At times, there are strange interruptions in my busy week where the most insignificant object in my path teaches me the most significant lesson. I was walking along an empty pavement in the south of London one sunny afternoon when my wandering mind was suddenly drawn to a flattened empty Coca-Cola can.
The world’s biggest beverage brand spends a staggering four billion dollars on advertising annually and even in this dire and distraught state Coca-Cola caught my attention! Unfortuntaley, the flattened tin can didn’t encourage me to buy and drink it’s tasty carbonated content but there was something strangely appealing about it’s visual condition. It was crushed, but not broken… The flattened Coca-Cola can will (or can be) melted down and moulded into something new and useful again, I thought. Its metal might even be integrated into a life saving machine!
We’re all confronted with scary and scarring storms during our lifetime. Under the breath squeezing pressure of these intense challenges we feel crushed from all sides and rightfully so. But It is at this critical juncture where we can choose to believe in one of two roads ahead. ‘Am I crushed?’ or ‘am I broken beyond repair?’
The prominent British Artist, Charlie Mackesy recently released a heart warming and beautifully illustrated book titled, ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.’ The story is of four fellow travellers who are traversing together through life’s mountains and valleys during which they have simple and yet deeply insightful conversations. At one point a heavy laden storm begins to brew and as it heightens with relentless rain and stubborn bone chilling winds, the boy says, ‘this storm is making me tired.’ At that point the Horse says, ’storms get tired too, so hang on.’
It is said that the average storm (or hurricane) is equivalent to about 200 times the total electrical generating capacity on the planet! If we compare this colossal amount of life threatening wind and rain with the emotional, physical or practical challenges we face in life at times we are not far off. For most of us, these life crushing chapters are gruellingly real.
And yet the human heart has the capacity to not only withstand the storm but wait patiently until it is tired. We have witnessed this rousing resilience in the lives of many individuals, communities or faith groups throughout world history. Books have been written, read and reviewed and films have been produced and viewed on some of these immensely encouraging stories as well. And yet we tend to forget in the midst of our storm that we are made of the same material, persistence and strength as those famed individuals or groups.
God has uniquely designed and destined each and every one of us to push back on every scary and seismic storm. In the Book of Luke, (chapter eight) we read a fascinating account of Jesus and His disciples crossing the lake of Galilee in a fisherman’s boat. As their boat departs from the shore to cross the vast sea of water a storm begins to reveal its harsh and perilous punch and so the disciples begin to panic. They look towards Jesus for help but He is already asleep! They shout, ‘master, master we are about to drown!’ Jesus awakes and speaks to the storm,‘be still’ and the storm immediately subsides…
There are a handful of helpful lessons to learn from this Biblical account but the one that intrigues me the most is Jesus teaching His disciples the art of sleeping in a storm. If we can sleep (rest) in a storm we eventually acquire authority over it. The storm still exists (for some time at least) but even in that duration it has zero influence on our hearts and minds.
Leaders and followers from all walks of life need an anchor to still and quieten the boat of life now and then. A quiet heart and mind allows us to think from God’s perspective. God’s vantage point does not deny a problem but it does deny it’s influence over the way we think, believe and hope. There are a myriad of reasons why leaders across all realms of life tend to fail or falter in their journey and many a time this is fully understandable as storms arrive in precarious shapes and sizes, are tough to manage, and can have a tendency to mystify all intellect and reason. But if we unpick the many cases of failure, layer after layer we may find that the art of being still and quiet in the midst of the mayhem could have prevented a disastrous derailment.
Intellect, self help theories, or various mental exercises may help to a certain degree but a ‘perfect storm’ can elude all such tactics and training. It is only the peace of God which transcends all understanding that anchors our boat firmly in the wind and rain of life whilst offering us a steady flow of wisdom on what to do next. It’s in that perfect storm where He continues to speak, ‘you may feel crushed, but you are not broken beyond repair. I will lead you through this and mould and remake you into something new and beautiful. Just watch. Just hold on. I’ll be your anchor in this.’