THE EYE OF THE STORM –A MEMORY FROM AFRICA
If you’ve ever been caught in a hurricane, you know it’s one of the most powerful natural forces known to man. Wind gusts in excess of 155 miles an hour; rain up to 5 inches an hour; the ability to create waves 10 stories high, and storm surges of over 25 feet. Some hurricanes have been known to level entire cities in minutes.
While we were missionaries running the Mission’s College in Durban, South Africa, back in the early to mid-1980’s, we experienced a devastation Cyclone. At that time we did not have 24/7 news media, as we all are accustomed to today, plus we did not have the luxury of a National Weather Center that would alert everyone of a pending hurricane/cyclone. The day it made landfall on the Natal coast is etched in my memory down to the very day and hour!
It was a Sunday and we were preaching up the coast from Durban, in a small town called Tongaat. We arrived with our two children to find the church building packed and the overflow crowd stood outside leaning in the open windows. Seating was merely rough- hewn wooden benches and the children and I squeezed onto a bench near the platform. It was a sultry hot day with no breeze blowing to give even the smallest relief from the oppressive heat. The longer the service ran the hotter and lack of oxygen inside the church, grew worse. Glyn was wearing a light green suit and about half way through his message I became aware the color of the suit was changing as it began to be soaked with perspiration. To my concern I noticed that Glyn was having difficulty getting air and the color in his face drained away until it became a greyish pallor. I whispered to the children that if their Dad did not stop preaching he was going to pass out! I had barely made that observation when Glyn simply stopped preaching as there was no strength left in his body. He needed to get out of the suffocating heat in the church and get some fresh air to replace the draining oxygen levels in his body.
Unfortunately the outside air was no better. It felt like a brooding element of nature was about to unleash its worst upon the land. By now it was apparent a storm was coming but we had no idea what the next three days held for the Natal coastline. Shortly after we returned to our home in Durban, as the long evening shadows added an even more sinister feeling to the stifling atmosphere, we became aware that a wind was picking up. It was not long before the first bands of the Cyclone moved ashore and what was a sultry, airless day quickly turned into a night of screeching winds and blinding torrential rain. The storm raged all night and into the morning. Trees were uprooted, power lines down and anyone venturing out was asking for sudden death. The city of Durban is a coastal city with sprawling suburbs built on the steep hills that towered over the coastline. Roads were flooded, homes were destroyed, every river, stream or creek that flowed down to the ocean turned into muddy raging torrents that devoured everything in their path. Hillside cemeteries turning into racing rivers and many caskets were washed out of their resting places.
Once the cyclone had abated and it was safe to venture out we drove to a cliff road that looked directly down on the shoreline. The scene that filled our eyes left us awe-struck. Huge ocean rollers that were at least 30 feet high were roaring onto the beaches which by this time were totally flooded. The velocity of the waves ripped sturdy wooden piers from their moorings and tossed them like toothpicks. This was a cyclone we would never erase from our memories! Yet as I began to muse about this experience I realized there was a spiritual lesson to be learned.
There are two components of a hurricane that are especially interesting.
The first is the “eye” of the hurricane. This is the relatively calm center in which sinking air inhibits cloud and thunderstorm development. So in spiritual terms the “eye of the storm” is the place of peace and safety.
Secondly; immediately surrounding the eye, is the eyewall, which contains rising air and powerful rain clouds.
In sharp contrast to the “calm eye”, the “eyewall” houses the most powerful elements of the hurricane, including the strongest winds and heaviest rains. If you could hover above this force of nature you’d see that the strongest part of a hurricane takes place near its center, while the center itself remains relatively calm.
There’s a lesson here for all of us my friends. God doesn’t take away all our troubles—at least not as quickly as we’d like Him to—but He promises us PEACE in the midst of them.
Few people had more trouble than Moses. His job was to feed, lead, and protect two million people. Yet no matter what he did, they constantly complained and were unsatisfied with Moses’s leadership. In desperation Moses cried out to God for relief and asked for an assurance of God’s Presence as he followed God’s command in leading the Children of Israel. God answered his prayer, promised His Presence and the sign of His promise was that God would honor Moses’s request to see His Glory.
Exodus 33:20-23 (NKJV) “But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”
For you and me reading this Nugget the “cleft of the rock” represents the “eye of the storm” where we find God’s refuge and peace in the midst life’s spiritual, physical and financial storms! If we step out from the shelter of the “eye of the storm” we are exposing ourselves to being battered and bruised and left defeated. Shelter my friends close to God’s side in the “eye of YOUR storm”.