A storm hit the south coast recently and the TV and radio told everyone to “stay in doors, take cover, don't go out in it”, basically to stay safe. All good and wise advice and I completely understand why they wanted as many people to stay off the roads. It was sad to see the damage to people's homes and businesses.
The photographer in me wanted to go to our local harbour and watch the ocean, to see first hand what this storm was doing to our break waters. I was surprised how many other people had the same idea. There was a traffic jam to get anywhere near the harbor and there were people everywhere, rugged up and excited; to face the storm “head on” and experience its power. In fact I was coming back from a ministry event, so I had on my best dress and shoes, not worrying I just threw on a rain coat over the top not concerned if I got wet; I just wanted to capture it all on camera.
So here we are wet, cold, wind blown, standing on the edge of the break-wall watching this amazing storm stir the sea into a frenzy, waves smashing into the lighthouse and breakwater with amazing power. We waited and waited, almost praying for it to get bigger and bigger, we wanted to see the force of the natural storm as strong as it could be. I later heard that the force of the waves actually crumbled a stone wall near where we were previously standing.
I watched from a distance young people standing right near the crash zone in order to let the massive waves crash over the break water and all over them. I was thinking how some people really love the thrill of being in the middle of that power and experiencing it first hand, even if it meant putting their life in danger. It was if they were saying to the storm "bring it on, you may knock me down but I will get back up again”. There was a part of me that wanted to go down there, but I was in my good clothes. I further thought wait I am 48 now - I really should be more responsible....so I just took pictures instead. I found out later than one of the young people I observed was my son, which I must say had crossed my mind at the time that he might be one of those crazy kids as I watched from afar.
From a safe distance, it was thrilling to watch natures show; the sheer power of the waves, the turbulence of the rolling sea, the crashing of the waves into the break-wall and even the boats being tossed around. To see what is normally a sleepy, force. I could not capture it adequately on a camera due to the sheer size of the waves and force of the wind. It was however so amazing to watch. I decided that I had to put down the camera and watch. Wave after wave - a never ending display of power battering the coast.
I could have stayed there for hours; it intrigued and mesmerised me. I wanted to keep watching, to get more intense, watch the waves pulverise the small harbour and display more and more of it's sheer force and power. I found it invigorating!
Later at home, settled in for the night safe and secure watching the news and hearing reports of the destruction that the storm had left in it's wake, I felt a little guilty that I simply saw it as a source of entertainment earlier that day.
I asked my self "Why was I so keen to watch the storm - to find it so thrilling? I knew that if everything I owned was destroyed I would have had a different attitude?” . A bigger question “I wonder why I can enjoy the storm as a spectator, but when life throws me a storm, even a small one, I am the first one to ask why this is happening – even the first to ask where is God - even why is God allowing this happen?"
What should our response be when the storms of life hit? Should we go out like my son and face it head on? To shout the to storm - “Give me your best shot, knock me over and watch me get back up again” OR “Why is this happening”?
Can we look at the storm and see His power and control? Perhaps even the lack of our control and be in awe of God OR to see it as God punishing us and not loving us? Can we face storm together? I had noticed in the harbour at the time that all the boats were tied to each other as they attempted to weather the storm. The fishermen know that together there is strength far greater than doing it alone. What is our response when there’s a storm in life? Do we retreat, run, hide, give up and let it defeat us - taking the storm personally even at times seeing it as Gods judgment upon us?
When you are in middle of the storm, being tossed and thrown about, it is not easy to see it any other way other than to survive. We certainly don't often sleep like Jesus did out in the storm. However as Jesus did, we can call out and ask the storm to be still. He CAN calm the storms if He wants to. Unfortunately sometimes when He doesn't it is hard for us to find the His peace and drawing upon His power discover His perspective, seeking the strength He promises to endure it. Sometimes we simply need to weather the storms that life WILL throw at us knowing that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger - this is not easy to do.
To choose NOT to be bitter, defeated - not to run or give up. Although there are many times I feel like this, it is just not an option for me. My prayer is that I get better at it as I walk with Him each day - that one day I can actually stand looking into the face of a storm and call out with unwavering resolution and confidence "Bring it on, you may knock me down, but I will get back up again.”