Storm Warning

I’m sore today. My ankle has a strange ache. The wrist that I injured years ago feels bruised. This can only mean one thing.
A storm is brewing.
If the forecast for Wednesday afternoon pans out, March will come in like a lion. We may not have to listen hard for its roar.
When I was a child, this would have been unwelcome news. I was both fascinated and terrified of severe weather. Few things disturbed me more than the all-too-familiar sound that would accompany tornado warnings on the radio or TV. Growing up in an area that received a handful of tornado threats a year, I knew that there was genuine cause for concern. The thickening, swirling black clouds felt inescapable as they moved overhead. The torrential rain deepened my distress as it blocked my ability to see where the threat might come from. And the lightning and the thunder chased me from the window and to the safest part of our house.
Over the years I’ve discovered that storms come in many shapes and sizes. Storms are not confined to any one particular season, and they can hit without the warnings we’ve come to expect from the National Weather Service. The storms we experience in life are just as powerful as the thunderstorms we experienced as a child, with one exception. The storms in our lives tend to be far more dangerous.
Here’s Jesus’s take on storms: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
You’ll notice that Jesus never suggests that there’s a chance that the rain might not come. As we might find ourselves saying, “It’s not if it will storm, but when it will storm.” In our lives, rain, wind and floods are inevitable.
I spend a lot of energy trying to prevent storms. I don’t like the feeling of helplessness in a storm. I certainly want to avoid the damage that comes from storms, so I’ll do most everything I can to avoid one. In order to sidestep the disruptions and difficulties a storm presents, I’ll do everything I can do to shield myself. But perhaps my energy is misplaced.
Jesus knows that storms are a part of life. If memory serves correct, Jesus survived his fair share. Jesus’s encouragement to us here is preventative, but not in the way we might think. God does not direct us to try and prevent storms. Instead, God encourages us to prepare in advance so that we can survive the storms.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”

It will not surprise you to learn that we often see an uptick in church attendance when people are trying to weather a storm. Church is a refuge, of course, and God’s presence is a sanctuary when we are in distress. This is most-certainly a good thing.
And yet, I’ve also discovered that once the storm passes these individuals stop attending church or seeking God’s presence like they did during the heart of their distress. While not shocking, this makes me sad. For I absolutely believe that the best way to prepare for a storm is to nurture a strong bond to the One who can best protect us from it when it hits.  
By trusting God and obeying his commandments, we situate ourselves well to weather the storms that we will inevitably experience in life. The best thing that we can do for ourselves and for our loved ones is to nurture our relationship with God by taking his words seriously and putting them into action today.
Storms will come. But hear the Good News of the Gospel! Jesus is the One who gives us the strength and the grace to survive them.