“It’s been the wettest October on record” I’ve heard that phrase a few times this year and it makes me think of all the English words for rain; drizzle, heavy rain, sheets, fine rain, mizzle, showery, squally, chucking it down.
Listening to the wet weather battering the seaward windows of our house, I’m looking for a new word to describe the wild intensity of the noise, the movement and the anxious sense of exposure it engenders in me on a stormy day, especially as I’m watching pieces of my house break off in the wind.
Here is an echo of the experience of “the storms of life”. It is as if suddenly we are standing in the face of a roaring wind and constant stinging rain. We can’t walk onwards, and it may take all our effort to just be able to stand. It is so raw and aggressive, often unexpected, always life-altering.
As the structures we have built around ourselves are splintered by the storm, it might lead us to believe that we are standing alone.
The Old Testament is full of the power of God, often described as a raging storm. I imagine Jesus’ behaviour in the temple as he cleared out the traders may have felt like a tornado whipping through that space. God is in difficult life experiences but seems untameable, wild and fierce, and not the gentle, comforting or calming presence I might wish for.
When all my sense are jarred and disturbed, I am looking for some kind of life changing encounter. However, If I’m being honest, no gentle kind of character could be authentically present in the midst of the wildness of grief, or the fierce pain of injustice and anger.
I could draw on a mustard seed of faith which reaches out to a living God in the storm tossed vessel with us, inhabiting the pain and vulnerability of life, even daring to speak to the storm.
And just maybe I could live out a faith which hears, like in the story of Job, God’s voice speaking out even from within the raging wind. A God who offers an open invitation, in the midst of all we live through, to a wild storm-ridden encounter full of transformative power.