Not too long after everyone in our home fell asleep on the evening of Feb. 28th, a fairly-impressive hailstorm hit mid-Missouri.
Sometime after 11 p.m., the wind began blowing powerfully enough such that decent-sized chunks of ice began raining down on our rooftop and glass windows, creating a terrible racket and waking our entire family. As I awoke, barely discernible above the sound of thousands of ice chunks striking our home, I could sense that my 10-year-old son across the hall was feeling some confusion and beginning to panic. Though I was pretty groggy, I bolted out of bed and stumbled toward the doorway of his bedroom.
And then something interesting happened. After I assured him that I was awake and aware of the storm outside, he lay back in his bed and fell fast asleep.
Mind you, the cumulative noise level in our home was still solidly in the category of “Daaaang!” Going back to sleep seemed like an impossibility in the midst of this barrage. For my part, I was actually beginning to wonder if some of the windows in our home might give way to the pounding they were getting. “Do I have enough plywood and/or heavy-gauge cardboard in the garage to patch multiple openings?” Such were my unspoken thoughts as I walked to the front door to look outside. By the time I headed back to my bedroom, I could already hear our boy snoring. Less than three minutes had gone by.
The storm passed, all of our windows held – thank You, Lord – and Eli got a far better night of sleep than his old man. (Or his mother, for that matter.)
Whenever I read the Gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, I am regularly amazed at His ability to remain calm in the face of the severely-awful behavior of others or to sleep peacefully in a boat that is – as far as any of the experienced fishermen on hand can tell – doomed (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41). What I find astonishing about these accounts is the apparent indifference of Jesus to the very-real fears of His disciples. Everything in our experience cries out for at least one of the disciples to respond to this storm-rocked boat-sleeping with something like, “Well, yes, actually, Jesus, we are all terrified. We still want to follow after You, of course, but right now it looks like our cheerful little ministry team is done for.”
Perhaps I am only speaking for myself, but I find that I often “forget” that the Lord actually loves me (John 3:16) and has my best interests at heart (Jeremiah 29:11). His good plans for me include absolutely everything, up to and including my eventual death (Romans 8:28-29). Were the windows to have given way late on Feb. 28th, the Lord would have purposed it for a reason that I simply cannot understand. Maybe He would want me to have a future window-repair-related conversation with someone I hadn’t previously met, either on the phone or in person. Or perhaps someone would be in my home assessing the damage and (as has happened previously) strike up a conversation regarding the various Christian books we have laying around. Maybe I just needed to be further tested and refined in my desire to be more patient and kind in the midst of yet another First-World Problem.
Late on the day of Feb. 28th, at least one of the 842-and-counting things God was doing with that ice storm of His was giving me a word picture that would firmly press itself onto my heart, in a way that the countless retellings of the hapless disciples on the Sea of Galilee had not. After all, He had been very patient with me these past 56 years as I labored – and failed – to understand how it was that Jesus could fall asleep on an old fishing boat in the middle of a turbulent squall. Now, whenever I ask the question, “How can Jesus be asleep during all of this?” I can almost hear God respond in kind: “How is it that your son is able to fall asleep when the sound of missiles hitting your home is deafening?”
And so, yet again, my little boy has given his old man yet another lesson in the theology of trust, a sharpened appreciation for simple concepts that I really ought to have mastered by now. Most days, I really do envy the childlike simplicity of Eli’s equations: “I am in my father’s house, and he is with me. I’m going to be just fine.”
May you and I always seek to be worthy of that trust…even as we strive to extend it to Christ.
Psalm 23 (ESV)
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord