Seagulls & Storms

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Are you in the middle of a storm at the moment?

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It was July last year, and my husband Brad and I were out for our daily walk along the bay foreshore near where we live.

We’ve been out walking pretty much every day over the last 12 months, regardless of the weather, but on this particular day the weather was brisk.

It was very windy, and the normally calm water of the bay was full of white caps, the wind was whipping up the sand to, so there was a sandblasting effect going on as we walked along the path.

There weren’t any birds around except for seagulls… and even they looked like they weren’t really enjoying the weather.

There were two main groups of birds – and here’s a photo I took of one of the groups:

Notice that they’re all oriented or lined up in the same direction, facing into the wind.

They’re all a bit hunched and you might not be able to see it in the photo, but most of them had their eyes squinted or closed – I’m guessing to stop the sand from getting in their eyes.

They’re definitely bracing themselves against the wind, the sand and the spray.

Let me tell you, on this particular day I was happy I had my sunglasses on – even though they kept fogging up because I was also wearing a mask.

The way these seagulls were all lined up wasn’t the thing that grabbed my attention.

What was fascinating to me, was that less than 10m away, well within eyesight of this hardy bunch, was a second group of seagulls.

This second group were just hanging out, doing whatever they felt like.

They weren’t all facing in the same direction and they weren’t bracing against the wind, because they were sheltered behind the protection of a shrub – which was dramatically cutting down the stormy effects they were being exposed to.

Now all of these birds were at the same location in the same weather conditions.

But there was a dramatic difference between the way that the birds who were in the protection of the shrub were going about their day to the birds who were experiencing the full extent of the weather.

My thoughts quickly turned to another circumstance where two groups of people were behaving very differently to one another in the midst of a significant weather event.

This particular event was outlined in the bible in Mark Chapter 4 from verse 35 to verse 41.

To get away from the crowds, Jesus had suggested that a boat-load of disciples head over to the other side of the lake when a furious squall came up.

It was the sort of weather event where the waves were breaking over the side of the boat – and the disciples were more than a little concerned that they were going to drown.

When you consider that many of these disciples were professional fisherman, from families of professional fisherman, and yet they were still very concerned about the possibility of the boat being swamped it gives you some idea of how ferocious this storm actually was.

Jesus meanwhile, is sleeping on a cushion in the stern of the boat.

Or at least he was sleeping, until his disciples woke him up.

Unlike the seagulls, the difference between the behavior of Jesus and the behavior of his disciples wasn’t simply a matter of physical positioning.

It wasn’t just because Jesus was in a different part of the boat that gave him a different attitude towards the weather conditions.

But check this out!

Psalm 91 says in Verse 1 that ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’

Verse 3 says he will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart’ and verse 9 says ‘If you say ‘the Lord is my refuge’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all of your ways; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone, you will tread on the lion and the cobra, you will trample the great lion and the serpent.’

There’s a whole heap of reassurance in those verses for anyone who has made the Lord their dwelling place. Jesus clearly understood that in the midst of a storm, it is our spiritual positioning that determines our level of protection.

In simple terms, the physical conditions didn’t concern him.

He wasn’t worried. Jesus wasn’t fearful. He rebuked the wind and the waves and they were still.

And notice the response of the disciples.

They’re now terrified – not that the storm is fierce, the boat will be swamped and that they’re at risk of drowning – but terrified of the sheer power and kingdom authority that Jesus has just displayed right in front of them.

Just a quick heads up – Jesus said in John chapter 14 verse 12 that those disciples would perform even greater things than he had!

It doesn’t matter whether the storm you’re going through right now is a weather-related storm, or a storm involving relationships with other people, or a storm involving finances – just like the seagulls I saw on my walk last July, the way you position yourself is going to make a big difference to your comfort level as you weather the storm.

Psalm 91 promises refuge to those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High – but you’ll need to take action to position yourself in order to receive the benefits of that promise.

Just like the seagulls needed to move behind the shelter of the shrub to get themselves out of the wind, you might need to reposition yourself too.

And when you’re re positioned in the shadow of the almighty – don’t forget that just like Jesus – you too can speak to the wind and the waves of whatever storm you are experiencing and tell them to be still.

Until next time, blue skies!

P.S If you found this idea interesting or useful, save it for later by pinning it to your Christian Encouragement board on Pinterest.

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