Some days I feel like God is standing on a dock with me and we’re watching a storm at sea and He says, “Walk out into that storm. Go out to the end of the dock, into the middle of the darkness, the cold, the destruction. See what it is doing to your world, your life, your family.”
“I can see the storm from here God”, I tell Him. “I don’t need to go out there and face it, to brace against the wind only to have it hurl me into the swirling cauldron. I can see it fine from here. I get it, I get it.”
“You’ve been saying that for years”, says God. “But you don’t get it. You can’t see the full impact of the storm from here. You must walk out into it, let it take you, let it drag you down under so you can experience the depths of its fury.”
“But I’ll drown”, I cry. “I’ll be swept away from safety, from You, and perish in the waves.”
“I’ll watch over you”, God replies. “I will never let you lose your way back. I will never let you perish.”
I feel His gentle hand nudge my shoulder. “Now go”, He says.
Terrified, I start cautiously towards the end of the dock. The wind begins to knock me off balance, so I grab hold to the rail, pulling myself along. I look back at God. He is getting smaller and smaller. Still He flicks His wrists toward the end of the dock, shooing me out into the crashing wind. I try to walk upright but I stumble, slipping on the slimy planks. As I cling to the side of the dock, the storm begins to engulf me. I am tossed about by its power, blinded by its cloudy gray darkness.
“God, I can’t see you!” I scream.
I’m still watching you”, He calls back. “But don’t look at me. Look at the storm”.
“But when Peter walked on the water he looked at the storm, and he sank”, I argue.
I don’t want you tripping the light fantastic over the waves”, He replies. “You need to sink down into the chaos and feel it take you under. If you walk on the water it will only make you proud and arrogant. And we don’t need any more of that.”
Now I feel the thundering wind whipping my wet shirt around, stinging my body with its force. The dock begins to tremble and shake until one of the support beams cracks and the whole structure slumps into the mighty current below. I grit my teeth and curse loudly as I hold tightly to the crumbling rail. Once more I spin around in the blistering blackness to face the One I can no longer see.
“How is this supposed to make me a better person?” I demand.
One more time the voice of Almighty God pierces through the storm:
“I don’t want to make you better. I want to forgive you.”
“Forgive me…?”, I sputter. “For what?”
The only answer I hear is the howling in my ears.
By now all hope is lost. It won’t be long before the dock will submerge and I’ll be washed away into the thrashing sea. I muster one huge last gasp of air and scream at the top of my lungs:
“God! Why are you so angry at me?”
“The anger you feel is your own”, He calls back. “That storm out there isn’t mine. It’s yours. But you don’t need the power to walk out of it. You need to believe that I love you enough to come in there and get you.”
At last I understand. Until I am submerged in the depths of my own darkness, I’ll never know how deep God’s love and forgiveness will go to rescue me from it. I relax my aching muscles, let go of the foundering boards, take a breath, say a prayer …
And surrender to the storm.