Colleen Niska is a photographer based in Saskatchewan, Canada. She photographed a wedding last Saturday, depicting the bride and groom holding hands while walking along a country road. What the couple could not see was a tornado touching down behind them. The storm was not Photoshopped—a Canadian news station confirms that two tornadoes touched down in the area where the wedding was held. The couple said the wind blew a tent over, but otherwise their reception was a success.
To me, this story is a parable for our times. Just because we don't see a tornado behind us doesn't mean it's not there. But we can choose to go forward by faith, knowing that our Father sees our storms and walks on our waves.
I have just returned from a week spent in England, teaching a group of doctoral students from Dallas Baptist University at the University of Oxford. We worshiped in cathedrals that were built eight centuries ago. We stood at Martyrs Square, where Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer were burned at the stake for their Protestant convictions. We worshiped at Carey Baptist Church in Moulton, where William Carey launched the modern missions movement in 1792. Our group sang "Amazing Grace" in the church where John Newton was pastor.
Today the England of church history is no more. I spoke with numerous people on the streets and in trains and cabs—none saw any future for the church. Only 37 percent of the British people even believe God exists. At least 10,000 churches in England have closed over the last 50 years; another 4,000 are set to be closed by 2020. At the same time, the Muslim population in England will double over the next eight years. Booming businesses have sprung up to help Muslims convert cathedrals to mosques.
Does this looming spiritual tornado mean that God's Kingdom is being defeated in the United Kingdom? Not at all. Our group heard about ministries that have begun recently in post-Christian England. Coffee houses and art galleries are reaching people who would never step into a cathedral. Christians are moving to London and other British cities to build relationships with neighbors who would never speak to a minister. Jesus' followers are learning to enjoy the post-Christian people they are called to love and serve. They are introducing Jesus into the cultural conversation of the day, and our Lord is drawing people to himself.
What is your tornado today? Receive this word from God: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you will not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Now choose to exalt Jesus today as a catalyst for spiritual awakening. Tell someone what he has done to calm your storms. Look for opportunities to make him central to your conversations. Make your day about Jesus, and you will reflect the "light of the world" (John 8:12) wherever you go.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: "Your life can create hunger and thirst for God in others' lives and can be a powerful instrument in the hand of the Holy Spirit to draw their hearts to Christ." Do you agree?
Publication date: July 9, 2014