Sunday, 15 March 2015

In the eye of the storm

I've been closely following the monster super cyclone Pam, as it has wreaked more havoc and destruction in Vanuatu than any of us should have to bear.

The devastation numbs the heart and mind.

As I looked closely at the infra red satellite imagery, as Pam bore inexorably down on the tiny island nation, I noticed the eye of calm in the middle. Where wind barely was. And yet on its edges was the worst of the storm - winds of up to 200mph. Unimaginable.

And so is life. I spent the morning in a seminar examining 'Growing With God in Difficult Times'. Graham Archer from CPAS led us to examine our responses to different life crises.

I felt as if I was in the eye of the storm. Because, as I considered how, at times, I feel unbearably crushed, I took heart from the apostle Paul's own experiences which were, in fact, far worse than mine: "My friends, I want you to know what a hard time we had in Asia. Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain. 9 In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life." 2 Corinthians 1:8 - 9

We listened. We talked. We considered the many, many survival mechanism we humans use to respond to a crisis.

We pray; search the Bible for wisdom and comfort; read other Christians' wisdom in books and blogs;
We face up to the implications, or we 'park' the problem until we can deal with it;
We rationalise, thinking it through;
We look back at past difficulties, looking at how God has carried us through

And so we seek the prayers of others; try to see the problem as a growth or ministry opportunity; get on with life, hiding in busyness; and we fight worry and anxiety, fear and stress.

And I learnt. I learnt of the crisis of pain and fear, physical and emotional. And how important, in it, it is to give myself

  • time
  • information
  • the opportunity to talk.
And when the crisis comes, it brings with it the crisis of meaning, of identity. If I am ill/unemployed/bereaved...then who am I? Do I matter any more? Am I worth the same amount as when I can write a list of my achievements and 'possessions' - even relationships?
  • then the only solution is in the spiritual disciplines: prayer, fasting, reading, worship...
The crisis of death invites me to keep in perspective who I am: remembering that we pray that the 'body of Christ will keep us in eternal life'. ETERNAL life.

And then there is the crisis of life. The criosis of living NOW, of keeping close to God, in difficulties, and in calm. 

Because life is cyclonic. We find ourselves on the edge of the storm where there is barely a rustle of wind to disturb our peace; or caught up in the maelstrom, as difficulties seem to grow, like the winds, ever stronger; or even in an unnatural calm and peace when right in the middle of it. But everywhere, throughout the storm, GOD IS THERE.

We need no satellite image to remind us.

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