Take that Irene!
By :Allen Ancheril
There are storms. There are tornadoes. There are blizzards and there are earthquakes. Then there are also doubt-quakes and doubt storms. Every now and then, a doubt storm has rolled into my life, bringing a torrential downpour of questions and aftershocks of instability and chaos. Every so often, a burst of peace and calm will shine through.
The past few weeks I’ve been watching the news every night, to keep up to date with what’s going on in the world. Some nights I have wondered why I watch it, because typically my mind is overloaded with gloom as a result. From the steps of the Supreme Court to the shores of Africa, the news is very depressing. The news anchorman/woman is typically a very attractive and well-dressed individual. They call this person the “Anchorman”.
Fitting title…one needs an anchor in today’s tempests.
I’ve’ lay in bed many nights, and wondered…How can our world get this crazy?
Sometimes the storm comes up when I am at work. I listen to the stories of people in homes that won’t heal, and cold hearts that won’t thaw out…As a representative of a Christian institution and believer in an Unseen God; I do my best to convince a complete stranger that this Unseen God still hears….
And sometime I still wonder why so many hearts have to hurt…
The questions I have to ask is…do you ever face this storm of doubt…like I have? Some of you don’t. I have talked to you. You have this “David-like” optimism…that can defy ANY Goliath. I used to believe you were naïve at best and phony at worst…
I don’t think that way anymore.
I think you are gifted. You are gifted with faith. You see the rainbow before the cloud parts…If you have this gift, then skip the rest of this paragraph…I won’t say anything you need to hear
Others of you wonder what the latter group knows that you don’t. You wonder if you yourself are blind or if they are. You wonder why some proclaim “Eureka” before the gold is found, or shout “Land-ho” before the fog has cleared. You have wondered how some people believe so confidently, while you believe so reluctantly. As a result, you are bit uncomfortable on the padded pew of blind belief. Your bible hero is Thomas; your middle name is Caution. Your queries are the bane of every Sunday school teacher.
“If God is so good, why do I feel bad sometimes?”
“If His message is so clear, why does confusion set in?”
“If the Father is in control, why do well-intentioned people have gut-wrenching problems?”
I have wondered if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never can truly rest… However I would rather be cynical than hypocritical…I’ve found myself praying with one eye open sometimes. About;
-Hunger stricken people in Africa
-The real power of prayer
-The depths of grace
-Christians with cancer
- The times where I gauge my worth in the sight of God, and who am I to ask such questions anyway?
These are tough questions. They are the “throw-in the towel” type questions. I am pretty sure the disciples asked them to Christ, especially in the tumultuous occasions. such as the storm on the Sea of Galilee. All they could see were black skies as they bounced in the battered boat. Swirling clouds and wind driven -white tipped waves. Pessimism that buried the coast line. Gloom that swamped the bow. What was intended to be a pleasant trip became a white knuckled ride through a sea of fear.
I’m pretty sure they were asking: What hope do we have of surviving such a stormy night?
My question: Where is God, when this world is stormy?
I am typing my thoughts as the news is flooded with the coverage of Hurricane Irene. The skies on the horizon are dark and foreboding, I sit looking out my bedroom window, with the wind slowly picking up speed and force, and the few glimpses of sunlight fade behind the clouds. These are turbulent days in the minds of everyone,
the enemy seems too big, the task seems too great, the future too bleak and the answers way too few.
I find it fitting that as I write this, we had just experience an earthquake 2 days prior. Never have I felt my world shake in such a manner. Even in a figurative sense
My childhood fantasy of a perfect life is breaking and imploding like a dream from the movie “Inception.” The days where I wonder how will I pay my debts, will my family survive various dramatic and unnecessary ordeals… begs the question “God where are you, when my world is getting dark?”
As I sit here in my window, the dark clouds slowly creep closer and closer. I was asking “God, just a lil light….please????”
A little more light in my family ordeals, a little more light in my heart, a little more light in my financial, physical and social problems.
This light came for the disciples. A figure came to them by walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. They thought it was a Phantom, a wraith…a Ghost coming to get them…the ultimatum to their current predicament.
They were more than likely expecting Angels to descend from heaven in a Beam of Light…or for the sky to suddenly split open. I don’t exactly know what they were expecting, but it wasn’t Jesus walking to them on top of rough water.
