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Calm Before the Storm

It has been 12 years this month since tornados ripped through this area causing destruction that we haven't seen here in quite some time and hopefully won't see again. I remember that day clearly for several reasons. One thing that stands out most to me is the utter calm right before one of the tornados touched down. I distinctly remember this because I was driving. I had two "tweens" I was taking home from softball practice. I had been listening to the radio as they chatted it up in the backseat. I was listening as the Lowe's in a neighboring town had been hit by a tornado and reports indicated one was close by. I was watching the sky and the roads. I noticed everything was suddenly still. No wind. No birds. Nothing. It was eerily quiet. As I grabbed the steering wheel with a grip I do not think even Superman himself could have pried free, I saw a bolt of lighting hit the ground to the left of the road. A few seconds later, one hit to the right. Still, it was deafening quiet. Still. Peaceful. By pure instinct, I knew what was getting ready to happen.

There was no siren that went off. There was no blast on the radio telling me. The tweens were still oblivious to what was going on. I knew for much of the drive up to this moment, what was going to happen, I just did not know when or where. My focus was getting home safely. I made the decision to do the one thing I could. I floored the gas and drove straight up the middle lane (as a safe person, I, of course put my flashers on, you know, just as a precaution.) There was no rain, there was no wind, there was not yet anything that could be seen but I knew. This immediately got the attention of the two tweens. As I white knuckled the steering wheel and could hear the pure panic in their voices, I calmly told them everything was going to be okay. They needed to trust me. They needed to remain calm, sit back and know it was going to be fine.

I wasn't sure exactly if I believed the words coming out of my mouth but I had enough faith I knew we were going to make it through this no matter the outcome. Just as I turned down the road on which my housing area was off of, the silence broke and in my rear-view mirror I could see the torrential downpour and a madness I barely escaped. Wet and a little shaken, we made it home to find the power was out but the point was we made it home. It was not long before I learned just as I turned off onto the side road, a tornado had touched down and ripped through not only a housing area (remember the lightning that hit the ground? Right there!) as well as a major building (remember where I floored it? Right there!) All the roads were now closed exiting my neighborhood. I couldn't leave if I wanted to.

That "calm" before the storm is not uncommon before storms. You can even experience it in less dramatic storms. It is there. You can also find "calm" within a storm. Have you even weathered a hurricane? When a hurricane passes, you will experience the "eye" of the storm. Many will mistake this "calm" or "calmer" period for an end to it. That is an illusion. It is merely a "break." Once the eye passes, the remaining part of the storm comes through and in some cases can be just as, if not more, powerful.

Having experienced more storms than I care to recount, I have often wondered, why? Why is there such calm, such peacefulness, such tranquility before the storm? Why is it in the midst of the storm? Why, even, can you find it after the storm? While I have never come to an answer that makes logical or rational sense, I do believe there is a reason.

Colossians 1:16-17: "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." This is one of the most powerful scripture verses for it defines the divine nature of Christ. If you read verses 15-23, you will find, Paul minces no words in making it clear to the fact that Jesus is God and He reveals God to us. He came from Heavan and He is Lord of all. He goes on to tell us in verse 23, "But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it."

Isaiah 43:1-2 tells us:

"But now, this is what the Lord says—

he who created you, Jacob,

he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze."

Matthew 6:33-34: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:35: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

God has never and will never surrender His authority. It is in Him, all things were created and through things are held together. My fears and worries are just that: my fears and my worries and they pale and wane when I look at them through the eyes of the promises I find in Christ. I will have troubles. I will have all sorts of things I face that are simply unfair and out of my control but I should never loose sight or disbelief in the one to whom I am joined - the one who knows every hair on my head - the one who created me and is with me in all things. I may not know how I am going to make it but He does. All it takes is my mustard seed of faith. When I have even a brief moment of any doubt, I need only be still and know He is God. Maybe, just maybe that calm, that peaceful moment is for that one purpose. Not to serve merely as a warning (which it can be - hey, its coming so take cover) but as a reminder no matter what happens, what you are going to face, no matter what is running through your head, no matter how anxious you are feeling, remember what I said... remember My Word... remember, I am God. In other words... don't forget, we are going to get through this together - good, bad or indifferent - I AM HERE.

On Wednesday of Passion Week, there were no "remarkable" events that transpired. The Bible doesn't say what the Lord did on the Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover. Maybe it was the "eye" of the week. Jesus had foretold of what was to happen. Judas had already decided to make a deal. The religious leaders were already putting their finishing touches on their plot. The devil was not only circling, he was prematurely celebrating. Doubt, fear and turmoil was brewing. The illusion of "calm" was just that, an illusion.

Today, as we mark "Holy Wednesday" with no fanfare, with no celebration - as though it were any other Wednesday and just the middle of the week, let us take a moment to reflect on the solemn nature of the calm or the perceived calm. Let us be reminded that Jesus and His disciples spent this day, more than likely, resting and fellowshipping. They spent this day, which would be the last day they would all spend together, like you would, with friends. Do you think for a moment any of them, other than Jesus knew or fully believed just how important this calm before the storm really was? What this day would mean to them come tomorrow? or Friday?

As we prepare our hearts for Passover, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, take a moment to think and reflect on everything that has happened so far. Now be completely honest with yourself. You do not have to answer out-loud. Before tomorrow, think about this: how much money would it take you to betray someone you know? your best friend? your mother? your child? What if no one knew it was you? What if it was more money that you had ever had? it could solve all your money problems? How much is your integrity worth? Here's another question: Could you just stand there and watch those same people being dragged away while you cower doing nothing and not once, not twice but three times, openly denying knowing or having anything to do with them after promising them to their face you would never leave them or betray them?

Think on it.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our journey through Passion Week.

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