Hundreds of miles wide in its swath of destruction you have no hopes of outrunning or outmaneuvering it. It’s as though Jupiter’s red spot were condensed, concentrated, amplified and transported to earth. The rain falls fat and thick; so thick the atmosphere seems an ocean. Breathing is imagined to be an impossible labor in the midst of this storm. That’s assuming you would even be allowed time enough to take a breath. Hail stones the size of boulders fall with such force they are splintering redwoods. Deep purple and wickedly splintering lightning bolts strike repeatedly within mere feet of one another. Families of F5 tornadoes populate the storm liberally, like hordes of Okies fleeing in the midst of the Dust Bowl.
Yet in your blind terror you find an enchanted cave, or rather it is almost as if it found you. There is as it were an invisible barrier that the storm cannot pass. This does not cause you to belittle or mock the storm. You still fear it. It is your dread. But now your fear is mixed with delight. The cave both allows you to reverence the storm more, for now you more fully can observe its glory, and to delight in it more for you can observe all of this in complete safety. Fear has not been eradicated but transformed into that holy love called reverence. One deep mark of this reverence is a rejoicing and delighting in the cave.
This cleft is Christ, and the storm is the glory of God’s holiness. But Jesus has promised that as we identify with Him we will be persecuted. In this cave there is a serpent. He is a wounded serpent. He is a dying serpent. But He is a dangerous serpent, and he has minions. The whole world is under his sway. But you dare not flee the snake to take your chances with the storm, for you know this; the snake could never defeat the the storm, but the storm has already mostly done in the snake, and is sure to finish the job.
If you love the cleft of Jesus, and reverence the storm of God’s holiness you will not be afraid of the serpent’s threats.
[Adapted from an illustration in The Pleasures of God by John Piper]