Raising Up a Roar

Coastal storms (often called ”Nor’easters”) in the Outer Banks are a very present reminder of the power of the water. Certainly during storms and hurricanes, we see extraordinary and damaging tides, waves, and flooding. I had a conversation with an Atlanta friend last week about the precariousness of living on a small island off a small island, and explained that sometimes the road connecting us to the main road gets so flooded that it becomes impassable. Of course it is usually a matter of waiting about 12 hours for the wind to shift, but even as I was saying it, I had a renewed appreciation for the majestic and dangerous power of water.

During a recent off-shore storm, I could hear the roar of the ocean from the front steps of my church. Given the fact that the church is located three miles inland, that is saying something.

The 93rd Psalm uses imagery of robes, thrones, floods, and waves to describe the power of God. Even with the first line, we see the psalmist taking a stand against all of the earthly powers and pretender idols:

Psalm 93 (Common English Bible)

The Lord rules!

Right out of the gate, the psalmist makes his position clear … the Lord reigns over everything. Substitutions and fakes need not apply. Then the writer goes on to describe how the Lord is clothed:

He is robed in majesty—
    the Lord is robed,
    clothed with strength.

The word majesty conveys a sense of dignity, sovereign power, and grandeur. The first listeners to this psalm would have had a beautiful word-picture of God that could stand in contrast to the wooden or metal false gods of their neighbors.

Yes, he set the world firmly in place;
    it won’t be shaken.
Your throne is set firm for a very long time.
    You are eternal!

This invites the listener to compare the temporary thrones of the earthly kings to the permanent throne of God. The psalmist contends that there was never a time when God’s throne didn’t exist. What a comforting thought!

Lord, the floods have raised up—
    the floods have raised up their voices;
    the floods raise up a roar!
But mightier than the sound of much water,
    mightier than the sea’s waves,
    mighty on high is the Lord!

Hurricane Irene hit the Outer Banks during the first year that we lived here. The flooding and winds caused $25,000 worth of damage to our home. We lost a chimney, followed by two days of rain water that poured into two rooms of our house. We lost a dock, and the canal water flooded the entire back yard up to the house, where it took out our HVAC system. And we lost a car. When you live through something like that, you understand the power of water and floods. But God’s power is far greater, thanks be to God!

Your laws are so faithful.
    Holiness decorates your house, Lord, for all time.

This short but impactful Psalm is a great reminder today of the strength of the God we serve. There is nothing in this life that has more power than God. There is no earthly power, no force of evil, no demon or antagonist that can ever threaten or harm those who are children of God. Even death bows in obeisance to the eternal throne of the Lord.

No matter what you are up against today, take heart. God rules! His covenant lasts forever! And he is mightier than the storm that you are in. Thanks be to God.

Water’s Power by Michelle Robertson

Boundaries

Hurricane season in 2021 began in June and is forecast to end on November 30th. Living on the coastal waters of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I pay attention to this. We continue to have ”red flag days,” where swimming is prohibited due to dangerous surf conditions brought by passing off-shore storms. The key part of that sentence is ”off-shore storms.” It is not over yet, but we are beginning to exhale just a tiny bit as the season winds down with no direct impact this year. (Please Lord, make it so.) Our friends in Louisiana took a double portion of hurricanes this year, and I know that they are also anxiously awaiting the end of hurricane season.

People in other parts of the country probably think that the worst devastation from a storm comes when it makes a direct hit on the shore. I spoke with a woman from Michigan last week who thought it would be safer to live on the sound than the beach. In truth, there can just as much devastation when the west-side sounds flood as a result of the hurricane’s ability to displace tons of water in a short amount of time. When the sound returns, it returns with a vengeance.

Today’s Psalm offers a word of comfort for those times when we feel a storm coming and we fear for our safety. Those storms can be weather-related or situational. Storms of anger, betrayal, depression, confusion, and hopelessness can feel just as damaging to your spirit as a full-on Cat 5.

The psalmist begins with beautiful praise language:

Psalm 104 (Common English Bible)

 Let my whole being bless the Lord!
    Lord my God, how fantastic you are!
    You are clothed in glory and grandeur!
You wear light like a robe;
    you open the skies like a curtain.
You build your lofty house on the waters;
    you make the clouds your chariot,
    going around on the wings of the wind.
You make the winds your messengers;
    you make fire and flame your ministers.
You established the earth on its foundations
    so that it will never ever fall.

Let the image of God wearing light like a robe and going around in a chariot of clouds sit with you for a moment. Isn’t that beautiful? Breathe it in.

