Anthems of Mercy.

I am sometimes drowning, but God is wildly faithful. He keeps speaking peace and sheer mercy into my storms.

rain on the roof
photo: AIM OFM

One of my best memories of Zemio features four of us racing a storm home on foot. The sky was clearly brewing up death, the winds were pitched halfway to a hurricane. The thing to understand about our village is it’s 85% dirt, and every percent of it was airborne just then. For days after, we swabbed dust from our ears, combed it from our hair, felt it gritty in our throats. It’s still funny to me.

Kampala, too, pulls out all the stops when it comes to electrical storms. Those squalls roll in like the end of the world, shaking our teeth, dropping tallish trees that split the clay tiles on our roof. I am every time in equal parts love and clean terror.

*  *  *

A few months back I came across a photo I can’t unsee, a scene so gruesome it seared an afterimage thick on the retina of my memory. I hesitate to give details, so let’s just go with this: Pale yellow bus. Dirt road in CAR. The aftermath of an attack.

Even now, my gut instinct is God, where are You? What could possibly keep You from intervening in this horror?

storm looming over the lake
photo: AIM OFM

In Mark 4, the disciples grip a storm-wrecked boat, wind screaming along their skin and panic lining their veins. The waves sweep over them till they’re sinking within a few skinny inches of death.

Jesus is also in the boat, but minus the panic. This whole boat trip was FYI His idea, yet there He is, asleep. The disciples are reading my mind when they bellow, “Master, don’t You care that we’re perishing?”

How many times in the past twelve months have I glimpsed atrocity and thought exactly this? Actual people are dying here, and don’t You even care?

In Mark, Jesus tells the storm to cease, and reality shifts on a dime. Sudden, shocking stillness. Warmth. Quiet. Sun limning the men’s dripping silhouettes as they blink at a lucent sheet of sea.

That’s not how most of the stories go, though. John the Baptist, a picture of reckless devotion in camel’s skin (not to mention being God’s own cousin) doesn’t get bailed out of prison. Instead, John winds up beheaded. Peter is crucified. Stephen is stoned. Nearly all the apostles end up horribly martyred, and doesn’t God even care?

green & sun

The answer, of course, is of course. Look to the cross; of course He cares. We think He’s checked out, but we’re forgetting that He already settled this storm. He spoke peace into the roiling violence of humanity with His blood.

Hebrews 12 says that we’ve come to God’s city, and to Jesus, whose blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Abel’s blood spoke of jealousy and betrayal, it cried out from the stained earth for justice. Jesus’ blood speaks redemption and life in a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

He may not shift the immediate horrors blooming in CAR, Syria, Burundi. But His blood is speaking into the broader gale of death, speaking righteousness for us, singing over us an anthem of mercy.

palm trees and razor wire

I have the tendency to act as if the hour I’m inhabiting is the whole heartbreaking story. But God lives beyond the construction of time, and He’s already picked how this ends. Life swallows death whole. Broken bodies are remade. We’re alive, and exonerated, and dancing, and free, and we get Jesus for all of ever.

One of the best things about storms is how they keep me the right size. I am small. God fills the skies. He sometimes breaks my ideas and my heart, and it doesn’t even matter—so long as I end up with the treasure of Him.

Author: nic

saved by grace.

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