Sometimes it’s our sin that leads us to desert places where we feel distant from God. Other times, it’s not sin, but faithfulness that leads us to a place where waves and storms threaten to overtake us. What does the Christian do when we say “yes” to God, and end up someplace overwhelming?
In my last post, I shared some reflection on Psalm 107, in particular the verses detailing people who wandered away from God into a desert. But, verses 23-27 describe a whole new set of people.
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD, His wondrous works in the deep. For He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.”
This group of people aren’t necessarily described as faithless, just living life. Their reaction seems familiar to me: “Their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.”
Some people follow God, but then circumstances come into their lives and they’re afraid. Perhaps some of their faith gets swallowed up by towering waves and storms—to the point that the storms seem bigger than God.
You know what always helps me? A bookmark! “God’s will won’t take you where His strength won’t protect you.” That is great for all of those posters with eagles and ships on them. Snow globes and t-shirts. But. I live in the real world. I have storms that blow into my life that kick the breath out of me. And instead of a coffee mug, I need the power of the living God to be bigger than my fear. I need to be able to discern His voice. And be OK if the waves don’t die down on my timeline.
What I like about this section is that it acknowledges that the walk with God is not a never-ending vacation.
Storms are real.
Even for Christians who are obedient. I am not judging these people for their fear when times get hard.
This past fall, I went through Hurricane Irma with my sons. And, just as it got dark, a tornado warning blared–a twister was headed to our area. So, being the pillar of faith that I am, I began screaming and hyperventilating. I ordered my teenage sons and Boston terrier into our sardine-can sized bathroom. And, in the time it takes for a tornado to tear apart a home, I dragged a queen sized mattress downstairs and wedged that and myself on top of my offspring, then shut the door. And we waited. And then I remembered I am claustrophobic. And that my sons only take thirty seconds in between punching one another. And that Boston Terriers on the whole, are a breed prone to gas. And for all my hysteria, there was no tornado. Just a hurricane and some knocked over fencing. Awful sounds. But, we were fine.
The thing was–even the very distant threat of a storm set off a fearful reaction in me. And, my giving into fear led to another fearful decision. Which led to more focusing on listening for a tornado than connecting my heart to God.
Psalm 107 speaks of people in a calamity. Overwhelmed, and perhaps wondering why God would lead them out to a place where there was so much fear. Is it even realistic to face such storms and not be afraid? Jesus could speak, and the waves stop. God could cause the storm to never happen in the first place. But, in Psalm 107, He doesn’t. At least not right away.
In the last dying breath, filled with saltwater and tears, these people cry out to God in their distress. Help! I’m lost. I’m abandoned. Where are You? Is this faithlessness? Maybe. Or, maybe all it takes is a mustard seed dab of faith that doesn’t give up, even when all seems lost. Despite these odds, we’re just going to cry out anyway.
Verses 29-30 declare that after they call out to God, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” He brings the faithful people, even though they were afraid, to a safe haven. What He is really doing, I believe, is putting the storm in proper perspective. That storm is nothing compared to the authority of God. Nothing compared to the peace that He can give, even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. God will honor His people when they cry out.
What is God’s wisdom in this?
Keep saying yes to God.
Those people experienced God’s power as they saw the waves that were once threatening to drown them be mastered by God. He commands them. Don’t let fear keep you from saying a continual yes to God.
And, Just like in desert places, cry out to God. In your fear. When it seems like there is more wind and water than peace. Even if it is your last breath, it is never too late. You follow the Author of life. God is faithful and longs to redeem you in your darkest moments. He is not in the habit of turning His back on you, and He is not intimidated by your circumstances.
How beautiful, that moment of deepening faith when a person moves from fear to trust in God, when peace washes over and calms the waves.
O God, let that be my reality. That when I find myself in fear when I have lost sight of the strength I have in You, the “who” I am in the midst of the storm, that You never tire of meeting me in whatever my situation. Especially when I take risks for You, and the attack comes. You are there, ready to calm the storms when I cry out to You. Thank You Lord Jesus. Amen