You covered it with the watery deep like a piece of clothing;
    the waters were higher than the mountains!
But at your rebuke they ran away;
    they fled in fear at the sound of your thunder.
They flowed over the mountains,
    streaming down the valleys
    to the place you established for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross
    so they’ll never again cover the earth.

This is where I find comfort. God set a boundary for the waters that they cannot cross, so they’ll never again cover the earth. Even when the worst storm is raging, God is still in control. Even when the winds of change are assaulting us and the waters of despair are rising, God is still in control. Even when the husband leaves, the baby gets sick, the business fails, the job is lost, the parent dies … even then, God is still in control.

I hope this brings you comfort today. God has set a boundary around your life and has wrapped you in a robe of eternity. The resurrection guarantees that no storm can permanently harm you, even when you are in the midst of one and it feels like there is no way out.

There is. His name is Jesus.

Stormy Weather by Michelle Robertson

Ida

Here on the Outer Banks, hurricanes, nor’Easters, flooding, and high winds are no strangers to us. We spend a good amount of the hurricane season getting ready to bring in all of the potential “flying objects” from our decks, stocking up on food staples and batteries, and making general preparations when the forecasters announce that an oncoming storm is approaching. We know what it is like to be inconvenienced by a passing storm, and we know what it is like to be hit with a CAT 4 or 5 hurricane with its devastation and loss of lives and property.

So when a storm hits another part of our country, we grieve, knowing exactly what that feels like. Our hearts are heavy for our brothers and sisters in Louisiana and Mississippi. You have been in our prayers these last few days.

Jesus was no stranger to storms. In so many ways, his entire ministry was a matter of moving from one storm to another. The storm of disapproval, the storm of persecution, the storm of disbelief, (even from his own disciples!) all the way up to the final storm of crucifixion.

But it is safe to say that Jesus overcame EVERY storm.

Matthew 14 (Common English Version)

22 Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. 23 When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. 25 Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed.

27 Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.”

29 And Jesus said, “Come.”

And Jesus says, “Come.” Come to me in the middle of your personal storm…the one that is keeping you awake at night and making the daytime miserable. Come to me in the fallout of your financial storm, and I will provide in ways you haven’t considered yet. Come to me in your pandemic storm, and I will show you how to stay safe. Just come to me.

Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”

All YOU have to do is keep your eyes on Jesus in the storm. Don’t take your eyes off him for one second. Strong winds assaulting you? Keep looking at Jesus. Crashing waves threatening you? Keep your eyes on him. Starting to sink? Look up!

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind settled down.

33 Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”

The Son of God is reaching out to grab your life and save you. It is only when you reach back that the wind will settle down.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus!

Look full in his wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.

And Jesus Said, “Come.” By Michelle Robertson

Isaias

As I write this on Monday, Aug. 3rd, I am sitting in my window seat overlooking a sunlit canal. An Emergency Alert just made my Apple Watch vibrate with a notification that a storm surge warning is now in effect for my area. Life-threatening flooding is forecast, and my watch advises me to “urgently complete efforts to protect life and property.” A kayak goes by and I get a CNN alert that Hurricane Isaias-turned-Tropical Storm Isaiah is now predicted to become a hurricane again as it makes its way right toward the Outer Banks tomorrow.

Oh, 2020, you little prankster, you!

Here on the Outer Banks, hurricanes, nor’Easters, flooding, and high winds are no stranger to us. I have already brought all of the potential “flying objects” in, have downloaded several Netflix movies onto my iPad, and I am planning to spend the rest of this day writing before Isaias comes barging in and possibly takes out my internet or my power. Or both.

Jesus was no stranger to storms. In so many ways, his entire ministry was a matter of moving from one storm to another. The storm of disapproval, the storm of persecution, the storm of disbelief, (even from his own disciples!) all the way up to the final storm of crucifixion.

But it is safe to say that Jesus overcame EVERY storm.

Matthew 14 (Common English Version)

22 Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. 23 When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. 25 Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed.

27 Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.”

29 And Jesus said, “Come.”

And Jesus says, “Come.” Come to me in the middle of your personal storm…the one that is keeping you awake at night and making the daytime miserable. Come to me in the fallout of your financial storm, and I will provide in ways you haven’t considered yet. Come to me in your pandemic storm, and I will show you ways to stay safe. Just come to me.

Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”

All YOU have to do is keep your eyes on Jesus in the storm. Don’t take your eyes off him for one second. Strong winds assaulting you? Keep looking at Jesus. Crashing waves threatening you? Keep your eyes on him. Starting to sink? Look up!

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind settled down.

33 Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”

The Son of God is reaching out to grab your life and save you. It is only when you reach back that the wind will settle down.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus! Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.

The Calm Before Isaias by Wende Pritchard