The Sun After the Storm
The first day of this new year, we drove to the coast to spend the weekend in a rental house near the beach. A quick glance at my weather app told me it would be a wet weekend, but a closer look would have warned me a winter storm was barreling in.
The first downpour was already soaking us in the few steps from the car to the front door as we unloaded our bags and settled in. From there, the rain continued unbroken for a solid 48 hours, vacillating between medium flow and full-on gusher. The wind was even more impressive than the rain. Gusts up to 50 miles per hour rattled the house and lashed the rain against the windows. The lights flickered several times and we wondered if the power would hold.
Watching the wind rip the tops off massive waves in the storm surge from the safety of a warm house is a thrilling experience. The contrast of the calm and cozy inside with the thrashing tempest just on the other side of the glass inevitably reminds me that God is my refuge, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
On Saturday we geared up and ventured out into the relentless gale. We walked up the tiny sliver of available beach, heads bent low to keep the stinging rain out of our faces. Turning around to put the wind at my back, I leaned back into tempest with my arms spread wide and the flow was so strong it could almost fully support me. Half an hour later we were as drenched as if we had gone swimming as we again took refuge in the house while the storm raged on.
I awoke in the middle of the night to a strange sound: silence. The absence of the once constant roar was incredibly striking, and I saw through the skylight a single star. (Yes, I thought of Sam’s moment in Mordor.) I drifted back to sleep with a renewed sense of peace and hope.
As the first Sunday service at Evergreen was preparing to begin, we took another walk on the beach, but this time in beautiful sunshine and a gentle breeze. The conditions felt like a miracle after the constant howling of the past couple days and we strolled along lazily in an attitude of wonder. It was a new day in a new year.
I am excited to begin this new year. I can’t help it. My eagerness is certainly not due to an expectation that 2021 will be a calm after the chaos of 2020. I am no prophet, but I actually anticipate the opposite: increasing tumult as the years roll on. No, my enthusiasm is more like our beach walk in the middle of the storm. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was totally worth it because I knew I had a refuge in the midst of it. Moreover, I knew that no matter how terrible the storm, it was only temporary, and that the sun would eventually shine again. So, as I face this new year, my God has said to me, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) That is a year worth looking forward to.