At the weekend, I treated myself to a writer's magazine. I suppose that deep within there is a desire to not just improve my skills, but also to widen my horizons. I am conscious that most of my work tends to have a spiritual bias. There are very few things I have written over the last couple of years that I would label as secular!
One of the tasks that one of the writers set was to look at a newspaper and find an article that could inspire you to write something. There was a lovely little story about a disappearing scarecrow. It had gone missing from its usual place, only for the farmer to find it scaring crows in a field a few miles away. I like that and I will have to sit on that particular egg and see what hatches!
The other article that caught my eye was about recent storms unearthing the remains of ancient skeletons on a island in the Outer Hebrides. Hurricane force storms tore across the Isle of Barra revealing an infant and an adult skeleton. It made me think about the revealing nature of storms! Storms have a tendency to strip away things that are not firmly rooted, or nailed down - whether that be soil or trees or the shed roof. I know I said I would try to be more secular - but this just lends itself to a spiritual point!
It was the storms, the wind and the rain beating upon the two houses in Jesus' parable that revealed the nature of the two houses. Had there been just sunshine and gentle breezes, the house that was built on sand would never have fallen over. The poor quality of the foundations would never have been revealed. The house that was built on the rock would not have fallen over either - not that it did anyway - but the builder would never have known the strength of his foundation. It is in the storms of life - and I have been through a few - that the quality of the building is revealed. The quality of my walk with Jesus is clearly demonstrated when I go through difficult times. As much as we don't like trials, they are good for us, as they test and prove our faith to be strong.
It was the storms, the wind and rain beating upon the fishing boat, that caused the disciples to wake Jesus up and ask him to save them. Had there been sunshine and gentle breezes, the boat would never have been in danger of sinking. There is a tendency to think we can manage all by ourselves, that we are experts in certain areas of life and that we don't need help. It took a violent storm for the disciples, some of them seasoned fisherman, to realize that they were out of their depth and in need. Without the storm, the disciples would never have known that Jesus was stronger than the storm they faced.
As I look back over some of the "storms" that I have faced, I am not always sure I like what they reveal about me. The foundation is solid, but I think a few of my windows get broken, and one or two slates fall of my roof!