We’ve all heard, seen, or even experienced being in the eye of a violent storm. We’ve watched hurricane coverage on the news and marveled at those broadcasts that occur while the “eye” is passing over. Things change drastically in the eye of the storm. Raging winds calm down, torrential rains stop, and the dark clouds break to reveal the warm light of the sun. It really is a beautiful pause, but the reality is that the storm is far from over.
In life, we encounter all kinds of situations and circumstances that begin to beat relentlessly on us. It could be in a relationship, job, health crisis, church or spiritual upheaval. When we are faced with extreme storms in our lives, our behavior often resembles that of someone caught in the midst of a literal storm. We battle and struggle to keep our footing in the raging wind and rain. We learn the direction in which to lean so that we have less chance of getting knocked totally off our feet. We adapt as the elements around us change so that we can survive with the least amount of damage to us or what we hold dear. Survival instincts are heightened and our scope of priorities seems to become more focused, and then it happens; there is an eerie calm that comes over us and a peace that allows us to breathe.
I said earlier the eye of the storm is a “beautiful pause,” because that’s all it is – a pause. This temporary period of peace and calm is simply a chance to take a breath, gather yourself back together and think clearly for a little while. It’s a moment in time in which we are reminded that there IS life out there beyond the storm. It reminds us the sun is still shining and takes us to a place of hope that can strengthen our resolve in the face of knowing there is nothing we can do but endure the impending return of the storm. This eye is where I find myself right now. Standing in a place of peace, being reminded of how beautiful life can be, and creating an even deeper appreciation for every other time of calm when the storms weren’t raging. In this place of peace, it is easy to see clearly the path behind and to gain perspective on the path ahead, even though I cannot direct it.
Facing the second half of the storm is inevitable when standing in the eye. The peace and calm can be deceiving until we consider what is headed straight for us. Survival is not guaranteed, nor can we be certain we will come through unscathed. We may lose many things we hold dear before the storm is past. We may find ourselves faced with decisions that require us to let go of what we have in our hands in order to hold to the things that might literally save our lives. It may not be what we want, but if God did not open up an “evacuation route” before the storm hit, then our only choice is to do our best to lean into Him no matter how scared, discouraged or depleted we may become in the process. He promised He would never leave us and that all things will be worked together for our good. He didn’t say “most things,” or “some things;” He said ALL things.
Being in the eye of my current storms has provided both perspective and peace. There is a shedding of things that don’t matter and a refocusing on the things that do. Am I certain of what else is coming? Not at all. Am I certain the things I hold dear will be preserved or preserved in the way in which I wish them to be? No, I am not. The storm is not over, but I am reminded that I know the Master of the wind. I know the one who has the ability to say, “Peace, be still” to the raging storm and it will obey. The best thing I can do is trust the One who is already working things out. I know He will answer every question in His time and will sustain me through the remainder of this storm.
Sometimes we need the perspective that only the storm can bring. We can become so complacent in our “ruts” in life, often assuming we will always be able to maintain the status quo. We float through our days, almost mindlessly at times, and when the storms roll in, we are suddenly more alert. We may be scared or disrupted by what is happening, but we are no longer able to be oblivious to what is going on around us. We may endure the shakeup in our routines that come when the storm hits. We may have seen it coming and tried to make preparations for riding it out, or it may have hit us without warning. We struggle and react from a survival instinct, and it isn’t easy, but then the eye of the storm moves overhead. It is then that we have that pocket of peace where we can take a deep breath and be reminded of what it feels like when there are no storms on the horizon. We can be refreshed and even strengthened in these beautiful moments of perspective.
The eye of any storm is temporary. It is wonderful and provides the much-needed calm we crave after battling everything that is bombarding us, but it is still temporary. As a person of faith, the eye is a gift that reminds us God is truly in control. It is a chance to turn our eyes back to Him and focus on everything good He has promised us. It is a chance to reflect on what He has already brought us through and be grateful. It is an opportunity for us to set in our hearts that He has not brought us this far to let us down.
Even if the storm causes you to lose things you wanted to keep, don’t give up. No one said life was going to be easy. As a matter of fact, our Father in Heaven told us trouble is a certainty! “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.” (John 16:33) This world is full of broken people, including you and me. We are imperfect, and it doesn’t matter what positions we or others hold, what status we have in life or even the background from which we came; we all struggle. You may be struggling with the stages of your own storms right now. Don’t give up. Even if the storm changes the landscape, don’t give up. Most of us are creatures of habit and will do anything to keep from losing the stability of our routines. We will go to great lengths to dig in our heels when God may be trying to move us forward. This fight we put up internally is sometimes the exact reason we need the storms. My grandpa always said, “If you don’t know which way to turn, don’t turn.” That’s great advice and we should never react out of fear or even being uncomfortable. I read a quote earlier this week that said, “Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to move forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition, God’s got you.”
If you don’t know which way to turn, don’t turn. Be steady and listen for God’s direction, but then be willing to do what He leads you to do, even when you know He is leading you into an area you’d rather not go. But if you are genuinely seeking God’s will for your life, don’t take any path off the table. We cannot seek His will or clarity in direction but then tell Him which paths we will not take. And if He is answering your prayer for clarity but you keep creating your own noise that is making it impossible to hear, then He may allow storms in to shake your priorities back into focus. He will bring you through the first half of the storm into the eye where everything falls into place, and you gain the perspective you need in order to not only survive the storm, but to come out with gratitude for the clarity. My prayer for you is the same as it is for me, that we breathe and press on with courage and total trust that all is already well, even though we can’t see it yet. No matter what the landscape looks like when the storm is over, I pray we can find joy and peace in having made it through, and have a renewed sense of strength and clarity in learning what is truly important and what is not.