“It’s a Ghost, they cried.” (Matt 14:26)
Since Jesus came to them in a way they didn’t expect, they almost missed the answer to their prayers. Unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God shines in the darkness, like the stars illuminate the vastness of Space; we just have to be looking in the right direction.
I found myself looking in the right direction, and seeing these “lights” in the darkness.
Light number one was definitely unexpected.
I was at the post office one day before work, attempting to pick up a package. The package wasn’t delivered to my home due to an insufficient amount of postage, and a poor packaging job by the vendor. I was at the front counter, discussing the cost with the patron, almost ready to pay my debt with a debit card. I handed my card to the gentlemen, but then he refused my card claiming the card system to be down. My jaw dropped with frustration. I didn’t have time to return later, nor did I have cash to pay. I had 10 minutes to get to work, which was a 20 minute drive.
Suddenly the gentlemen behind me, a complete stranger, walked up and handed the patron, cash in the amount that I had needed to pay. I was shocked. The guy just smiled and said “God bless you son, now get to your job on time this morning.” Talk about entertaining Angels.
I still manage to have a 3 finger grasp on my faith in humanity
Light number two came from a nursing home:
I used to volunteer at this nursing home back in High-school. I can’t recall the name of the guy I was talking to, but I can remember his face very vividly. His wife was a dementia patient, and a resident of the home. For the sake of this story, I’ll call him John.
“We just celebrated 40 years last week.” He said this as he fed his wife. She sat there, with sunken eyes, a faded expression, and almost a vegetative composure. She stared blankly into space, as he fed her and only opened her mouth when John drew the fork near to feed her.
I remember his vivid words as he mentioned that his wife had been sick for 5 years. “She can’t walk, take care of herself or even feed herself, but I love her…”
In a society plagued by narcissism, it was very re-assuring to find a man who would serve his wife, and expect nothing in return. In recalling that moment God once again offered a sinew of light, which was beaming through the clouds.
Light number three came from a world I thoroughly despise..the world of celebrities…
Never do I hold celebrities in high esteem, but I can make one exception.
Larry Brown is the coach of the San Antonio Spurs.
(I don’t know him personally but rumor has it he wants to sign me a mult-year contract and play point guard for the …….fantasy league… It’s ok to dream isn’t it? ;)
Story has is that Coach Brown once spent an afternoon at a sporting goods store signing autographs. He was scheduled to spend 2 hours there, but ended up doing 3. Numerous amounts of people were thronging to see him, wanting to shake his hand and ask him questions.
As the meet and greet session ended, Coach Brown headed out to his car, and sat inside. As he prepared to depart, a touching sight gained his attention. A young boy rode up to the store window on his bicycle. He peered inside, and realizing that he was late, slowly turned away disheartened. Coach Brown turned off his ignition, walked out and greeted the boy. They chatted for a few minutes and walked over to a nearby Dairy Queen and ordered some ice cream….No reporters were near, nor were there any cameras present.
I’m sure Larry Brown had other things to do that evening, such as keeping other appointments. But it’s doubtful that anything he might have done that afternoon was more important than what he did. In a world of over-paid professional sports, I was glad to hear one coach was still ….a coach at heart. Hearing what he did was good enough to blow away any lingering clouds of doubt and warm me with God’s light…His gentle light.
Gentle lights. ..God’s solution for the storms of doubt…golden radiance that blows away the darkness. Not thunderbolts… or explosions of light… Just gentle light. A stranger having compassion, a husband selflessly caring for his wife. A celebrity with a heart.
All visible evidence of an invisible hand.
Soft reminders that optimism is not just for fools. Ironically, none of these situations were “religious”. They didn’t occur in a church setting. Nothing will be in tomorrow’s headlines either…But such humility is the very essence of God’s heart.
When the disciples saw Jesus in the middle of their storm, they called him a ghost, an apparition…a bad omen. To them, the glow was anything but God. When we see gentle lights on the horizon, we often have the same reaction. We dismiss occasional kindness as “apparitions, accidents or anomalies.” Anything but the hand of God.
“When Jesus comes,” the disciples in the boat may have thought, “he’ll split the sky. The sea will be calm. The clouds will disperse.”
“When God comes, “we doubters think,” all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain.”
Because we look for the spotlight, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. But it is in the burnished candles that God comes, and through whispered promises He speaks: “When you doubt, look around; I am closer than you think,”
We can be certain that God will give us the strength and resources we need to live through any situation in life that he ordains. The will of God will never take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.