When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. – Mark 4:39
It was a milestone birthday for Yonge Street Mission CEO Angie Draskovic. And having just come through a season of trials, she wanted to celebrate. She, pastor and speaker Lorie Hartshorn, clinical psychologist and author Dr. Merry Lin, and See Hear Love‘s own Melinda Estabrooks were booked to go to Jensen Beach, Florida in late September for a much needed ladies’ weekend.
All four of these leaders had an exceptionally busy year professionally. Angie recently became CEO of Yonge Street Mission, an organization that helps Toronto’s most vulnerable rise out of poverty, through meal provision, a food bank, the Evergreen youth drop-in Centre, healthcare services, and employment services. Lorie is Pastor of Adult Ministries at C4 church in Ajax and has as huge ministry built through her speaking engagements and video bible teachings. Dr. Merry Lin, author of The Fully Lived Life, has a busy clinical counseling practice and oversees all of the work at Lifecare Centres. And Melinda Estabrooks is the creator of See Hear Love, the creator and host of her Podcast Your Story, and is a popular speaker at Christian conferences and events.
Each of the women had been through a hard season personally and they each wanted nothing more than a restorative weekend of sun, sand, shopping, good food, and conversation.
And then Hurricane Irma hit.
While the women were all safe in Canada during the storm that so devastated southern Florida, they did not know what they would find when they arrived in Irma’s aftermath. They observed some storm damage and the area – close to vibrant West Palm Beach – was unusually quiet. The lack of wifi made communication with the outside world hard.
And yet, the weekend was exactly what the women needed. There were very few tourists around and many of the locals were still away – waiting for any damage to be fixed before returning. The lack of crowds made conversation and fellowship over a meal that much deeper. The shutting out of the outside world for a while allowed each woman time for prayer and contemplation.
The women rented a boat and a car so they could tour their surroundings. Although they were not in the area hit hardest by Irma, there was still some evidence of damage wherever they went.
Scripture is filled with references to storms. From the flood in Genesis to Jesus calming the waters, a storm indicates a shaking up and a renewal. In the New American Standard translation of Job 30:22, Job cries out to God: “You dissolve me in a storm.”
Storms like Irma and storms in our life can shake us to our core. They test the foundations on which our homes are built and leave us forever changed. And – like Job – we can be left dissolved.
But storms always reveal God’s presence. In Isaiah, God continually promises to be our refuge in the storm. Because when we die to self and so much is washed away, there we are, in our essence: children of God and inheritors of the one Kingdom that wind and rain cannot destroy.
Scripture also shows us that Jesus can calm the storm completely. When the winds swirl around us, and the rains pound down, Jesus can provide relief if only we put our faith in Him.
Angie, Lorie, Merry, and Melinda had planned a weekend of shopping, eating, touring, and fun. And they did, indeed have some of that. But the storm meant their vacation did not go as planned. With sparse access to internet and fewer entertainment options, they had more time to focus on rest, their friendship, their dedication to serving others, and their faith in God.
And no storm can take those away.