Watching the weather before we went to bed last night, I asked my husband if he was sure he’d wake up if the tornado sirens went off, because....well.....he’s usually the one who sleeps through kids calling and me getting up to answer such in the night, and I tend to be the lighter sleeper, and I worry about things like not waking up when the sirens blare. Around midnight, I woke up to my husband shaking my arm saying, “C’mon. Sirens are going.” We went downstairs, checked the weather which said a fast-moving storm was on its way, grabbed sleeping bags and clothes and got the upstairs kids down to the basement by the time the storm came through town. I also mentally made notes about what I need to do to prepare ahead of time for next time, but that’s another story. Kids went right back to sleep, middle son never properly woke up, if you want my take on it, because when I woke him up this morning for school, he looked around and said something like, “Why am I down here?” It was kind of funny. Even funnier was oldest son, whose room is already downstairs so we never even woke him up last night, when he woke up and saw his sister asleep in the floor outside his room and all our sleeping bags around, from where I was in the kitchen I heard his confused, “Why is everyone down here?”
I have to confess to you that tornadoes are scary to me. I grew up in Florida where tornadoes are fairly rare. Hurricanes, I’m a little more used to, but you also tend to get more warning and can evacuate if need be. I’m really thankful we were spared anything major last night and the sirens were all bluster and no tornado. I’m thankful we can hear the sirens from our house. I’m also thankful we have a basement safe place now, too. When we lived in Indiana a few years ago, it was the first time I’d ever lived in a place where tornadoes were a danger, but I’d seen The Wizard of Oz enough times to be nervous. My husband was on an all-expense-paid, year-long visit to Bosnia at the Army’s express invitation, our house was far enough from the sirens I couldn’t hear them when they sounded, and we did not have a basement. I spent quite a few sleepless nights that spring trying very hard not to be anxious as I watched the news (they were super-duper proud of their ‘double doppler’ weather radar and seemed to really relish their time in the spotlight when it got stormy, by the way) and once was concerned enough to bundle two small boys and a dog into the hallway for a campout with all the bedroom doors closed and where I still felt much too exposed. When we learned we were moving back to the Midwest a couple of years ago, I told my husband the only real request I had regarding living quarters was a basement.
It’s in the midst of a raging thunderstorm that I feel very small and when it hits home how much we are not in control of....anything, really. My friend Lisa wrote a beautiful post thinking about God’s sovereignty in the midst of her own experience with tornadoes, and she’s right that it is in the midst of such things that pondering God’s sovereignty moves from academic to personal and real.
It is also during storms that I often think about this passage:
“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’”
I think, having grown up in church and being so very familiar with this account, it’s often easy for me to breeze over it and miss the significance of the fact that Jesus calmed the storm. What I mean is, I’ve read it so often that many times I just read it. I don’t think about it or pause and ponder why the disciples had the reaction they did. I know they had that reaction, I know He calmed the storm, but I don’t always stop and think about how significant that truly is. I think sometimes we can get very comfortable with Jesus, and I’m not sure if I’m adequately expressing what I want so much to say here. It kind of goes back to the shallow, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend kind of songs we sing too often, it goes back to living like functional atheists, even, when we go along muddling along until we need something or until some crisis strikes and then we start praying because we need/want something. But somehow, we all too often miss the awe of who Jesus truly is. We forget in the midst of today that it is in Christ that all things hold together. We forget that He is sovereign and Lord over all, and worthy of all praise, today and every day, in the storm and in the calms.
Hunkering down in the basement, listening to raging and violent wind and hearing thunder booming all around and aware that if a tornado does touch down there is nothing, absolutely nothing I can do to stop it and feeling very small and helpless, I get a glimpse, and only a glimpse, of the awe the disciples felt that day. They went from being afraid of a storm, to fearing the One who was in the boat with them. Jesus, with a word, stopped the wind and the waves. Because He is the Word. He is the Creator, He is the only Savior and Redeemer, and it is good and wise to pause and ponder how awesome He truly is.
And if it takes tornado sirens going off in the middle of the night to get my attention and help me to remember once again and stop to ponder on just Who He is and how very much I can, and must, trust Him, so be it.