I was trapped at the bottom of the stairs leading into the basement of my friend’s house. At the top stood Gimli, his eyes locked on me, barking and growling, making sure I didn’t dare come up the stairs. Gimli is my friend’s dog, but today, I wasn’t a friend of his.
It was Monday morning, November 28, and I had offered to dog-sit for my friends because Gimli had to be watched 24/7. He had just had surgery and, if left alone, would bite at the stitches and re-open the wound. So I offered to help them out and have a nice, calm day of reading and making some food in their kitchen.
As I came to the house to see the family and meet the dog, everything was great. He was his happy self and didn’t make much of me. The family showed me where everything was and how to let him outside when he needed to do his business. The kids left for school, the parents left for work, and I was left with Gimli, ready to become best buds.
A few minutes after they left, Gimli started running through the house and staring at me in a weird and nervous way. I had no idea what to do, so I tried talking to him, which he apparently didn’t like. He started barking and growling, becoming more and more jumpy as I too was becoming nervous. I haven't had a whole lot of experience with huge dogs barking at me while I’m alone with them on their turf.
I remembered Gimli’s fear of the basement and quickly found my way to the stairs. He followed me and growled and barked as I scrambled for my phone to call the family. Ten minutes after they left, they had to come back to rescue me from the basement. As soon as they came back, Gimli calmed down and was nice with me again. What I thought would be a helpful act of kindness turned into a gong-show!
As comical as this experience sounds (like it did to my wife, Jess, who couldn't stop laughing), it was just one of the mishaps in one of the most stressful weeks in recent memory.
The week before, we found a leak in our basement and didn’t know where it came from. That Thursday, Jess and I got into a car accident which was my fault and made me feel horrible about myself. After dealing with all the insurance people over the next few days, it led us to Gimli-day on Monday. That evening, we found and fixed the leak in the basement which came from the bathroom sink. I went down to re-check the leak and found another one coming from the toilet. On Tuesday, I had a peanut reaction which left me with internal and external symptoms and drowsiness from Benadryl. I then had to continue through the day and meet with the Insurance company to talk about our car with swollen eyes and a burning stomach. I then found out that our car was written off and that we would need to start car shopping once again. That evening was spent fixing the toilet, or rather, watching my Father-in-law fix the toilet while I was half asleep. Jess saw a mouse running through our house on Friday morning as she was eating her breakfast. But all of that aside, our church has been caught off-guard by the very quick passing of one of our dear sisters. Everything I went through doesn’t come close to the suffering she endured and the pain of the family who was left behind.
I can’t remember the last time I had a week where I wanted to yell and punch something as much as this past one. I know that this does not compare to the things that other people go through. In fact, most of my problems are pretty much first-world problems. But it still felt like a storm and I was just waiting for something worse to happen next.
It seemed like I prayed more that week than most any other week before that. Everywhere I went I asked God to give me peace and to help me get through the storm. And somehow, without prompting, this song, written by David Adam, kept playing through my mind and finding its way to my lips:
“Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm;
still me, Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease,
enfold me, Lord, in your peace.”
This is a beautiful, powerful, and meaningful song for me. I first heard it at a denominational pastor’s gathering as we were talking about future changes coming to the structures of our church. As soon as we sung it, I knew it was one I wanted to remember. It reminds me that the God who walks with me is the same God who created and is in charge of all creation. If he can calm a raging storm, he can, for sure, calm my heart.
God never promises that He will take away the storms of life from us. We will go through hard times, whether they be first-world problems or otherwise. But what we can count on is that God will walk with us through the storm, through the valley of the shadow of death. What I love about the song is that it does not ask God to take away the storms in life. It asked God to calm us, keep us from harm, and enfold us in His peace.
I’m not sure what your Christmas looks like or what you are going through. I’m not sure if you get caught up in the business and chaos of the season. I’m not sure what storms are raging around you today. Whatever the case, my prayer is that you would know the God who walks with you through it all. Perhaps you will also be touched to make David Adam’s song your own and allow it to guide you in your prayers with God.