Water is powerful, especially when it comes in the form of a storm.
Lightning. Thunder. Wind. Is it just me, or does it seem that the worst storms come at night? Those tornado warnings or threats of wind damage rear their heads when we can’t see what’s coming. Adding to the anxieties of the darkness, if the power cuts out and there is little access to news broadcasts, we have a decision to make. Do we take cover, flee or just shrug our shoulders and go back to bed.
Lightning…thunder…wind…darkness…these are things that are out of our control.
Sometimes things come along in our lives that create fear and a feeling of helplessness. Maybe it’s an illness. An unexpected loss of a loved one. A job loss. A financial need that you have no idea how to take care of. A sick child. An adult child who is going through their own struggles. A relationship that’s on the rocks. etc. etc. etc.
There is a story in the Bible about a storm that raged for weeks. A man named Paul was on board a ship in that storm and the story of that experience is told in the book of Acts, Chapter 27.
While these men are out to sea, they begin to be slowed down by some winds that have set in. The sailing had already become dangerous and then a northeaster wind came and swooped down on them. They had to give way to it. The ship was out of their control and they were forced to go wherever these winds pushed them.
After two days of hanging on for dear life, they threw ropes into the sea and wrapped them around the ship to try and hold it together. They threw cargo overboard to lighten their load.
On the third day, they threw their tackle over, giving up their ability to fish. They saw no sun or stars for days in that storm. For. Days.
After fourteen nights had passed, they were still weathering this storm. They were exhausted. They had lost hope. The scriptures say that they were in such a state of “constant suspense” that they had not eaten in all of those days.
Have you ever been so pushed around by your circumstances that you felt like you were in a state of constant suspense? Your muscles are tight. Your stomach is in a knot. You couldn’t eat if you tried. Headaches. Anxiety. All of this together with a feeling of helplessness. You’ve tried to hold it together the best you could , like these men stringing rope around their ship, you pull in tight whatever you can control.
But rope frays. It’s support can only be temporary.
What are we to do when the storms of life come? When they’re out of our control, and it’s dark, and we can’t see, and we’re scared and feeling helpless…what are we to do?
The men on that ship tried to hold things together the best that they could. At the same time, they let things go. Things that could hinder. Their cargo. Their grain. Towards the end of their journey, they even cut all four of their anchors loose!
There is freedom when we loosen our grip on our stuff. Sometimes God can’t take from us what may be holding us in our storm if we are holding on too tightly. He’s a gentleman, He won’t always pry our little fingers off of whatever we have in our hand. Our children, our finances, our marriages, our jobs, our health…Let’s take a deep breath and loosen our grip a little today. Let’s offer up whatever it is that has us in constant suspense and everything else that could be keeping us there.
What can you let go of when you’re in a storm? What could be weighing you down and causing you to suffer longer? An item you’ve gone in debt over that keeps your finances strained? A friend who feeds you negativity every time you talk? A job that you hate? Even something that’s usually meant for good, like those anchors…what might you need to cut temporarily to ease the voyage through your storm?
“…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Keep Up Your Strength
After two weeks of weathering the storm, Paul urged everyone on board to eat something. To build back their strength.
Women are especially bad at this. When we are busy trying to take care of everyone else around us, we often neglect our own health. Don’t do it. Keep up your strength. Eat healthy, maintain your exercise routine and continue to make time for yourself. You need the strength to weather the storm.
Once they ate, they tossed the remainder of the food overboard, cut the anchors, untied the ropes and drifted to land.
: to become driven or carried along (as by a current of water, wind, or air) <a balloon drifting in the wind>b
: to move or float smoothly and effortlessly
A land where they were welcomed with fire for warmth and food for nourishment. They were extended the hand of hospitality. There was rest. There was relief. The storm had ended.
Let’s hold together what we can and let go of what we can’t. Even if it doesn’t make sense in our mind, like those men cutting those anchors, let’s let go of anything holding us back from fully trusting what God’s word says.
Once the storm has passed, we will find rest and relief. I believe that same rest and relief can come in the midst of our storm too if we stay close to God.
Let’s hold tight to Him, let go of any dead weight, take care of ourselves.
He will be with us.
The waters will not take us over.
We will not be burned in the fire.
The flames will not set us ablaze.