It was 3:00 AM. At least that’s what I thought my sleep-filled eyes told me after they looked at the clock beside my bed. I wasn’t sure what had woken me. Then I heard screams coming from down the hall. Ugh, not another night of one kid waking up the other in an endless cycle that would last until morning. My wife was already out of bed taking care of them like the superhero she is. But I lay there brooding in my own frustration anyway.
Then, a loud, window-rattling crack of thunder followed by another round of screams told me this wasn’t one of those nights. A split second later, the power flickered out, and the whole house was dark.
The power was only out for a moment, but that was enough to scare the boys even more. My frustration was slowly beginning to subside, and I decided to call Noah into our room so he could lay down next to me. In tears, he quickly ran into our room, climbed into our bed, and snuggled up next to me as close as he could.
My wife was close behind him with our youngest son. We looked at each other and knew it could be a long couple of hours until morning. The four of us laid down and listened quietly to the storm for a few minutes. I could feel Noah’s heart rate through his back and his tense muscles in his arms and legs.
I decided to turn on a movie to help drown out a little of the noise from the storm. With the noise of Don Knotts’ comedy, The Reluctant Astronaut, we began to drift off to sleep, safe and secure together as a family inside our house with the storm beating on the house outside.
Perspective in a Storm
I’ve always been one to enjoy storms. Thankfully, I’ve never had to experience a tornado or hurricane that threatens my life. So I have the luxury of enjoying it, for now anyway. The sound of the rain hitting the roof and the sides of the house, the deep rumble of the thunder that rolls through the entire house, and the flashes of light that bring near daylight to the backyard, all make me feel cozy and relaxed.
If that’s weird to you, don’t worry about it. It’s a bit weird for many adults and children, including my sons. When severe weather comes through tornado alley, especially in late June, not many would describe their feelings as “cozy” or “relaxed.”
Perspective changes the way we feel about and the way we see the storm around us; and the slightest change to that perspective can threaten our sense of security. Not having experienced a true threat from a storm yet, my perspective is different than those who live on the Gulf Coast and face hurricanes nearly every year.
I’ve had my safety threatened before though. Only the day before this storm we were driving home from church in a rain that made driving on the highway a nightmare. Suddenly, a car cut in front of us and slammed on their brakes. We hydroplaned, and eventually hit another car.
None of us were hurt, but it destroyed the sense of safety I had in our own vehicle and in life. We would now have to deal with insurance, find a new vehicle, and all the other wonderful things that come along with an accident. I was losing my cozy and relaxed feelings just like my son would the following night in this storm at 3:00 AM.
If you’ve ever lost your own sense of security like this, you’re not alone. Even Jesus’ disciples lost it as well. Luke tells us about a time when Jesus got into a boat with them to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8). It’s not a particularly long trip. You can easily see the opposite side from any part of the shore.
Not far into the trip, Jesus fell asleep. Only a short time later, a storm came up. As the boat filled with water, the disciples woke Jesus, who calmed the storm and asked, “Where is your faith?”
Finding Security with the Right Perspective
Jesus’ question was really about perspective. Jesus, who felt comfortable enough to sleep, had a different perspective than his friends. He asked them, not to berate them, but to prompt them to change their perspective.
Each of us has an inner world and an outer world, what goes on inside us and what goes on outside us. When we lose our sense of security, we allow the outer world to invade the inner world. The storm that rages on around us begins to rage inside us as well. We have no place to go, no place to hide. Our perspective of the world around us becomes our perspective of the world inside us.
When this happens, we forget we have a Father, we lose faith in his ability to care for us, protect us, and do what’s best for us. It’s like being afraid of a thunderstorm, being afraid and stressed after a car accident, or being afraid of drowning in a storm while Jesus sleeps beside you. It’s incredibly easy to do, and many of us allow our outer worlds to invade our inner worlds multiple times a day, sometimes even multiple times an hour.
If we allow him, God will also invade our inner world and remind us he cares for us, protects us, and wants the best for us. It’s like crawling into bed next to your dad to feel safe from a thunderstorm, or remembering that God kept your whole family safe in a car accident and will provide for you, or having Jesus wake up and calm the storm that threatens to sink your boat.
Having enough peace in your inner world to sleep in a storm isn’t easy to achieve in a single day. I've experienced times when God does bring a supernatural peace that I can’t explain. But there are times when he calls me to trust him in the middle of the storm when peace isn’t always there.
Changing your perspective is tough though because, well… it’s your perspective. So then, how do you sleep in a storm?
Sleeping in a Storm
If fear and doubt, a loss of security and safety come when we lose our perspective, the solution must be to find the right perspective again. Again, this isn’t an easy thing to do, but we can work with the Holy Spirit to regain it over time.
Here are three practices you can begin today to start that process:
1. Meditate on God’s Identity
In The Forgotten Way, Ted Dekker’s basic premise is this: God is infinite, and so, beyond being threatened. He is all powerful and all knowing. We can debate the implications of this for evil and suffering in the world later. For now though, meditate on this reality. Your father cares for you, loves you, and wants the best for you. Nothing can threaten him, scare him, or force him to act out of anything other than who he is.
It’s difficult for children to grasp this concept with their own fathers. When they call us to jump into their arms, to take the medicine we don’t like so that we will get better, or to rest in the middle of a storm, they ask us to do something that doesn’t make sense to our own, childish perspective. They ask us to live in a way that’s contrary to what we see in the world around us. God, our infinite father, who loves us more than our own fathers do, calls us to do the same thing.
Seeing him for the loving father he is allows our perspective of the world around us to change. It allows his reality to invade ours. It’s the reality of living as a child of God, in his kingdom, where you're always safe and secure, even in death.
2. Talk About God’s Greatness
Recognizing God is infinite is all well and good, but it’s easy to lose sight of that perspective. Even children who take a leap into their father’s arms can be hesitant to do it again only a few minutes later. Although, often these children begin to do something adults would never do, they begin to jump without even looking to see if their father is ready to catch them (talk about living in a new reality).
For the rest of us adults who struggle to maintain the perspective we glimpse occasionally, God has given us a family, a community of sisters and brothers who know what it’s like to be afraid. He’s given us people who see the same storm we see. They’re there to remind us of God’s greatness, to hold our hands and help us keep our eyes on Jesus.
Chris and I often call this talking about the Gospel. It’s the practice of rehearsing God’s good news, that we’re children of God, living a new life in a new kingdom, without fear of suffering, sin, or death. It’s the practice of remembering who we are in light of who God is, and it helps us maintain our perspective when the storms around us threaten our security.
3. Practice Re-Centering Your Inner World
The first two practices will do a lot to help you recover your perspective of who God after a storm hits. But the real trick is in learning to keep your perspective in the toughest storm, to sleep right through it knowing who your father is and who you are as his child.
So when even the slightest threat comes against you today, whether it’s frustration at another driver, irritation with a coworker, or a messed up drive-thru order, bring yourself back to the truth of who God is and who you are.
This doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. It means you are bringing your inner world back to center, focusing on the one who cares for you. When you begin to do this repeatedly, especially in the smallest storms, it becomes easier to do it when the big storms hit. Keeping your inner world centered on the truth of who God is will help you weather any storm.
Rest in the Storm
Storms are not fun. Losing your sense of security and safety isn’t fun. It’s painful, confusing, overwhelming, and scary. But God calls us to live in a different reality. He calls us to live as his children, who are ultimately safe and secure no matter what comes against us.
So practice resting in the storm today. Meditate on who God is, talk about his greatness with another person, and bring your inner world back into alignment with his reality. This is how we sleep in a storm.
Weathering the storms along with you,