There is something about catastrophic weather that fills me with fear and awe at the same time. There have been some storms- thunderstorms, snow storms, and ice storms- this past year that have been awful. Look out the window today, “Hello, blizzard of 2011.”
This past winter has been one of the worst winters I’ve ever lived through. Maybe that’s because I have developed a whole new fear to snow. Three weeks ago, there was a wintery mix that I was driving through hoping to get to work on time. I was driving slow, sitting up in my seat with my hands gripped around the steering wheel; I had gloves on, but I’m sure my knuckles must have been white. I was two exits away from where I wanted to be, when all of a sudden I realized I was in the lane for the exit ramp and not the right hand lane. Wanting to correct my error, I checked my mirror and cautiously tried to switch lanes, but I was not cautious enough. My back tires lost traction and my car began to spin.
I spun three times, but instead of being panicked I was surprisingly calm. I remember thinking, just let go and the car will straighten itself out, but that’s not what happened. The back of my car hit one telephone pole and then it hit another one. Before I could catch my breath, I was facing the wrong direction on an exit ramp with the back of my car smashed like a crushed soda can.
Weather has a way of filling us with fear. The world that we live in suddenly begins to dissipate, hurricanes overcome cities full of life, earthquakes crush civilization, tsunamis destroy hope in an instant. Weather of any kind changes are plans, and we enter the harsh reality that we are not in control.
One night at camp, we were in a general session during training and it began to rain. This storm seemed to happen at the perfect time because we were all in the lodge, getting ready for some worship and a speaker. During worship, it began to rain. It started off as a very light summer rain, the pitter patter, keeping beat with the acoustic guitar that had just begun to strum the chorus of Grace Like Rain by Todd Agnew. As we continued to sing, the rain became louder. It was hitting the windows hard and the wind had picked up and was howling as it traveled over the lake and through the trees. And in an instant, our humanity had become humbly apparent.
It is when we are most helpless, when we are not in control, that we realize how much we need grace- how much we need God. It reminds me of the account that Matthew gives of Jesus calming the storm. The wind and the waves picked up, and the disciples are afraid that they are going to die, but Jesus says, “Why are you afraid. O you of little faith?”
The Psalmist of Psalm 46, has the faith that the disciples did not. The Psalmist acknowledges the mightiness of creation, “…though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar in foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” However, the Psalmist looks past the catastrophic acts of creation only to see the Creator. Verse 2 says, “Therefore we will not fear.”
Storms stir my heart with fear because I realize that I am not in control. I recognize the raw reality that I am in danger and there is nothing I can do about it. But it is in times when I am standing in the snow watching my car be towed away that I am in awe of God’s grace and my need for faith. While we are not in control of the weather, God is. He directs the direction of the wind, He knows how many raindrops are going to fall, and He paints the earth in snow. It is during thunderstorms, snow storms, and ice storms that we not only see the power of the God we have faith in, but His grace. His grace of revealing his power so that we may have more faith. His grace of showing us His wrath, but saving us from it. His grace of overlooking our little bit of faith, and helping us to make it stronger.
The awe of a weather is seeing God. The last two verses of Psalm 46 capture the attitude that God desires from us during these times, “ ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!’ the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” The weather may change our plans and strip us of our control, but may it also humble us. Let us take the time to be still and know that God is God.