The recent wave of violent storms ravaging the mid-western states reminds all of us of the unpredictable power of nature, and the fragility of human life. I can only imagine what people in Moore, Oklahoma felt when a second series of tornadoes touched down in their area this past week.
Storms have a way of getting our attention, and reminding us of what is important. We heard many testimonies from survivors of these storms expressing their gratitude for life and family in the face of losing everything else. What a reminder of the value of relationships. You might say, events such as storms like these serve as wake-up calls, helping us to put our priorities in a proper perspective.
I cannot imagine anyone sleeping through something as terrifying as a tornado. Yet, in the Bible there are two stories where individuals slept through violent storms. The first is found in the book of Jonah. The prophet Jonah was running away from God’s call. Rather than going to Nineveh to proclaim His word, Jonah boarded a ship to go to Tarshish. He was going in the exact opposite direction of where God called him to go, thinking he would be able to get away from God’s presence. (Jonah 1:1-3) A storm was about to sink the ship. The frightened passengers found Jonah fast asleep, totally oblivious to the danger, completely unaware of how his disobedience was impacting the lives of everyone around him.
Compare this with another biblical story about someone who was asleep in a boat while a storm raged around him, but his sleep was very different from Jonah’s. This person was Jesus. He slept in the midst of the storm because He was in the center of God’s perfect will, and knew beyond any doubt that everyone around him was completely safe and secure. He could rest even in the face of a life-threatening storm, because He knew everything was in His Father’s control, including the storm. When the frightened disciples awoke Jesus, He calmed the storm and rebuked them for their lack of faith.
When the sailors and passengers in the boat awakened Jonah, he knew the only solution was to throw himself overboard at the mercy of God. He became aware of how his disobedience put everyone around him in danger. Sleeping through a storm in this case was not a good thing. In fact, it showed how disobedience affects more people than just the disobedient, and how every decision we make touches the lives of others, and in many cases negatively.
As strange as it may sound, this is a valid question for each of us. Are we sleeping through the storm? If so, why are we able to sleep? Is our sleep affecting the lives of others?
It is possible to be so confident in God’s presence and protection that even a violent storm does not shake your faith. “Sleep” could mean, you are aware of that protection, and know in your heart, “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. “ (Romans 8:28 NASB) I pray we all have this kind of rest or “sleep” in the storms of life.
It is also possible that you are “asleep” in the midst of the storm because your disobedience has dulled your senses to the dangers around you, and you are totally unconcerned about how your decisions and rebellion is negatively impacting those around you – even those you love most. In this sense, I pray we are not “asleep” in the storm.
If you are able to sleep through the storms of life, I hope it is because you are “resting” in Christ, and living in the center of God’s perfect plan for your life. If, on the other hand, your sleep is the result of disobedience and indifference, I challenge you to wake up, and take action to make things right with God. Take heed to God’s word: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph. 5:14 NIV), and “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11 NASB)