Stillness in the Storm
by Ty Carlson
Have you ever left your job – the one where you spend the bulk of your adult life – and said “I can’t wait to get home,” and then when you get home, you think “wait a second, I wasn’t ready for this.” Yeah, neither have I. But to put it all in perspective, I’ll relate an average day for me.
I was going to regale you with how insane my life can be sometimes. Instead, just imagine 4 kids fighting with an army of their own clones, and then feeding them and washing their clothes. Alright, that’s an exaggeration. There are some with much harder lives and I’m probably just being petulant. Life is crazy for all of us, but that doesn’t have to be the focus.
That said, when do I find time to be still, or when is there time for peace? If I’m looking for quiet, that’s usually when everyone is sleeping, and I’m supposed to be.
Peace, I have realized, can be found in some of the busiest times of day. When I’m reading to the boys at night, and they’re asking me all kinds of questions about Ender’s Game, or what kind of dinosaur was best, I find peace in those moments. When there are literally hundreds of legos spread across the living room floor and each kid is building some different, I find peace in that time. When the boys are sword-fighting in the back yard and Ellis is having a tea party in her room with Kip. There’s peace there. Yes, until one of the boys comes in with a busted hand, the peace sort of dissipates. With all of that in mind, it’s becoming more and more clear that there cannot be peace with chaos. Not that I want chaos, but the polarity is there for a reason. It’s the same thing with laughter and sadness. We know how joyous laughter is because of how soul-crushing sorrow can be. Innocence and guilt, knowledge and ignorance, all of those things we see reflected in children especially, because their view is limited by the influence parents allow on them.
But we aren’t ever promised a peace-filled life. In fact, we’re told the opposite, and to enjoy it. Um, unsubscribe. “Rejoice in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). Rejoice in the hard things, because that’s where you’ll be the closest to God. I don’t know about you, but my life has certainly had hard parts and if I’m very still, I have been able to sense God’s presence in some of the darkest hours.
Psalm 46 tells a great deal about God’s desire for each of our lives. The part about desolations (v 8) and the burning and breaking (v9) those really resonate with me, I’m sure you understand why. But the part that gets me every time is verse 10 when he says “Be still, and know that I am God.” The word here that is used is the literal Hebrew word that means STOP! The act of ceasing any action, and by extension I think, any other thought. Knowing this, and coupling it with those times I find peace in the midst of this crazy life, has helped me realize that peace is a calm within the storm, not the quiet apart from the storm. There cannot be peace without a storm. Otherwise when we would see the stillness that reveals God’s glory? Verse 11 of Psalm 46 says “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” There aren’t many times when we’re in need of a fortress, but I’d bet money that in the midst of a storm, a fortress is certainly a welcome sight. Find shelter in God’s fortress and revel in the storm because the only place to find peace is in the middle of it.
While home can be one of the most chaotic places – with emotional, spiritual, and physical constraints being tossed about every minute of the day – it can also be one of the most peaceful. Folding the kids’ laundry and smiling at how many times it’s been passed down is peaceful. Picking up the kids’ muddy shoes by the backdoor and knowing that they’re muddy because they were having fun is peaceful. Laying back on the couch, my arm around my wife and falling asleep to the sounds of whatever show she likes is peaceful. Peace must be recognized or it will be eclipsed, rather swiftly, by everything else we have going on in our lives. Home isn’t always peaceful, but it is my place of peace because I choose to recognize those small moments, and hold onto them in the storm.