Let’s talk about the weather. Have you ever had a storm ruin a perfectly good day at the beach? Instead of sunning on the sand you sulked on the sofa, watching the last hours of your vacation drizzle away in a grey fog. Why doesn’t God make every day blue skies and sunshine?
But weather’s a funny thing. Have you ever had a sunshine ruin a perfectly good rainy day to stay inside and not mow the lawn? Okay, that probably hasn’t happened since you were 14 – but you can easily imagine a scenario where rain, not sun, is the desired weather condition. There’s Murphy’s Law, as it relates to weather: we wish for sunny days, and get rain. We hope for rain as a good excuse for inactivity, and get sunshine instead. “That’s the weather for you,” we say, and shrug our shoulders and move on.
But there’s a value system imbedded in the whole Murphy’s Law-weather conundrum. It’s so common and universal we almost never notice it. Subtly, unobtrusively, but persuasively, it says, “A stormy day is bad if it interferes with my plans; it is good if it furthers my plans.” Do you see the value system, the assumed point of reference? Me. My plans. This is my universe, and everything in it must bow to me!
Okay, that’s probably a bit extreme. Most of us don’t take our gripes about the weather quite that far. But the pattern prevails: I rank external circumstances – sadly, even people – by whether they serve me or hinder me. Don’t you?
The problem is that such a way of looking at the world will frustrate us (since we all do this, you have seven billion competitors all attempting to run the world to the beat of their own drum) and lead us to an empty, vain life. Actually, even that’s not the ultimate problem. The ultimate problem is that seeing the world through this lens puts us on a collision course with the One who does rule all things for his purposes.
There’s a better way, the way of the creature before our Creator. C.S. Lewis was learning this even before he became a Christian:
The first lifelong friend I made at Oxford was A. K. Hamilton Jenkin…He continued…my education as a seeing, listening, smelling, receptive creature…Jenkin seemed able to enjoy everything; even ugliness. I learned from him that we should attempt a total surrender to whatever atmosphere was offering itself at the moment; in a squalid town to seek out those very places where its squalor rose to grimness and almost grandeur, on a dismal day to find the most dismal and dripping wood, on a windy day to seek the windiest ridge… [to have] a serious, yet gleeful, determination to rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being (so magnificently) what it was.
“To rejoice in its being (so magnificently) what it was.” I don’t know if Jenkin was a Christian, but that’s a Christian virtue. This world is God’s world, not ours. God delights in the windy-ness of the wind and the stormy-ness of the storm just as much as he does the sunniness of the sun. And he invites us to share in his delight – not to assign value to his creation based on whether it fits our plans.
That’s not to say you can’t ask for sunshine for your beach vacation. But here’s a thought. The next time the weather doesn’t cooperate, when the storm clouds ruin your plans, find a way to “rub your nose” in the storm, delighting in its stormy-ness. Then we can say with the psalmist,
“O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all” (Psalm 104:24).
Even the storms.
Photo by USFWS.