Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Job 38:1-3 (NIV)
Storms have featured regularly in my life. I first understood the power of a storm when I saw the remains of a substantial granite sea wall after a winter storm in the island where I grew up. As a child of the beach the ability of a storm to destroy a solidly built wall with such ease encouraged fascination more than fear. Because I had no fear there were times when I got soaked by climbing down the rocks too close to the storm waves while my friends stayed higher up where they believed they were safe. As I grew older I noticed that the shape of the beach changed during storms. The storms sometimes removed sand, but on other occasions threw sand onto the beach, hiding some of the rocks and even covering a concrete platform at the base of the sea wall.
While serving in the Merchant Navy I was reminded again on many occasions of the power of the storm. Being thrown around in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is a little different to approaching the waves from the shore. There were ocean crossings that featured barely a ripple, even during winter. But there were times when we had to battle our way through fierce storms, and occasions when we had to heave to and ride out a storm. I soon discovered that crossing a flat mirror-like sea can be mind-bendingly boring, and I began to enjoy the occasional storm, even though it was often hard to balance, and near impossible to sleep on a ship that is violently pitching and rolling.
Storms are important. Regardless of whether we like them they catch our attention. Sometimes they bring us to a place where we can be changed, perhaps into what we were meant to be. In 1979 I arrived in the island of Dominica after riding out a hurricane at sea. While the ship had survived the storm the town of Roseau had not. The damage seemed incredible. Yet, on my next visit one month later the town was already being rebuilt. Storms come. There are times that they cannot be avoided, there are times when they cause untold damage, and there are times when we wonder how we will ever recover. Sometimes God chooses to speak through a storm, rather than in a quiet whisper. Sometimes God uses storms to build us and change us into what He wants us to be. Sometimes a storm is a reminder that God is there, and that He is Lord of the storm.