“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Few people can sleep through a storm like Jesus did. Here in Britain we’re only just waving goodbye to Storm Ciara, to welcome Storm Dennis. It has been very noisy outside. Sleeping soundly when the winds are rattling on your roof, doors and windows, is a challenge for most people. But not me. I like my sleep too much and I have been so tired recently, that I have hardly noticed the noise outside.I am given the full report by my kids in the morning, though.
The crazy weather outside reminds me of a time, almost two decades ago, when I worked as an English Teacher in Taipei. One afternoon, students and staff were all dismissed, which was highly unusual. We were told to go home and prepare for the storm that was about to pass over the little, sweet-potato shaped island of Taiwan. I thought nothing much of it. In fact, happy with an afternoon off, I planned a little trip to the gym for a quick workout at a lovely, hot shower, before heading home for the evening.
As I walked towards the gym, the wind turned my umbrella inside out, and I noticed that there seemed to be a lengthy queue at the bus stop. People seemed quite eager to get home. The trainers at the gym were a little confused as to why I was going inside and not going out of the gym; the direction that most customers were heading. They told me that they were closing in an hour tops, so I would have to be as quick as possible. Well, that wasn’t going to give me enough time for my shower, so I decided to get on the bus and go home.
I steadily paced myself up the five flights of stairs, to the little box of a flat I was living in. Built on top of an apartment block (with no lift), this little box was the temporary home for me and my friend Lisa. I met her on the flight to Kaohsiung (where we were both supposed to teach, originally. I would love to tell you the story, but it’s a long one!)
Flopping myself down in my corner of the flat, I reached for that book I had been hoping to finish. Now, I finally had the time! I didn’t even get to finish the next page, when Lisa came bursting through the door. Pale as a sheet and eyes bigger than saucers, she exclaimed, “Mel! We have to fill the tub with water! We need to get to the shop! We need food! Water! We need batteries. Get the duct tape! Wait! Do we even have tape? We have to tape the windows shut!” Her panic jolted me out of my ignorance. What on Earth was happening?
Lisa switched on her portable radio on, pointing to it as to say, “wake up, Mel!” As the announcer informed us that a typhoon was approaching, we hastily pulled out our Lonely Planet travel guides. We looked up “typhoon”. We were not familiar with this kind of weather disasters having grown up in South Africa, so we were a little unsure about what was coming. “Oh,” said Lisa, calming down a little. “Typhoons are quite a common occurrence in the far east, and it says here that there is no need to panic. Unless it is a super typhoon.” No sooner did she say that, when the announcer said: “…and we’re expecting the eye of super typhoon Bilis, to pass over Taipei at around 3am tomorrow morning.”
Lisa and I looked at each other in pure shock. We grabbed our wallets and rushed down the stairs to the corner shop. We bought water. We bought enough food to feed a small army. We bought batteries. And duct tape. We ran back home, and to this day, I can’t tell you how we manage to get all those groceries up five flights of stairs. In record breaking time, I might add.
We were in for a long night. There wasn’t much else we could do, but wait out the storm. And hope for the best. I grabbed my portable CD player (yes young ones, there once was such things), and settled on my bed with my earphones in my ears. I didn’t need to hear what was going on outside, it wouldn’t be helpful.
As I listened to my favourite tunes, I fell asleep. I might have woken up at 3am. I vaguely remember the sensation of swaying like a tree in the wind, while lying in my bed. Strange, I can confirm. This was followed by a little tremor too, just for a sprinkling of dramatic effect. Apart from that, I slept soundly. I knew I could get the full report from Lisa in the morning.
All around us were signs of the storm’s terrible destructive power, as we emerged from our cocoon-box the next morning. The door to the roof terrace had been completely ripped from its hinges. Neon signs lay scattered on the ground. Trees were uprooted. Thinking about that now, I shiver when I remember that flimsy little apartment on the roof. How it stayed in tact through that storm, is a mystery to me. Great advert for duct tape, though! But I have to laugh when I think of how unaware I was of the actual danger I was in. I did not have a spirit of fear, at all. I had a sound mind. Ha!
Sound is an interesting word.
Sound is a noun.
