Shelter in the Storm
Originally Published 04/18/2011
In my small group last week, a beautifully wise lady reminded us that we can’t always see God at work. He saves us in so many hidden ways, doing things we may never appreciate until we look through our life with a heavenly view. It’s like the times we were running late and a car accident happened right where we would have been had we been on time. It’s an invisible hand of grace.
Certainly sometimes God protects us even when we do not know we are in danger. So it was for many of us in my small town this week. The day after a tornado hit, a friend posted on her blog, “What tornado?” Her power had gone out and she hadn’t even known the cause until a friend called to see if she was safe.
It was the same for us. A split-second loss of power was our only impact from a whirlwind that wreaked havoc on homes, churches and a school just a few miles away. Others we knew had been watching constant broadcasts on the local news channel and still others huddled under doorways and in bathrooms with laptops and cell phones, trying to stay safe and informed. We, on the other hand, went about our Saturday night business, eating dinner, giving the girls baths, reading, relaxing and preparing for church the next day. We were oblivious to even the possibility of a storm, and so we didn’t even know at first that God was keeping us safe.
So often, we miss seeing how God is at work in our lives because we aren’t bothering to look. The storm demanded our attention, though. Suddenly, we heard story after story of protection and deliverance. A car that usually is parked where a tree crashed down, but for some reason people decided at the last minute to drive the car instead of the truck. A former home totally destroyed down to its foundation. Trees crashing through the roofs of houses in just the right spot, narrowly missing the people sitting just a few feet away—unharmed and untouched. A school destroyed on a Saturday night, thankfully empty of the students and teachers there five other days of the week. Churches similarly empty of people when their roofs were peeled off by the wind, empty because the storm didn’t happen on a Sunday.
We tell the stories and shake our heads as we are astonished by grace and overwhelmed by mercy.
We notice His grace and mercy because of the storm, but God is at work in our lives every day and we’re just generally too busy to stop and see. In her book One in a Million, Prisiclla Shirer reminds us to “practice watchfulness” and to take deliberate pauses in the midst of our daily and our everyday so that we can look for God’s activity. If we want to see God, really and truly see Him at work, we need to be on the look-out for what He is doing in the quiet and mundane days just as much as in the storm.
God called the Israelites to this stance of watchfulness in Exodus 14:13 in the midst of a storm of their own. The Hebrews were terrified of the Egyptian chariots barreling through the wilderness in their direction while the Israelites stood trapped–Pharaoh’s army on one side, Red Sea on the other. “Moses spoke to the people: ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again'” (Exodus 14:13, MSG). The people were told to watch, just watch. Be on the lookout for what God is going to do. Keep your eyes open to how He’s going to save you. Don’t turn your head or avert your gaze or you’ll miss out on a God-sighting and the chance to see Him at work.
So, I wonder—how can I be watchful for God’s activity not just when I’m trapped at the Red Sea or in the middle of a storm and crying out to God for help? In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp determines not to miss out on God in the smallest pieces of her busy days. She takes on a challenge, to list one thousand things she’s thankful for. Without paragraphs of description or pages of explanation, she simply writes one-line prayers of gratitude to God. It changes her life. Her whole way of viewing the world is now new, passed through a filter that specifically seeks out the invisible hand of God, now made visible simply because she took the time to see it.
A friend and I read this book together. I gulped it down, reading it in two days. Most of the time, I found I was holding my breath as I read because I was so focused on the challenge to my heart too often cluttered with whining and complaining. And then at the end, my friend and I decided we would make a list. We would go to one thousand, too.
My list sits beside me now. On it, I have written “shelter in the storm even when we didn’t know we needed it.” It’s thankfulness in the big things of life, in the the evident deliverance—like Israel crossing the Red Sea to safety while the Egyptian army drowned in the waves.
Also on my list, though:
- Hugs from a baby in footy pajamas.
- Fresh journals with clean, unwritten pages.
- Homemade bread with butter all melted on top.
- Mornings with nowhere to rush off to.
Some days I forget to deliberately pause and be watchful for God. My list remains untouched on my table or in my bag from morning to night, but I am trying and learning to stop moving for just a brief moment a few times a day and look around, really look. Because God isn’t just present in the storms—that’s only where we most often search for Him and that’s when His activity is most noticeable. But He’s also in the mundane and everyday moments in my life and I will see Him there if I only take the time to quiet my heart and open my eyes in watchful anticipation.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King