By the time you read this the weather will probably be cool and cloudy, because British weather is notoriously changeable, but at the time of writing the thunder clouds were rolling in on a day of searing heat. At home we could not find an inch of cool space, in spite of the drawn curtains and closed windows which we hoped would keep out some of the sun’s rays. Everyone we spoke to was complaining of their clothes sticking to them, of sleepless nights and the terrible lethargy which stopped us all from doing anything productive. The weather presenters described the nights as ‘tropical’, but we weren’t geared up for it in non-tropical Windsor, and everywhere you heard the same lament…’It’s too hot!’
We talk about ‘the heat is on’, when we are in an extreme situation, or that ‘things are hotting up’ when a crisis is brewing. Heat is energy, and we could feel it in the air when the storms were threatening, oppressing us like a weight as the atmosphere grew close and unpleasant. It’s no wonder that heat can become a metaphor for times when we feel that things around us are becoming too much for us to cope with, when we feel burnt out and in need of refreshment.
Many of the Biblical writers spoke of God’s care for His people as a refuge when times were hot, stormy and tough. In Isaiah 4:6 we read that God’s glory ‘will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding-place from the storm and rain’; and Psalm 121 tells us that ‘The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night’, so we know that for thousands of years God’s love for His people has promised them sanctuary from all that threatens to burn them up or sweep them away.
Jesus demonstrated this in a supremely practical way when he was on the Sea of Galilee, perhaps after a day of intense heat, when ‘a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’ (Matthew 8:24-27).
This story is a great example of how the Lord of Creation can still the storm with just a few words, so how wonderful to realise that this is the same Lord who has promised never to leave us or forsake us. It’s interesting, however, that Jesus does not tell the storm to clear off before they get in the boat! He waits until it is in full swing, asleep and apparently unconcerned because those with Him are in no danger while He is with them. But at their call He wakes up and calms the waters. They were obviously shaken and upset by the experience, but Jesus did not try to shield them from the storm raging around them. Instead He protected them from its effects, and in doing so told them great things about Himself and their relationship with Him. For some of us today the heat may be on and the storm may be brewing, but we can be absolutely certain that we are safe in the company of Jesus, who will watch over us and protect us from the after-effects of the crisis, keeping us sheltered and shaded from the heat of the day so that we will not be burned up or swept away.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline