JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The "Chaplain's Corner" offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.
Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.
As a boy, I can remember the smell of the rain. There were times when I was outside just enjoying the day, playing with friends, and I remember the sudden hint of the rain which led me to believe that there was a storm coming.
I wasn't a meteorologist or a "storm watcher," but I seemed to have a sense of when 'it' was coming. Many times that smell would soon be followed by the sky turning just a bit grey and it was almost as if the clouds were swallowing up the sun. The wind would start to pick up and at times, many times, I could look out across the distance and see that the clear, blue sky was disappearing into a vastness of a stark, borderless darkness.
I wasn't sure at that point whether or not the blue sky was being covered by the dismal-looking wall; being blotted out, or if this enormous mass was somehow chasing away the bright blue expanse. After all, what did I know about Meteorological terms like Advection, Beaufort scale, Cloud Condensation Nuclei, and Gale Force? I was only a kid, seeing the storm through the eyes of a child.
I can remember lying in my bed at night during such storms. The thunder and lightning, the rain pounding against the windows as if a multitude was throwing bottomless buckets of water upon my house, and hearing the winds howling outside, left me somehow admiring this sheer awesomeness. By that I can say that the storm was tremendous and overwhelming, but also impressive and awe-inspiring.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork." The idea behind this is that God's great splendor and magnificence is announced in the sun and the moon, the stars in the sky, the clouds, and the air; truly reflected in the weather patterns which we experience. That means that his splendor is displayed even in the midst of the storm.
Each of us has a story to tell and in life we have probably experienced storms. Some of the storms are fairly mild with little to no damage, while others leave a trail of devastation for miles. During the storms of life, where do we find shelter? We each may have very different storms throughout our lives, yet I would imagine that many of us have been through the same storms. Each of us has different ways of managing life during the storms.
In the Christian scriptures, there is a story of a man who was traveling in a boat with his companions. He was resting peacefully when he was awakened by the sound of his companions calling out, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" A furious squall came up. The waves broke over the boat, nearly swamping it. The men on the boat were navigating through the water at the command of a man who had recently chosen them to journey with him. They had spent some time with him, but they were, in essence, new recruits. They didn't know what they were going to go through, but they were willing to put their trust in this man to bring them to a destination. Each of the men may have been looking toward a common destination, but might have imagined various ways by which they would reach it. Quite probably, they did not expect to come across the storm at this time in their journey, if at all.
The storms of life can be quite sudden and often surprising. The storm will not be the same for everyone. Even if we go through the same storm, we will each have our own way of dealing with the storm. Sometimes, the storm is just so overwhelming that we come to a point where we cry out, "God, what is going on here? Do you not care that we are perishing?"
The man in this story was Jesus and his companions were his disciples. Jesus got up, and in the midst of his disciples, during the impetuous storm, he "rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!"
The Christian faith reminds us that God can calm the storms of life that seem to overwhelm us even when we feel we can stand up in the midst. In the Book of John, chapter 16, Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
As a child, I had my own experience of the storm. I saw the storm for what it was - tremendous and wild. It messed up my plans and I felt unable to do anything except wait it out. But, in my childhood mind, I hoped that once the storm passed, the sun would once again shine and I would be able to get back to playing.
I found joy in knowing that the storm would be settled by the sun.
While we may not share similar faith traditions, or have exactly the same values, I invite you to allow the chaplains on this installation to assist you, should you need support during the storms that come up swiftly and seemingly without warning.
We are here to help build spiritual resiliency as a way to help you live life well.