Typhoon Oasis

Typhoon Oasis (mp3)

I’m in a typhoon. You wouldn’t think so to look out my window. It’s been dry most of the day. I finally caught a light drizzle with my camera as pedestrians and bicyclists passed a side street intersection among the usual scooters, cars, trucks, and buses. Life is normal here on my street—calmer than normal, actually.

Fifty kilometers to the north and fifty kilometers to the south it’s been pouring cats and poodles all day. The map says I’m in a 50+ knot wind radius. Clouds look like they do in any rainy, stormy, sea weed-loaded typhoon. Local 7-Eleven’s were raided last night for their bread and snacks—a Taiwan tradition before every “big one”. The eye of the storm is even farther south of the rain south of me. But where are the wind and the rain? When will the palm trees bend to the wrath of the weather? By every rite, peace should be nowhere in sight, yet, somehow we found each other… in the midst of the storm.

Should I be surprised?

It’s a concept the Western Church seems to have forgotten, caught in our  whirlwind of “Defeatism v Domination”. Christian superstition expects to remain either small, outnumbered, and oppressed, or else superior, always “on top”, and never see a rainy day—even though rain leads to the prosperity we perpetually expect.

Call it “Poverty v Health and Wealth”. Call it the pendulum. Call it whatever-you-want. “Bounty in the Midst of Conflict” isn’t a message title we often see in Church bulletins. Maybe that’s why “outsiders” don’t want to hear our sermons—we don’t say anything much different from politicians or the entertainment cartel.

Try this: Prosperity isn’t evil, nor is it normal. Rather, prosperity is seasonal—it will typically fall between summer and winter.

The Bible is filled with illustrations of prosperity… It’s the Psalm 23 table in the presence of enemies. It’s the calm where the Lord spoke to Elijah on the mountain as he fled persecution. It’s the Kadesh Oasis. Prosperity is in the granaries of Egypt’s famine, granted through foresight and Joseph’s fear of the Lord. It’s the path through the Red Sea—safe for God’s people, yet deadly to Pharaoh’s cohorts. Prosperity is salt in the meat, a city on a hill, a lamp that’s not afraid of the darkness it overcomes, and it’s us walking on the waves of the raging sea with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Ironically, peace in the storm seems to elude the Christian mind. Maybe we’re so distracted by the storm all around us that we’ve lost our gaze on Christ. Maybe we’ve only known the storm. Maybe some of us have never known a single storm in our lives, so we don’t know that peace within a storm is calmer than the sunniest of days. Maybe we’re a clique of amateurs, arguing about something no one in the room has experienced.

Perhaps our Christian conflicts would die down if we made our dwelling in the calm of the storm. Perhaps our hungry enemies would become our friends if we offered them a seat at the Lord’s dining table—just like Jesus taught us to. Perhaps we’d do better to identify whether our P’s and Q’s come from Scripture or from culture. Or, perhaps, an unexpected calm in a West-Pacific August typhoon was an inspiration, giving a random American in Asia something to blog about.

One thing I know for sure: This is the strangest typhoon I’ve seen thus far. Should I be surprised? Heaven knows it’s no coincidence that the typhoon and I happened to be on the same Pacific isle on the same day. It’s random, poetic, and peaceful. If you want, ask God to send you your own typhoon oasis… but only if you really want a storm to find peace in the midst of.

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