With this last bout of Old Man Winter throwing his weight around, proving that he’s not leaving without a kicking and screaming match, I see something I’ve never seen before. The icicles on the grain bin aren’t hanging straight down. No, they’re frozen in a diagonal direction. The wind is so strong, the ice freezes in a comb over. I didn’t even know that was possible.
Another thing I’ve never experienced is horizontal snow. The wind was so strong at times last Saturday on the farm that the snow looked like it was falling east to west instead of up and down.
I opened the back door so that I could see it better. When I did, two birds huddled up in the corner of the house flew away. I felt bad that I disturbed their sanctuary, but they eventually came back, taking refuge in the same spot. I know because I disturbed them two more times. Even though they were afraid, they kept returning.
It’s easy to be afraid. Even the disciples who walked with Jesus were afraid at times. In Matthew chapter 8 they see Jesus heal a leper, the Centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law and many others who are sick and demon-possessed. The people keep coming, but Jesus is tired.
“Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him saying, ‘Lord, save us, we’re going to drown!’
“He replied, ‘You of little faith! Why are you so afraid?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
“The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!’” (Matthew 8:23-27).
Some of the disciples were fishermen. They’d been in storms before. But this time they believed they were going to drown. So this must have been a storm unlike any they’d ever seen. Jesus, exhausted from the throngs of lost and needy people, is sound asleep.
It’s not that the disciples awake Jesus that’s important here. It’s the fact that they do it with such fear. They’ve been with Jesus a year at this point. They’ve seen him in action. They know that he’s special. But they really have no idea who he is. If they did, they wouldn’t be afraid. They’d simply wake him up saying, “Uh, Lord. Do you want to take care of this storm?”
Jesus asks them an important question. “Why are you so afraid?” Then he immediately calms the winds and the waves. The Centurion has recently said that Jesus simply has to say that his servant is healed and he will be. In contrast to the disciples, his faith is strong.
After Jesus leaves the boat with the disciples, they encounter two demon-possessed men, who immediately call out to Jesus by name, also calling him “Son of God” (verses 28-29). By contrast, they know who Jesus is and they are afraid.
But the disciples who live and travel with Jesus are afraid of the storm. I can’t blame them. There have been many times during the storms of my life when I’ve said, “Lord, wake up! I’m drowning here! Don’t you know what’s going on?”
There have been times when my life storms have been so intense it’s as if the snow is falling horizontally and the ice is forming a comb over. Yet, as is true with the disciples in the storm, the very Son of God is with me. The one whom demons fear.
In my head, I’ve known that a long time, but it’s taken longer to know it by instinct. Now when the storms hit, I’m like the two birds by our back door. I seek out my refuge in the storm.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3).
Saturday, the day of the big storm, was also the anniversary of my husband, Dave’s, birthday. And the anniversary of his brother, Don’s, passing. And also my six-month wedding anniversary to my husband, Mel.
As Mel’s first wife Janice’s favorite Bible verse reads, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
It’s good to remember that if you’re in the midst of horizontal snow or a raging storm at sea, and during the calm times, too.