There are always those storms that stick in our minds.
The storm that sunk the whahine in Wellington Harbour… My dad wasn’t on the boat but he was on a business trip to wellington that day… due to fly home… I remember the relief my mother had when he rang that night saying he was Ok. He was in a hotel because he couldn’t fly out.
Cyclone Bola… I was working in a tunnel house complex in Te puke at the time. AS the winds began to rise and the dark storm clouds collected on the horizon. I found myself two stories up standing splay footed in a guttering frantically trying to repair our plastic roof before the storm hit. I was anchoring the plastic sheet down, I was holding a sail area more than a n Americas cup yacht.. When they had sails… while someone attached it. I half-jokingly said to my boss, now would be a good time to talk about danger money. We had to do it all over again of course when the storm finally cleared. I was also on the first flight out of Tauranga after the storm a frightfully bumpy experience. I also remember the surf at the mount the week after the storm. Some of the best I’ve even been in.
Psalm 29 is a vivid picture of a storm coming up off the Mediterranean Sea, sweeping over the hills of Lebanon uprooting cedars trees as if they were mere stalks of straw. Causing the sand and dust to rise up and swirl and as it came over the wilderness and onto Jerusalem: A devastating fatal storm. But God’s people are safe in the temple and as it passes they hear God’ voice in the howl of the wind and the resounding crash of thunder. They see God’s glory displayed in this very natural phenomenon. Unlike the other people of their day they do not think the storm is God or a dety to be feared or worshipped, they ae aware that their God, our God sits above the storm and is sovereign that God can be trusted to care for his people and keep them safe in the storm.
For us it’s not only a vivid picture of the worst nature cans throw at us it’s a metaphor for the storms that life throws at us. Times in our lives when it seems as if everything whirls around us like a tornado, or we are battered and bruised and things that we thought were solid are swept away. Storms that can leave us devastated and hurt…They even threaten to be fatal.
But there is hope and comfort in this psalm. God is a shelter in the storm. He is sovereign and above these storms, not distant and disinterested but unaffected, undiminished by their course. Like the psalmist we can hear God’s voice in the storm. In Jonah, the great storm threatens to swamp the boat Jonah is fleeing in. The great storm is God speaking to call Jonah back on track. In Acts paul on his way in chains to Rome is caught on a similar Mediterranean storm, it is rough and constant and people far for their lives. Yet God uses it to take Paul on his way to new mission fields new opportunities for ministry and miracle in Malta. In Psalm 107 with its vignettes of the exile returning to Jerusalem there is a picture of sailors on the sea… going up and down staggering round like they are drunk in the waves, yet God is with them and leads them through till they can reach safe harbour… They gather in the great assembly and tell of God’s leading and guiding and protection in the wild waves. Testifying to God’s goodness even in the face of the storm. All these are ways God uses storms to speak to his people. Ways he can use the storms in our life as well. If I may be so bold even the storms of the late autumn season.
But there is also the comfort and hope that not only des God speak through th storms he speaks to the storms as well. In Our New testament reading, Jesus is in the boat as they go over to the other side of the lake. A storm rises and threatens to sink the boat… There first though is well where is Jesus… and yes he is with them in the boat… but he is asleep and he just doesn’t seem to care…aren’t they the kind of responses we often have as the wind rises and he waves rage… Where are you God have you gone home put your feet up and fallen asleep in front of the tele… But Jesus stands and speaks to the wind and the waves and they still themselves It’s our hope and our comfort. But its also a challenge as Jesus rebukes his disciples and asks them where is their faith. In the storm or as it is being calmed by the voice of the one who loves us enough to weather the storm of cross and grave, we are called to have faith and say ‘Glory” knowing God is enthroned above the floods. God is able to see us through… to lead and guide us… and yes praise God to intervene and smooth and calm… let us stand in awe of the one whom even the wind and waves obey.