God's word is truth (John 17:17) Sanctify them through thy truth;
Readers of the classic comic strip Peanuts will recall Snoopy’s innumerable attempts to write a novel – which always began with the same sentence, “It was a dark & stormy night.” In all the years that the late Charles M. Shulz drew the strip, Snoopy never finished writing that book, or even progressed very far beyond this infamous opening. Many fans never knew that Snoopy’s first line wasn’t original.
At some point in our life, we all have chapters that begin with, “It was a dark & stormy night.” Like poor Snoopy, we often find ourselves at a loss to make the rest of the story lead toward a happy ending. Neither the darkness nor the storm is literal – rather, they are the darkness of anguish, grief, & doubt, & the storms of raging forces about us that we are powerless to control.
We cower in tears within the shuddering walls of our lives, covering our ears to shut out the icy wind howling outside our windows & the pounding of the rain against our roofs. If ever a Bible story were to begin, “It was a dark & stormy night,” it would have to be the account of Jesus & His disciples on the boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.
During a violent storm, the apostles were appalled that Jesus slept in the front of the boat while they feared for their lives – “Master, carest thou not that we perish? Jesus, arising, silenced the storm with three small words- “Peace, Be Still” (Mark 4:35-39) Sometimes, on our dark & stormy nights, we, like Jesus’ followers, rail against Him for appearing to disregard our misfortunes.
We wonder why He does not arise for us as He did for them, & eliminate our troubles with a quick, “Peace, be still.” We ask, “Does He not care whether or not we are overtaken & consumed by the circumstances that trouble us?”
We need to be reminded that our experience may be like that of Elijah:
“& behold, the Lord passed by, & a great & strong wind tore into the mountains & broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; & after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; & after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; & after the fire, a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12)
We may have to endure a few whirlwinds, earthquakes, & fires before we’re ready to listen quietly to the voice of God, speaking to us through His word. The dark & stormy night may be preparing us for Wisdom yet to come.
Does the earth ever shake beneath our feet? Do the mountains of our universe crumble into the ocean? Do the waters of stormy life flail us & terrify us? Yes, sometimes they do. & in those times, God speaks to us through His Spirit, “Be still, & know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
The older we get, the fewer things we fear. Some fears are lessened because of mature understanding. For example, I know there are no monsters in the closet, or under the bed. Some fears fade through resignation – I am fully aware that awful things happen in life, but I also realize I can’t change that fact, & go on.
& yet, there remains a little child within me that is still afraid of the dark & stormy night & the many horrors associated with it. However, the more mature person in me is learning to listen for & to the Voice that says, “Peace, Be Still.”