Tornadoes suck. (Why not start with a bad pun?)
Cyclones, eddies, hurricanes, tempests, tornadoes, twisters, typhoons, vortices, and whirlwinds: In the middle there’s a void. A vacuum.
When they begin in the air, it’s with a clash of hot and cold systems. The cold shoves itself under the hot; the hot leapfrogs over the cold. Their push-of-war creates a rush, a cycle, a spin like a washing machine, spinning to the point that centrivical force takes over. High winds. Destruction in its wake.
And yet, in the center that void. That calm in the eye. In this case the void is a place where calm reigns in the midst of hot and cold. Hot and cold fuse not in the void but around it. It is said that one of the most frightening moments in a hurricane is the eye. Everything gets calm– too calm. Eerily calm.
What’s good in this? Where is the hope I’ve talked about so many times? First of all, in the eye, you’re midway through. If you’ve identified yourself in a Void Season (dark night of the soul or valley experience) then you’re already half done.
Jesus said that we should either be hot or cold, that if we’re lukewarm he’d spit us out. It’s true whether we’re talking about a cold drink of water or hot tea, either way we sort of want our beverages to refresh us by either cooling us off or warming us up. The void arises when hot and cold attempt to mix. You can’t slam them together and have lukewarm air without a fight, without something getting knocked about. Eventually the environment in a single place is going to get a shift. You will have a change as the storm moves through. If it was humid and hot, now it will be drier and cooler, or vice versa. Things won’t stay the same. Whatever life was like, when the storm passes, it will be different. There’s no avoiding it. In the Void experiences in life, we have this moment were everything is still. We don’t face choices — not yet. We will come out the other side of the storm with decisions to make, and those decisions will be made well if we embrace who we’re becoming while we’re in the middle. Or, at least, embrace that we’re becoming something new.
If you don’t embrace the idea that you’re changing after the store is over, that a shift is coming, you’re liable to pick up your folding chair and try to take it along with you wherever the eye of the storm moves. In other words, you stay in the place of limbo longer, rather than accepting the idea that you’ve got to get through another half of this storm before you can proceed. Once the storm passes, you’ll take stock of your surroundings. Perhaps some things will be left untouched. Other things will be knocked down, some of them unrecognizable. It’s a chance to start fresh. I’m not saying it’s not scary. I know it’s terrifying! But the only way to find out what the landscape looks like and how that’s going to change your life is to move through the second half.
The Void can last a long time. Sometimes people prolong it by trying to stay in the middle of the Eye. Counter-intuitive as it may sound, it’s really quite comfortable in spite of its emptiness and eeriness. At least, in the Eye, we don’t have to face the future too much.
What’s God doing in the Void, in the Eye? He’s fusing hot and cold. Because eventually they will mix together. Not so that you can be lukewarm, but the storm doesn’t last. Storms play out. The hot and cold mixed, things settle down. God’s fusing things we can’t see while we sit in the middle of a crazy wind and listen.
In fact, God is in the Void with us, as Elijah discovered:
“Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:12)
Elijah then catalogs his feats. And God ignores them. All the instructions Elijah gets from God at this point involve sweeping reform. He’s instructed to crown two new kings and his successor is selected. What was God doing in the middle of all that storm? He was shuffling the deck. And He didn’t particularly care what Elijah’s track record was. It was time for something new.
We expect that in the Void God is out there throwing earthquakes around, when really he’s sitting right inside it watching to see whom we’re becoming. And He’s shuffling the deck. Be ready to have your track record ignored. It’s not because we serve an unloving God, it’s just that change is inevitable after the Void. Embrace that. A new day is coming.