The rain is pouring down here, smacking and smattering against the window like a thousand tiny pebbles, and the wind moans low, a groaning and aching. I am huddled in my bed, cosy-warm with the white duvet over my body, the whole house quiet save for the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard.
“I am The Lord, and there is no other”, the Bible says, and I remember that I can know Him, the one God who made the whole earth. Last summer, I was in Greece on holiday, and there was an evening sky streaked with orange and pink, the waves licking my bare feet, and I breathed out that phrase in awe, “He is The Lord, and there is no other”, because it is sunsets and sea that bring me back to the revelation that God is real and beautiful.
But today I am back at home, and it is winter, and the rain is battering the window.
“I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity.”
What do you do with that?
Sometimes I think that Christians don’t really know what is in the Bible. We sing of the God who speaks light into darkness, and that is true, and we speak of the God who brings peace, and that is true, and we sing of the God who paints sunsets, and that is also true, but what do you do with the other stuff?
“I make peace and create calamity.” He calms things down, and stirs them up. This doesn’t sound like the Christian God – this sounds like the Greek gods of myths and legends: capricious, malicious, swatting men in anger when they have lost a bet in heaven.
It sounds scary, but you do need to continue reading.
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, The Lord have created it.” (Is 45:8)
This tells us why he stirs things up. He is not capricious, like the gods of Greek myth. The kind of storms God creates are righteousness-storms.
I look out of the window at the dark sky, and the rain sounds like a machine gun. “Let the skies pour down righteousness.”
We sing our songs, and we think of a gentle mist, but the way that God’s righteousness comes is through a storm, through the sharp smacking of water and air onto a shocked and complacent earth.
“Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation” – that’s an earthquake. God splits the earth in order that righteousness may spring up.
I think of the ways in which my life feels like calamity, feels like being battered, and I wonder if it wasn’t evil after all, if it isn’t all meaningless, if there is perhaps a chance that it is the Lord himself shaking my soul into life. I prefer the gentle evenings of the mediterranean, and the songs in a major key with four simple chords are always easier to sing, but there is an energy here, too, even in the dark skies of angry midwinter, even within my dark heart. Perhaps it is not my heart that is being rattled, but the barriers I have put up around it.
Sometimes I wonder if that which feels like attack is actually salvation, bringing up fresh springs from a broken earth.
It is a strange salvation, this, to be shaken, to be split, to be rattled and slapped with fresh water. It is a strange salvation.
This was a meditation on Isaiah 45, especially vv6b-8, written during a Story Sessions write-in (on a very stormy day.)
[I mentioned on Facebook that my ME hasn’t been great this last month, and although I may not yet be in relapse-ville I am definitely in its suburbs. Life is looking decidedly quiet for me at the moment, which is why the blog has been slack of late… Thank you for your grace and your prayers! ]
Over to you:
Wonderful work here, Tanya. And, as always, beautiful writing. Praying for steadiness, for no relapse. For a break in the storm.
Thank you so much, Diana. (Confession: I always want to call you Mother Diana, like some churches call their pastors Father).
I feel like God is answering your prayer for steadiness. I am feeling much more steady and peaceful than I usually do in these situations. Thank you.
As one who grew up on a farm I know that life springs forth from storms. That storms are welcomed in the midst of dry and the middle of plants dying. Perhaps the storms in our life keep us from drying up and dying in some ways. In some ways on the farm we wished for storms; storms that did not destroy but ones that ended up nourishing the soil and plants. In life I seldom if ever wish for storms or even are willing to go through one thinking it might bless me. I guess growth never comes through the easy and the ability to help someone else when you have not gone through any fire is greatly diminished. I know there must be times when you Tanya wish you did not have so many storms from which to pull from to bless others. 🙂 I pray that God will bless you with some sunsets and sea soon.
I love this perspective from the farming viewpoint – I had forgotten all about the nitrogen cycle and how sometimes storms are essential. That sounds very Isaiah-ish – that sense of thirst for change, for God to break through and bring nutrition.
(And I’m also echoing your prayer for sunsets and sea!)
P.s. Thanks so much for that email you sent a while ago – I replied to thank you but it was returned as undelivered. Not sure why? But I was grateful for it nevertheless!
Wonderful post as usual.
