The weather along Lake Michigan has been noticeably unsettled this summer, like a nervous groom before his wedding. We are missing the long stretch of sunny days under high barometric pressure that bring such deep blue skies and the warm assurance that winter is still far away.
What we need is a really good storm.
Of course, the weather takes special watchfulness in paddling situations. You don’t want to be caught out on the water in wind and lightning when a big blow rises up. It’s one of the rules of paddling: to pay attention to the signs and barometer when heading out.
Once on a paddle on the Au Train River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we got caught in a late afternoon storm. The lightning was too intense to safely shelter under the big trees that leaned over the water. Paddling furiously back upstream, we returned to hunker down under a bridge we had passed earlier. The fury of the storm flashed and crashed all around us as the wind was funneled under the bridge. Trees came down, and grasses were flattened while the sedate river of just minutes ago became a roiling, angry maelstrom in pure, unleashed cacophony.
Life is filled with unexpected blows.
Things are sunny and pleasant, and we loll happily in our unwary hours. Then out of the blue, the skies darken, the storm threatens, and we are caught unawares. Examples abound: the day of 9-11; a cancer diagnosis; an accident; a death. There seems nowhere to take shelter. Nowhere to turn. Nowhere to hide, or huddle. Life’s storms can be terrifying, and sometimes they pile up and train down on us one after another.
All I can say is that with perfect predictability, all storms pass. In our canoe, after 30 long minutes of hanging on by our fingertips to the overhead girders, the tempest grudgingly moved on, leaving the river to calm its nerves, the trees dripping with diamonds, and a permeating whiff of fresh-bathed forest in every direction- abrupt silence, achingly beautiful crystal lighting, and a newly-birthed loveliness.
God himself set up the physical laws that create storms. He also has his reasons for allowing them to roil our lives.
But, no matter what assails us, God works only good for those who love him. He is always for us, so that the storms of trouble and hardship cannot separate us from his love.
Not storms. Not evil. Not hate. Nothing high, nothing low, nothing in all of creation can separate us from how much God loves us.* The most oft-written phrase in the Bible is,
“Do not be afraid.”
In a storm? Let God be your bridge. Your shelter. Your hope. It’s going to be all right. Don’t be afraid. Just hang on and let it blow.
* loose paraphrase of Romans chapter 8 in the Bible