Koko, our four year old German short-haired pointer mix, found her way up to my room last night looking apprehensive and immediately made her way into the far recesses of my closet. I immediately turned and looked out the window and sure enough, I saw the sky beginning to darken with an impending storm. And what a storm it turned out to be. Winds whipped in excess of 60mph tearing at the the trees with ferocity. The skies opened up and rain pummeled down. Thunder rumbled out, low and sonorous, shaking the surroundings with its deep tones. Lightning lit up the skies providing a light show unlike anything else, with entire night sky illuminated every few seconds as electricity pulsed through the heavens. From out on our back porch you could see one corner of the sky shining with a beautiful orange light beaming through the clouds resisting the storms encompassing swath. Slowly another corner lighted as well making a strip of sky on the horizon untouched by the blackness of the clouds. The storm would not be denied though and the wind whipped up again and clouds billowed up filling in the spaces with their darkness. Twice we lost power at our house, though both times it was restored fairly rapidly. As I watched that storm from my porch I was struck by the fact that all I could do was watch. There was nothing else that could serve any purpose or appropriate response to the storm’s fury. Powerless, I simply stood awestruck by the magnificent display in the heavens.
That feeling of insignificance and powerlessness is one of the main reasons storms attract me so much. That in itself is exceedingly odd, because in any other circumstance I hate feeling either powerless or insignificant. I desperately want to have some measure of control throughout my life and one of the deepest desires of my heart is to matter in some way. Miraculously in the midst of a storm like last night’s those desires are superseded by the staggering wonder. Somehow as the rain pours down around me, lightning strikes, and thunder crashes, I am now glad that I have no control, joyful that my own life is shrunk down to size relative to the maelstrom that surrounds me. Those things that represent some of my hearts deepest longings, control and significance, disappear and I can only be amazed by creation and a creator who sustains it all.
Storm’s pull aside the curtain on my quest for significance and control, revealing a hunt for the rainbows pot of gold. I’ve been searching for these as though they were my right but in reality they were never mine to have. The storm shows me that my desires are not correctly aligned. I have desires for these things that I neither need nor can ever have. My desires aren’t big enough, not strong enough. As C.S. Lewis says “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us.” In the storm it is the acknowledgement of my own helplessness that accentuates the storm’s majesty. In life we must relinquish the illusion of control to grasp the fullness of joy, that Christ came to give us. We must stop desiring significance and learn to simply worship and adore what is significant. Once we have done that, in one of the great paradoxes of our existence our life will become significant and we will find a measure of control. It will become significant not because we have done anything significant but because God’s love makes us of infinite importance. We will not have control because all of sudden we have gifts, talents, and powers that allow us to dictate situations, but because with access to God’s power and an alignment with his purpose we will dwell within his plan that is purposeful and sure.
So my prayer is that storms remind me how to live. That they remind me what to long for, what is important, and what is true. I pray that I will find the awe in life around me to be willing to revel in giving up control and embracing insignificance. I pray that storms will lead me into worship.