Is there anything worse than waiting? Whether we’re waiting for a diagnosis, for Dorian, or for the agonizingly slow checkout clerk, waiting is tortuous. It gives our thoughts time to inflate. What if? What then? Oh no…

Today, I went to top off my gas because I’m not from Florida, and I don’t know what I’m doing. (What on earth is a sandbag? And what does it have to do with rain?) I still had three quarters of a tank, but my mother-in-law insisted, “Just top it off!”

The first gas station was out of gas. I felt a tiny swell of panic. At the second gas station there was a mile long line. I joined it. All I could picture was Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds. You know those scenes of sheer pandemonium when people are raiding stores and they’ll kill you for a loaf of bread? I smiled really nicely at everyone when it was my turn to pump gas. Just in case. 

Storms remind us that we are needy creatures. We cannot survive without food. Shelter. Online streaming. What will happen if a hurricane obliterates these basic necessities? When I was a little girl there was a terrible storm in the Philippines. I don’t know if it ever made headlines, but it was the worst storm of my life because my mom and dad weren’t home. We had a live-in helper who had long since retired to bed. My brother, sister, and I huddled in my parents’ room, quite certain this was the end. 

Desperate, we picked up my mom’s Bible. I can still picture it. It had a leather cover with butterflies on it, and impossibly faded pages covered in ink. She read it all the time. I was so young, but somehow I knew this book had power.

We did what diligent students of Scripture are not supposed to do—we opened it at random. We were too little to realize we could take a passage out of context, but God was too gracious to disappoint. The Bible fell open to Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” Then a metaphor in verse 4: “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.”

If He could speak to the wind and the waves, He can speak to the storms without and within.

Instantly, I felt peace. I felt all-consuming safety. You know that moment in Mark 4 when Jesus stills the storm? It was as if He did that in my heart. In Mark 4:39 He used one phrase: “Silence! Be still.” For me, He used one picture: I was the little bird hiding from the storm beneath the wings of the Almighty. What could possibly be scary when Jesus had me under His wing?

Looking back, it strikes me that God spoke to me in a way I could understand. I was just a child, so He gave me a picture. One picture, and it was enough. Thirty years later I’m a little more dubious. That childlike faith wars with everything I “know.” Humanity is fragile. Harvey and Irma were not. What if? What then? Oh no…

Storms don’t just remind us that we are physically needy. They remind us that we are spiritually needy. Whether you sleep in the White House or a homeless shelter, you are powerless in the presence of the Almighty. He could end the richest and smartest among us with one storm surge. One thought. Revelations 1:18 says Jesus holds the keys of life and death. It doesn’t just mean earthly life and death. It means He holds the keys to eternity. Jesus has a monopoly on power. 

If that makes you fear God, that’s a good thing! It’s the fear of God that frees us from fear. As teenagers and young adults, my mom loved to “give us” Bible verses that she hoped would be prescriptive over our lives. One year she gave me a verse that sounded terrible to me. It was Isaiah 8:13: “It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary.” It took me years to understand that this verse is saying, “If you really fear God, you won’t fear anything else.” You will realize that everything on the planet and in the heavens bows in submission to Him. Thus, He will become your sanctuary. 

The secret to resting in God is recognizing His complete authority over everything. Even Dorian and diagnoses. Even heartache and loneliness, fear and unknown futures. If He could speak to the wind and the waves, He can speak to the storms without and within.