As a noun, it is defined as “vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear.” There were many vibrations that found my ear that day. From the panic in Lisa’s voice, to the announcer of bad news, to the sound of the storm outside. The sound of the storm was alarming.
The storms we face in life, will also try to speak to us. It will try and get our attention. When encountering a life-storm, I wish that I could enjoy the same ignorant bliss that I did when I was living in my little box in Taiwan. The good news is, we can choose which vibrations we are going to entertain. Just like I chose music over the chaos outside, there are times when I have to shut off the noise from the storm and listen to the sound of hope, faith and love.
When my problem is banging on the door of my mind, I choose to worship. There are times when I have to shut off the voice of reason, so I can hear the voice of the Father.
Sound is a verb.
Google tells me that sound can convey a specified impression when heard, therefore it is also a verb. The impression that the storm outside left on my heart, was very different to the impression left by the music in my ears. And it makes me realise that the condition of my heart is affected by what I am paying attention to. What I am listening to, is continuously being stored up in my heart. What is stored up in my heart, is going to spill out of my mouth.
The sound that spills out of my mouth is a powerful force. It is even more powerful than a super typhoon! It can be equally destructive. Or it can create something beautiful. The sound that I am releasing, from my mouth, will break down or build up! I am created in the image of One who speaks and it is done. What is the sound that is coming from my mouth, when the storm is raging outside?
There are times when the facts of a situation can be sobering. All around us there are noisy broadcasts of concern, worry and alarm. But when the world is releasing the sound of fear, where are the children of God? Do we join the choir and sound off in panic? Or do we stay grounded in peace, releasing the sound of Faith?
Sound is an adjective.
To be sound, is to be “in good condition; not damaged, injured or diseased.” And look at some other synonyms for being sound: Undisturbed. Unbroken. Uninterrupted. Untroubled. Can we weather a storm without it affecting us? I believe there is a way. And it is not about ignoring the storm, like I did in my ignorance. But it is about being prepared. Being proactive.
Knowing that you are living in a world that is broken, home to a thief whose only job is to kill, steal and destroy, isn’t it wise to be prepared? Finding and storing up the resources you need before the storm hits, takes away a lot of the panic and fear before it comes. In fact, the best sleep I have had, have been in safe and secure in my parent’s house. Being lulled to sleep by listening to the incredibly powerful sound of a South African thunder storm. Resting in the knowledge that I am in a safe place. Where I have everything I need.
Storms will come. Sometimes, like Dennis and Ciara, they come on the heels of the other. Especially when you are called to do something great for the Kingdom. And you are! So don’t be surprised when the wind starts to rattle your windows!
Synonyms include: “Well founded. Well grounded.”
Often, when I have felt fearful, I would blurt out 2 Timothy 1:7 in a panic, hoping for the fear to go away. But I believe there is another way of living out this scripture. A scripture that Paul wrote to Timothy as he was about to hand over his ministry to him. Because of the calling on his life, Paul found himself in prison. He was in the middle of a storm.
Now, it was Timothy’s season to take up the call. Timothy would have to continue in the legendary footsteps of Paul, and stand up to misinformed “voices of reason.” Timothy would need to be prepared for the storm. And Paul gave him a key to weather the storm:
“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:13 NKJV
Hold fast the pattern of sound words.
What are the pattern of words that you are holding onto? Are you well founded, and well grounded in sound words? This, dear friend is the key to sleeping through the storm. Don’t be caught out like Lisa and me. Be prepared. You have more than duct tape at your disposal. You have the sound Word of Life. Ground yourself in it. You will be tankful when you’re safe and secure as the eye of the storm simply passes over you.
Today, I hear the Father say: “My Child of Destiny! As you close yourself off in me, there is no storm that can touch you. I am your hiding place. Your refuge. Your place of safety. Let my Truth be louder than your storm. Let my Word fill your heart, as you shut out the noise and as my sound Word rise from within you, release the power of Truth. Truth that speaks louder than facts. Truth that creates order out of chaos. Truth that brings life out of darkness. You carry that power inside of you. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Release my Truth. Release the sound of Faith. There is no storm that can outlast you! For I am in you. And I am with you. Always.” ❤