A few years ago, about a second before the kids were going back to school, my enneagram 7 husband says, “We should take a family trip. To South Dakota.” I looked at him blankly. Because… planning. In order to make it work we would need to leave in about a minute. OK, I exaggerate… 5 days. It’s always just when I think “this would be impossible to pull together,” that he in fact, pulls it together — and it ended up being amazing. Round of applause to the husband.
I shamelessly declare that THIS is the way to camp. Even the restrooms and showers were out of this world — you guys, they smelled like fresh cedar wood. Like a sauna. MY bathrooms felt dingy compared to this… if you too qualify an experience by what kind of bathroom you will have access to, you get me on this massive win.
Back to glamping…
There was one night when a storm hit. A big one. I don’t care how fancy your white canvas tent is… it is a tent. As the winds picked up, the canvases starting blowing and pounding against the poles, every noise felt exaggerated — from the rain dumping on our roof to the trees bending and swaying as they were pushed and pulled by the torrent of weather and slamming against our walls. Brandon and I finally looked at each other like, “at what point to we cut ship and bail for the car?” One of my boys woke up after a clap of thunder, and when he sat up and looked at me, I reached over, patted his arm and said, “It’s OK, it’s just a storm. I’m right here.” And he immediately snuggled back into his cozy cot and went back to sleep. Immediately. Because he trusted me more than he was concerned about the storm.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. — Psalm 34:4
What Was and What Could Have Been
My son woke up the next morning fresh and rested and ready for our breakfast and hike. He could have stayed up and sat next to me. He could have let fear creep in and steal the rest that my authority over the situation offered. He could have silently come up with his own exit strategy had he not been sure I had one. He could have anticipated the way the wild weather would impact our plans for the next day, and grieved things he only predicted he would lose. None of his reactions would have changed anything except the strength and readiness he had for whatever came the next day.
Friends, we have storms. And we get to choose how to respond to them. Storms come in many forms and in varying strength, but when we lock eyes with our Lord, and listen to his voice, I believe it changes our experience of threats. We really can rest when he says rest, and sleep when he says sleep, because his presence provides peace.
Storms may threaten our comfort, they may induce tears and aches. Storms might challenge and tear at us mercilessly… but God promises his nearness, he promises forever, and the gifts he pours out on us to manage storms as we endure them are a certainty and not a maybe. There are things wild winds and waves have no authority over, and with that knowledge in mind, I want to respond to my Lord, just the way my Roman responded to me. Because his presence changes everything.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10