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Braving the Storms

  • Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
  • 2007 8 Aug
  • COMMENTS
Braving the Storms
A storm hovered over the state of Pennsylvania; always an ominous bit of news when sitting at an airport gate, waiting for zones to be called. Still, with gray skies growing darker by the moment, one by one the nearly 200 passengers of Flight 292 shuffled onto the 300-seat plane waiting at our gate in Philadelphia’s rambling airport.

My seatmate and I sat near the back of the plane, with only one row between the lavatories and us, then the galley. He sat in his assigned window seat; I sat in the aisle seat. The seat between us was unoccupied. When the pilot had called for all cell phones to be shut down and the flight attendants to “prepare for departure,” we exhaled a sigh of relief because it remained that way. As the plane began to roll toward the runway, I reached for the novel I’d been absorbed in for over a week. I was near the end and pretty anxious to know how it concluded.

I felt the plane turn in preparation for takeoff, heard the engines rev, then die. The pilot’s voice boomed over the speaker. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “Air Traffic Control has informed us of a pretty bad storm hovering out there about 70 miles to the south. All flights have been ordered to shut down their engines and wait this thing out, so we’re going to be sitting here for a while. As more information comes in, we’ll be sure to keep you informed.”

We sat in our place and so did the storm. An hour had passed when the pilot’s voice returned. Since the storm wasn’t coming toward us, he said, we would now fly toward it.

Flying Into the Storm

As expected, the flight up and out was uneventful. I had put my novel down for the few minutes between takeoff and cruising toward the thick black clouds. The sky was turning the colors of dusk as the sun made its descent toward the other side of the earth. Somewhere in the distance it was midnight blue. I blinked at the sight of the eventual then went back to my book, half-heartedly thinking that if the flight got bad enough to take us home to Glory, at least I’d know how the story ended.

We hit the clouds. Overhead, letters lit up, telling us to keep our seatbelts buckled and to “return to our seats.” Not that any of us had left our seats, mind you. We all knew what was coming and we’d prepared ourselves. I gripped the sides of my books and my knuckles turned a deeper shade of white. I dipped my head toward the pages and forced myself to concentrate on fiction vs. reality. When the bumping and bouncing of the plane ceased, I leaned my shoulders back and exhaled. Possibly for the first time in several minutes.

My seatmate tapped me on my shoulder and I looked toward him. “Look out there,” he said. With no one between us, I made an easy shift toward the window and peered to the left and to where his finger pointed. Bright and shining alone in the black of night, a star danced, seeming to stretch its light like arms at morning’s light. “Venus rising,” he said.

“Wow,” I replied. In moments like this, there is little else left to say.

“Now, look over there,” he said, pointing to the right.

I turned my head a bit. The sky was a brilliant sunburst of reds and oranges.

“The sunset,” my seatmate said.

“Oh, my goodness….”

“Now look straight down.”

I strained against the strap of my seatbelt but managed to peer down to where dark clouds swirled around a lightening show. My breath caught in my throat at the magnificence of it all.

I leaned back and caught my seatmate’s eyes. “And to think,” I said, “we would have missed this had we not flown into the storm.”

My seatmate, Christian author and speaker Bryan Davis, smiled and said, “There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.”

“That’ll preach, brother,” I said. “That’ll preach.”

Learning from the Storms

The Bible is filled with stories of and lessons from storms. The destruction of the wicked in Genesis 19 was due to the “raining down of burning sulfur” on the cities, a reminder that when God speaks, He means business.

Jonah, an Old Testament hero, fought God’s order to go to Nineveh, jumping on a ship bound for Tarshish. After the boat had set sail, a violent storm swelled. Jonah ended up in the belly of a big fish but eventually followed God’s order. This led to the conversion of Nineveh’s people to God.

Paul, a New Testament hero, was Acts 27 after a storm had tossed the ship he was traveling on for more than fourteen days. While there, he laid hands on the sick of the island and they were healed.

There are, of course, the storms on the Sea of Galilee. In Matthew 8 we read of a storm that sent the disciples of Jesus into a panic while their Master slept peacefully somewhere in the boat as it rocked and rolled over Galilee’s waves. In Matthew 14 Jesus put His disciples in another boat and told them to head over to the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee. While Jesus was praying, a storm came up. He left His place of prayer and walked out, stepping on the water that was pounding against the boat. The disciples thought He was a ghost, but when Jesus called out to them, Peter left the boat in an action of faith that is often forgotten. We tend to remember that he began to sink in the water after walking on it because he took his eyes off Jesus and refocused on the wind.

But like the pilot of our flight, Peter braved the storm. He was willing to attempt to ride it out, only to discover that it was impossible without holding on to the hand of Jesus. It was easier to focus on the circumstance rather than the One who held the outcome. In the end, Peter did not sink. Though he began to sink, he was caught by Jesus and walked back toward the boat with the Lord.

The Difference in Calming the Sea and Calming His Child

Several years ago, Scott Krippayne sang a song expressing the difference in God’s calming the sea and calming his child. In the stories above—and no doubt in our own lives—we can see the times when God has done one or the other, or one before the other. Rarely, however, do we jump for joy as we approach the storm, anticipating the beauty we’ll see when we’ve reached its end. Rarely do we take off “flying” or jump out of the boat racing toward Jesus screaming, “Yes, Lord!”

Many years ago I was in the midst of a “storm.” I spoke to a pastor friend of mine who said, “You look back and see the beginning of the storm and you see the wind and waves as you ride out the middle of it. But God sees straight through to the end of the storm. He sees the answers to your every prayer as though they have already happened. He sees the results of your time here. So, when you pray through this, you can rest in that.”

And so can you. Whatever storms you are riding out, look for Jesus. Grab His hand and look beyond the circumstance. God does. He is sending Venus rising in the dark of night. He is displaying the glory of a sunset and the power of lightning before your very eyes. But to see it, you have to brave the storm.

 Eva Marie Everson is the author of a number of works such as Oasis, her recently released title from Baker/Revel. A seminary graduate, she speaks on a number of topics and can be reached by going to: www.EvaMarieEverson.com