to make landfall over, we had no choice but to leave. Hugo was a strong category four hurricane and we rightfully feared the worst.

Sumter wasn’t far enough as tornadoes ripped the town to shreds during the night. I’ll never forget the sounds of that night, as if the wind turned to metal and proceeded to clash with the very gods. The carnage that we awoke to the next day proved greater than we could imagine. As we drove home around downed trees and power lines, witnessing others’ homes who had been destroyed, we hoped to find our coastal home still standing. Hope may be an overstatement.

Anyone who has lived trough a severe hurricane knows the power that they wield, power to destroy. They deserve their names because unlike any other weather phenomenon, they have a personality, a vengeance and sometimes a grace. We talk about them like we knew them, because we did.

One of the unique characteristic of hurricanes are their eyes. When you look a satellite image of one, it stares at you ominously. It is from this core the whole storm derives its sheer force but phenomenally, the eye is absolutely calm.

The eye of Hugo missed our home to the south but I had friends who braved (or fooled) out the storm and found themselves in the eye. They reported that it was like the storm had ended, they would walk out to a light breeze and rays of sun. But swirling all around them were 150 mile per hour winds ravaging everything in its path. But there was safety in the eye.

Jesus tells his followers that in this world we will have trouble and a quick look around affirms this teaching. When we read the headlines and listen to the stories around us, it can seem as if the world is falling apart. It is more scary than gods clashing because it seems as if the gods have left us and hope in safety is hopeless.

But just as Jesus promised us trouble, he promises us joy in its very presence. This is not a disembodied joy where everything is perfect and clean, but joy that finds itself knee-deep in the mud; a joy found in the very eye of the storm.

And what is the source of this joy? Jesus has overcome death.

As the world rages, we know the story does not end there but that even through that rage, joy will come. Because we do not hope in ourselves or the gods, but in the crucified and resurrected Jesus. The one who found himself in the eye of the storm on the cross, as all the pain of the world cam crashing down on him and death itself took him. But the power of love, the power of God gave him the last laugh.

Its a bit like Lieutenant Dan riding out the hurricane from the mast of Gump’s shrimp boat, we find our peace with God in the very face of death, in the eye of the storm.

Michael is the pastor of the Church @ Argenta in North Little Rock, AR. You can read his blog here.

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2 responses to “Eye of the Storm

  1. Georgie-ann

    Isaiah 26 [A Song of Salvation] (excerpts)

    1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

    “We have a strong city;
    God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.
    2 “Open the gates,
    That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in.
    3 “YOU WILL KEEP HIM IN PERFECT PEACE,
    WHOSE MIND IS STAYED ON YOU,
    BECAUSE HE TRUSTS IN YOU.
    4 “Trust in the Lord forever,
    For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength. …

    9 “With my soul I have desired You in the night,
    Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
    For when Your judgments are in the earth,
    The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
    10 “Let grace be shown to the wicked,
    Yet he will not learn righteousness;
    In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
    And will not behold the majesty of the Lord. …

    12 “Lord, You will establish peace for us,
    For You have also done all our works in us. …

    20 “Come, my people, enter your chambers,
    And shut your doors behind you;
    Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
    Until the indignation is past. … ”

    Job 13:15,16
    15 “THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I TRUST HIM. …
    16 “He also shall be my salvation,
    For a hypocrite could not come before Him.”

    John 6:67-69

    67 “Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, ‘Would ye also go away?’

    68 “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

    69 ” ‘And we have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God.’ ”

    Stress. Turmoil. Within and without. It is all around us. It may be predictable. It may not be predictable. Life is fundamentally unstable. Instead of treating it like some kind of wild and chaotic “joy ride,” — where the essence is always risk and greater edginess, — the righteous (and sensible) seek their Lord, their Redeemer, their Salvation, and find their safety in Him.

    One of the most important aspects of “spirituality,” is finding “the eye of the storm” within. The eye moves, so simply “standing still” is not an option. We can be so easily blind-sided by that reverse blast of wind, if we are not prepared to take shelter.

    Establishing Peace within. God’s Word and prayer. Getting to “know Him,” seeking Him early. And it IS pleasant to dwell in these spiritual places within.

    Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”

    Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

    Psalm 1:1-3
    1 “Blessed is the man
    Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
    2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
    3 “He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
    And whatever he does shall prosper.”

    Amen. Getting to “know God” is definitely counter-cultural, but He IS the only sure oasis in the storms of life.

  2. Georgie-ann

    Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”

    Psalm 135:3 “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.”

    Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.”

    Living in the “eye of the storm” as a spiritual “way” and pattern for life, can be very good indeed. I am reminded of Brother Lawrence’s, “Practice of the Presence of God.”

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