“I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity.”
I was thinking about the creation. Well, plate tectonics to be more precise. Continental drift (or were they pushed?). The fact that in order to have a world at the right temperature and with all the right ingredients the earth has like fish scales that can move against each other separately plus vents like my pressure cooker, so that the whole thing doesn’t smash or explode. Part of that means that we have to cope with earthquakes and volcanoes but they allow growth of continents, rich farm land and even spit out fresh water into the atmosphere amongst other things. If we keep records (which most people’s do even if it’s oral ones), and take notice of them (which most peoples don’t even when they’re written down), most natural disasters, even most of our weather, have predictable cycles – tho maybe not the actual precise date or magnitude of the ups and downs. We’re designed so we can learn how to deal with things. We could avoid class dictated architecture – safe buildings for the rich, precarious ones for the poor; safe arable land for the rich, volcano slopes for the poor ….
How come, knowing that we have a dynamic, very dynamic God, did we let ourselves drift into the Aristotelian view of a static earth, and static societies come to that? We’re designed to cope with both comfort and adversity, both as individuals and as communities. How do we let ourselves drift into the easy peasy no more needy theologies so we can cop out of looking after each other, it’s just lack of faith of course, isn’t it … ?
“How come, knowing that we have a dynamic, very dynamic God, did we let ourselves drift into the Aristotelian view of a static earth, and static societies come to that?” <---- THIS. Right there. Wow. That is a brilliant and profound question. (You should write a blog post on it!) That will keep me thinking for a while. Thank you.
“Sometimes I wonder if that which feels like attack is actually salvation, bringing up fresh springs from a broken earth.” Living here with you. I don’t have ME but I do have chronic, autoimmune diseases. This is real good, Tanya.
Thanks so much, Rachel, for living this with me, feeling this with me.
A friend recently shared your blog with me because she noticed you have the same illness as my husband and are sustained by the Lord and His grace just as we have been. My husband has had ME for the past six years. He is mostly bedbound. To say it has been difficult is an understatement, but God has given us so many gifts (gold) among the thorns (I love the title of your blog…there is so much truth there) to remind us of His love, His nearness and that there is purpose in the middle of this mess. We have written about many of the ways that God has shown purpose in my husband’s suffering on our caringbridge site, caringbridge.org/visit/tomjarrett . We had no idea when we started updating family and friends about this unusual illness that we would still be writing six years later. Writing about the hard times and when God has done something amazing has become such a treasure to look back on and remember and see His faithfulness.
Thank you for your writing that is so filled with honesty, truth and encouragement.
Christine – thank you so much for stopping by and taking the trouble to comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s severe illness. “To say it has been difficult is an understatement” – I know just how much weight there can be in such a short phrase. I’m thinking of you. I’m so glad that you can testify to God’s faithfulness in the midst of it all. Praying for God to bless you both.
I’m not at the hindsight part yet but I’m working on it. I think the clue was in another of your recent posts, about the need to face the lament before finding the joy. This is another beautiful piece of writing. Thank you so much. Wishing you strength.
The hindsight will come, the joy will come. I’m trusting this for you.
I’m thinking of you in this difficult season. Much love.
When my Husband Jeff was diagnosed with Prostate cancer and the operation expected to heal him didn’t work we were in shock. We’d prayed and believed he would be healed but it took another two different kinds of treatments and a lot of side effects before Praise God his last blood test was as near to zero as it can be.
Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns helped me through. http://youtu.be/vCpP0mFD9F0
It was the worst experience of our lives and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but we try to look at the posistives. God was with us throughout. We have a closer relationship with each other which I didn’t think was possible and we have some wonderful friends who supported us through this bad time. Praying for all who are going through their own storm at the moment including you Tanya xx
I’m so glad to hear that your husband’s blood tests are now clear, but that sounds such a difficult experience to have gone through. I’m really glad that you can now point to the good things God has brought out of it – that’s amazing! Thank you for your prayers – I really appreciate them.
Can I think of a time when I felt broken but God was using it for a purpose? You bet, not long ago, and maybe I’m entering another phase. I have to trust Him, I have to, there’s no other way to go, tough as it is!
I’m thinking of you as you grit your teeth and re-enter the fray…
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Hoping God gives you strength as you trust in Him.