Growing up as a daughter of missionaries in Colombia’s equatorial zones, I’ve always loved storms. Monsoon rain thundering on roof tiles loud enough to drown out sibling squabbles. Furious tossing of the jungle canopy like surging waves on some wild, green sea. That fresh, earthy scent of raindrops exploding against hot dirt. Mud-brown floodwaters lapping at the concrete edging of our elevated verandah.
The greatest fun came as the storm tapered off. Pulling on bathing suits (unlike the neighbor kids for whom clothing restraints were optional), my siblings and I joined our friends outdoors. Who needed swimming pools when the dirt street outside was now a river rapids ride? Mud was easily dealt with by standing under the rainspout, the downpour itself as tepid as Caribbean surf.
Though small and helpless against nature’s fury, I remember no fear, only joyous delight in a power far greater than myself. Somewhere up there in the thunder and lightning and rain, God was playing with His creation.
I realize now that my delight in the storms came from my own position of safety. My home was built like a fortress, the brick-and-concrete walls, metal roof, barred shutters and heavy doors that kept our expat family safe from thieves, riots, or guerrilla insurgents impervious to the worst tropical deluge.
Since those days, I’ve been exposed to storms less friendly. Traveling twenty-eight hours in a Canadian blizzard, the highway drifting shut at the heels of our carload of Bible college students. My first hurricane during a sojourn in Miami. This time I wasn’t living in a fortress. My husband and I hunkered down in the dark with our children (hurricane shutters were up and the power out), a 120-mile-per-hour wind tearing at our roof and slamming neighbors’ possessions against the walls. I was sure one more huff-and-puff would blow our house down.
And yet there was that delightful moment when the gale died down and we gathered courage to step outside into the storm. The rain was warm and no longer blowing straight sideways. The earthy freshness of a sudden gust across my face carried me back to those jungle monsoons. Despite broken palms, ripped-off roofs and blown-down fences, I felt safe--though I knew it wouldn’t last long.
The eye of the storm had settled over us.
Since those halcyon childhood downpours, I’ve learned more than I wished about storms. Foremost, that all storms aren’t acts of weather. I've now met political and economic storms, gale winds of war. Storms of loneliness and separation. Storms of personal failure and temptation. Of grief and pain and betrayal.
Worse, storms that shake not me, but those I love. An adult son with a new baby recently lost his job in the auto industry. The ministry of which my husband serves as president, BCM International, has 16,000 churches in India, including many in Orissa province where one year ago on Christmas Day, Hindu extremists launched an on-going assault against Christian churches and homes that has left hundreds dead, more than 50,000 displaced, and virtually every church building destroyed. A dear BCM co-worker, Pastor Dasarath Digal, was jailed for murder when one of the mob destroying his church fell to his death while tearing the cross from the roof. In renewed violence a few months ago, his twenty-four year old son was killed by a mob (Read More at Orissa Burning). Another co-worker's beautiful teenage daughter died of medical complications while fleeing the attacks. I can face my storms with equanimity, but I find my mind screaming and heart weeping at the injustice of theirs.
These days I find myself more often than ever before in storm-tossed corners of our planet. Guatemala. El Salvador. India. Sri Lanka. The Philippines. Afghanistan (keep an eye out for my new Afghanistan novel, Veiled Freedom, coming from Tyndale House Publishers June, 2009). Sometimes traveling with others, often alone. "Aren't you afraid of what could happen?" I'm often asked.
Have I learned to fear the storms?
Only when I lose sight of where and whose I am. I belong to the Almighty Creator of the Universe whose weather antics delighted me as a child, whom Scripture describes as riding on the wings of the wind, making storm clouds His footstool, thunder and lightning His playthings. He is King of Kings--and my heavenly Father who loves me passionately. And He loves and cares for those I love far beyond what I ever could. Whatever tempest shakes my world brings no cause for fear but joyous dancing. Why? Because at the eye of every storm is my heavenly Father's almighty hand, where I am lovingly and safely cradled.
Merry Christmas! I hope you will come back and visit this blog again. Drop me a line. Dance with me in the palm of our Creator's hand. Join me in the adventure of joyous living in the eye of life's storms. And in this Christmas season may you and yours know the immeasurable love that prompted the Creator of the Universe to take on humanity in the form of a baby born to a peasant refugee family in a dark and war-torn moment of history in order to draw His lost creation back to Himself.