My two-year-old babbled giddily about the “lightning, Mommy! One, two, three, LIGHTNING!” Relentless streaks of white light made brilliant scabs in an ominously thick sky. The streaks would not stop cutting, and rain seemed to pour out of the sky’s wounds, first at a slow trickle, then a steady stream, and now, a violent deluge that overwhelmed my windshield wipers and drowned my tires.
I hate driving in storms.
Unable to do anything but drive with the keen awareness of my own mortality, I feel vulnerable. Inadequate to protect my firstborn and unborn children. I get so angry, I want to shout.
How’d I get here? How do I get out of here?
I feel out of control.
And then, there it is, clear as my speedometer: the truth. I’m not. I’m not in control.
“Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?*
Storms will come. I cannot summon or dismiss them. Of course, this hasn’t stopped me from lifting my voice to the clouds: when my grandmother suddenly died; when my heart was crushed by love that didn’t last; when we struggled to conceive; when loyal friends turned out to be neither. I’ve even raised my voice to the clouds when I wanted a green light or a parking spot.
When life isn’t lining up the way I think it should, my first impulse is to raise my voice to the clouds as if I’m the authority. After all, storm-tamers are lauded and rewarded and reinforced. Every averted crisis--the baby lulled back to sleep, the deadline successfully met despite setbacks, the spouse or friend sincerely cheered by our words and deeds--provides false confirmation that we, indeed, are meant to calm the storm.
Also, I can be prideful, plain and simple. I forget who I am in the sunshine times. I am beloved of God, yes, but also fallen, sinful, finite. The storms humble me and bring me back to reality: I need serious help.
I would have been the first person banging down Jesus’ cabin door if I were in the same boat with the disciples in Matthew 8:23-27. My paraphrase: “Jesus! How can you be sleeping right now?! We gon’ die! We gon’ DIE! GET UP!”
During the storm, the disciples could have raised their voice to the clouds, which would have proved futile, or pretended the storm wasn’t there as their boat filled with water, which would have been cray-cray. They could have gotten some buckets and tried to dump the storm into the water through sheer will--a practical approach, to be sure.
But these men had just seen Jesus heal a centurion’s paralyzed servant with a word. A servant who did not even have the power to run to Jesus himself, but still received Jesus’ mercy in the midst of his stormy circumstances.
The disciples could and did run to Jesus, the one who can heal with a word, with a profoundly simple and desperate request: “Lord save us.” He gently rebukes their “little” faith--but then He gets up. He stills the storm. He does not return their little faith with disdain.
The storms will come. We cannot summon or dismiss them, and we will not remain dry in this fallen world. We can shake our fists at our circumstances or try to change them ourselves, but Jesus encourages us to ask Him for help. He is the Storm Tamer. He doesn’t ask that we come to Him with the polished and sophisticated faith of the fearless. He just wants us to cry out.
“Lord, save us,” was the panicked cry of my heart as we wound our way down flooded, obscure country roads. (He did save us!)
“Lord, save us,” we cry while navigating the perilous and unknown storms of life. Jesus raises his voice to the clouds, dispels them. Or He enables us to just...keep...driving.
*Job 38:34-35, NIV
Sharifa Stevens, a Bronx native living in Dallas, TX, earned a BA from Columbia University in New York and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary. She freelances, sings, and prefers to spend her time giggling, noshing or traveling. Sharifa is married to Jonathan. They have one son and another on the way.