Peace in the Storm
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul”
-Horatio G. Spafford
Your heart is filled with excited anticipation as your eyes awaken to the dawning light. You’ve planned a sailing trip this weekend and the weather looks perfect. It’s beautifully sunny and the wind has picked up enough to make it great for coasting into the open lake. You pack your meals, make your coffee, and head out to the marina. You follow through with your routine safety checks and motor your way down the channel where you can open the sails and let the wind take you away.
You managed to get half way out on the lake. Your cell phone is now out of range and you’re officially ‘unplugged’. You think to yourself, ‘now this is peaceful’. The world and all its responsibilities are back on land. It’s just you, your boat, nature, and God out here.
Life’s been a little weighty lately. It’s been tough trying to get used to the busy rhythms of life after being through one lock down after another. There are so many things that you’re unsure of and quite frankly, you’re tired of trying to figure it all out. But today you don’t have to. You’ve found peace in stepping away from it all. Even though you notice your mind drifting towards the thoughts of everything back home, it’s refreshing in the sense that you have time to think and you don’t have to actually deal with anything at the moment.
You sip on your coffee and let the sun caress your body. You’re surprised to find that the lake is fairly quiet today, yet you’re grateful to mostly have it to yourself. This is exactly what you wanted. Some time set aside for just you.
The wind begins to pick up a fair amount about a couple of hours out on the lake. It’s odd because the weather called for 15-20 km/hr winds and sunny all day. You see clouds off to the east heading in your direction. The wind is now measuring at 40 km/hr. You think about heading back to the marina but then dismiss the thought in hopes of just wanting to enjoy a day on the lake.
Within ten minutes, the storm has rolled in and land is out of sight. You desperately try to reroute the boat using the compass as your only guide. The rain is pelting down hard and the waves and wind are almost more than one man can bear. You start to grow weary after minutes of fighting hard with the sails. The cell phone is completely out of reach so you try to radio in for help. The wind is blowing so hard that you can’t tell whether anyone heard you or not. You radio for help two more times and then go back to trying to keep your ship upright.
Your stomach grows queasy and suddenly all the worries of life back on land seems manageable compared to this life-threatening storm you find yourself in. You’re at a loss with what to do next. You can’t tell how close to shore you are or whether help is on its way or not. That’s when you remember to look up – way up. You cry out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, save me! calm this storm!’
Though the storm doesn’t cease, you feel a warm calm rush over you. You remember your sailing training and start going through the motions of securing the ship the way you were taught. The Lord reminds you of the passage you read just that morning in your devotions,
“Don’t fear sudden danger
or the ruin of the wicked when it comes,
for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from a snare.”
This passage lights up in your mind and you cling to His promise to keep you. You have to because you’re completely dependent on Him alone. You feel strength building inside you to endure this storm a little longer. You believe that the Lord will get you back to land at some point and in the meantime, you know that He’s big enough to handle the storm, just like He did with His disciples.
After an hour passes by, the storm begins to ease off. The wind dies down and the thunder and lighting have stopped. Now it’s a steady soft rain falling. You look to your left and see that the land is only five kilometers away. The Lord had safely carried you back 30 kilometers from where you had been. He brought you close enough that the cliffs shelter the worst of the winds. Your safe and almost home.
Now that the water is shallower and the winds calmer, you anchor the boat to give yourself a few moments to recover some energy. You lay on the deck and let the rain fall on your face. You think about what you just endured and what awaits you back home. It’s in that moment that you realize that whatever lies ahead of you, you know the Lord will be with you through it all. He saved you from this storm and He’ll save you in many others through life. He’ll teach you how to survive as long as you look to Him to guide and protect you.
Your peace didn’t come from your circumstances. It didn’t come from your sailing training. Your peace came from the Lord’s word and His Spirit’s work within you. The calm you felt was the Holy Spirit giving you exactly what you needed through the chaos of the storm so that you could know what to do and make it through. It came from the assurance of God’s word that you hid in your heart that morning.
You take some time to thank the Lord for showing up and giving you His peace when you needed it most. You ask Him to help you remember that lesson and apply it to the other areas of your life as you plan to go home.
You get up, raise the anchor, and dock the boat back at the marina. You step back onto the land trying to recover your wobbly sea legs. Everyone looks at you with wide-eyed surprise that you survived the storm. They start clapping, but you raise your hand to reject the applause. In that moment, you’re able to testify that the Lord told you what to do in order to make it back alive. Some people appreciate it and others seem confused, but it doesn’t matter. Deep down you know what it means and you can’t help but give God the glory.
You’re sure that there’ll be other storms that come in life in many different forms. But you know that you’ll be able to weather them a little better each time because your trust and peace in the Lord will grow as you learn to look to Him through each one.
““Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27
It can be very difficult to find peace in the chaos and calamities of life. If you’re in a busy and loud season or a quiet and somber one, peace often seems to be the first thing that goes missing. How can you find peace “when sea billows roll”?
By anchoring yourself to Jesus.
By casting your anchor onto the Solid Rock, there’s a deep inner peace that assures you that you will overcome. What is the anchor? It’s the Bible. The “alive and active” living Word of God. By saturating your soul with it each day, Holy Spirit can grow His peace within you. Then when life is busy or stormy, your heart will find rest in the Almighty God.