In Quotes

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

{Old English Proverb}


ship in storm3

Is there anything in nature quite like the ocean to remind us of how small, how assailable we are?  I have very mixed emotions about the vastness of it all.  I don’t know how to swim.  So, a day by the sea usually involves sitting contentedly under an umbrella with a book in hand; soaking up the sound of rhythmic waves; the smell of salty air; and the panoramic view as banded shades of white, green, blue, and gray appear stacked on top of each other as far as the eye can see.   A walk on the beach in the surf’s ruffled edge;  collecting little treasures of driftwood, sea glass, and shells is pure relaxation.  How easy to lose track of time, lulled to sleep as the sun warms my face and seagulls call overhead. What’s not to love?

shells in handAny seasoned sailor will tell you how entirely different it is to be on the ocean.  Leaving the safety of shore and tide pool shallows, it’s only a short distance out before everything has a very dissimilar feel.  The green and blue in those beautiful bands of color is replaced with a single shade of inky black and depths completely hidden from view.  On land where the horizon is but a soft even line,  we forget how rough and choppy the water actually is until it’s right beneath and all around.  Sailing is not for the faint of heart.  The surest way to truly hone the skills it requires?   Navigating storms, big and small, that are bound to arise.

There’s no need to go looking for rough waters;  let’s instead live lives full of gratitude for seasons when the breeze is sweet and the sun is shining.  But at some point  circumstances, whether or not of our own making, will pull us into the deep and into the gale.  What then?

Here’s the thing about storms — a tempest without often brings a tempest within.  Our Heavenly Father is master of both.  Fear that grips us as we face the unknown,  or sadness that washes over us in disappointment or loss is real; He understands their weightiness. When we’ve made a mess of things and our choices plot a course to certain shipwreck, despair and regret can loom large.  It’s the menacing storms within that threaten to undo us.  But they don’t have to.  Listen to the words of 2 Corinthians 4:8:

“…we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;

perplexed, but not despairing;

persecuted, but not forsaken;

struck down, but not destroyed …” 

The storm may be unforgiving but grace stands immovable!  Here there’s remedy and relief for the broken and battered.  When our disobedience is costly and we recognize our need and confess our sin, He is faithful to cleanse and renew. (I John 1:9) Or, when everything has come unraveled through no fault of our own and we’re terrified to look on as billowing waves surround us, His truth quiets our mind, His presence stills our heart.  (Philippians 4:7)  In times when all we can do is sit quietly holding the pain that has visited our lives, He reminds us that “God of all comfort” is one of His names.  (2 Corinthians 1:3).  In overwhelming anxiety, He invites us by faith to cast it on Him because He cares for us.  (I Peter 5:7)  When things are heavy, He says “come to Me … and find rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

chart and canoe

In His grace, He has made provision for every need.  And although our little boat may seem absurdly outmatched by the swell, it’s going to be alright;  He quiets storms.

As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boist’rous waves obey Thy will
When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me!

{Edward Hopper, 1871}

With each new test, we’re more fully and confidently learning how to trust and depend on Him.  The storm without is met by peace within.

“And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”  Mark 4:39

Praying we’ll be encouraged by grace ~ Love, D.