Weather Fronts

I mentioned in a post over a year ago that I’m a bit of a weather geek (see Spiritual Weather if you’re curious about that). One aspect of weather I enjoy is that it acts as a wonderful metaphor for life. For example, there are times in our lives that seem so turbulent that it feels like we’re caught in a tornado, while we just breeze through other days. The sunniest day can feel dark and dreary if we’re feeling down, while some people just have sunny dispositions.

So when you really get into weather like I do, you get a lot more fuel for life analogies. Take today’s weather for example. It might be fairly normal day for this time of year, some would say unremarkable. “Clouds and Sun; cooler” sounds about right for late September in West Michigan, but compared to yesterday’s high of 79, today is a much cooler high of 64. What do we have to thank for this change in the weather? That would be the much under-celebrated weather front. Fronts are wonderful aspects of the weather that determine what the weather will be for several days. Masses of air that are generally warm or cool, they move into an area and replace the previous mass. Look at the past week’s temps vs. the coming week’s and you’ll see the marked difference as we go from near 80’s to barely 60’s as our daytime highs. They can be thought of as “mini-seasons” as they are much shorter in duration, but in many ways govern weather over time. Where they are very different from seasons is that their entrances tend to be dramatic and tumultuous. Air masses don’t replace each other calmly, which was the reason we had such a windy evening yesterday, and areas not far from us saw fairly strong storms triggered by the coming of the new front. So where’s the analogy?

We all know there are seasons in our lives: maybe it’s our childhood or adolescence or the years we raise kids or begin our retirement. We know the coming and going of these “seasons” can be stressful, as change–by definition–is always stressful. But seasons come and go slowly. If they sneak up on us, it’s only because we’re trying hard to ignore their coming and going. Weather fronts are the opposite: they don’t announce themselves ahead of time. Being nothing more than masses of invisible air, we literally can’t see them coming. And when they come, they come suddenly and powerfully. That suddenness and power can be disruptive, but what’s important to know is they are sudden and powerful only in their arrival. We could mistake their coming by saying “here comes some stormy weather” when really the storm is just the time of change. Once the front passes, the new air mass literally settles in and things calm down. Yes, things will be different than they have been, and yes, those changes can cause stress. But once the transition is over, we have a choice: mistake the disruption of one front replacing another as heralding a stormy time or realize the storm is the transition, and that once the new front has passed through so has most of the disruption.

Life’s weather fronts can come in a wide variety of forms: getting a new job or losing one, starting a relationship or ending one, choosing a new priority or deciding to get rid of an old one. Sometimes a front can come in the form of an diagnosis of a disease and other times it can be an unexpected windfall of money. Like the weather, life keeps changing in unpredictable–and therefore stressful–ways.

Meteorologists would tell us that while weather and even climate are unpredictable, we know exactly what “governs” all of it: the sun. Every change in temperature, wind and moisture comes either as a direct result of the sun’s activity, or at least happens under its influence and governance. Simply put, everything that can happen happens “under the sun.”

Likewise, our lives are unpredictable and new fronts come and go all the time, but none of that happens outside of the SON’s influence, either from His providence: what He sends or simply what He allows. We live under the warmth of our loving God who Jesus described as the One who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). When new weather fronts come and we’re tempted to feel helpless and powerless, this is precisely the moment to remember two important truths.

First, God allows all kinds of things to happen in this world because His love for us forbids Him from controlling us and our world. “If you love someone, set them free” the saying goes, and He has. But even if He allows the storms of passing fronts to sometimes be damaging, there is no damage for which He has not already provided the repair. This includes the ultimate “damage” to our lives: death. Jesus’ death transformed all death into the opportunity for new, perfect and eternal life. So whatever new weather fronts come our way, God has already given us what we need to weather its passing and have the peace and assurance that He provides all we need in every situation.

The second truth which helps us keep our peace when fronts come and go in our lives is to remember what they are: mere changes, and temporary ones at that. They will come and they will go. There is great peace in remembering that whatever happens, just like a weather front, it too shall pass. And all of it under the warm, life-giving and all-loving source of all things, our God.