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Storm

 

*I’m taking a short break from my series on infatuation, relationships, and the sufficiency of Christ to make a post I felt pressed on my heart.  Before I begin, I just want to thank you so much for all the feedback and encouragement I’ve been getting these past few days as I’ve been working through the series.  I have messages of hope coming in from all manner of people from all manner of places and it is incredibly encouraging to know that God is actually working through these words, that He is turning my mess into a message.  I will finish it up as soon as I can, definitely sometime this week.  Please keep me in your prayers as this summer comes to a close.*

Earlier today, a severe thunderstorm rolled through town, right out of the blue, and it was a big one, a shocker, a real rattlesnake.  I later found out that the news reported up to 60 mph winds and high risk of flood and lightning strikes, advising local residents to “move into the lowest and most secure room in their homes” until further notice.

Around 1, just before the storm hit, I fell asleep for a quick nap.  I dozed off to the sun shining across my face (while listening to an interesting lecture on spiritual warfare).  When I woke up everything was dark.  The room I sat in no longer had any lights on.  A strong, steady wind was tearing through my window and beating savagely against my door.  The rain was drumming crazy time on my windowpane as I lay in bed, disoriented, trying to figure out if this was a dream.  But worst of all was the darkness.  Outside, any former trace of the sun was obscured by thick clouds.  Were there demons about?  It was terrifying.

Today was actually the first time in years that a storm scared me.

As a kid, I enjoyed thunderstorms.

My mom and I used to have this tradition we would enact whenever it stormed.  It was a bit of a secret.  My mom would tuck my sisters (and my dad) into bed, and once they were snoring safely asleep, quietly come get me from my room.  When the rest of the house finally fell completely silent, I’d hear a small tap at my door and then she’d come in grinning, looking as if we were about to pull some great heist, a flashlight in her hand and a blanket under her arm to match raised eyebrows and an eager, unquenchable smile.

“Ready?” she’d whisper.  I’d nod and then we’d be off.

Several minutes later I’d find myself wrapped in her arms, snug in a warm blanket, sitting on a swing in our backyard.  Our roof angled in such a way that we didn’t really get wet when the storms passed us by, and we took advantage of it by sitting there to watch them.

We’d watch the storm roll in and hold each other tight.  If I said I was bored, she would teach me how to count how far away we were from the center of it all.  When I jumped as the thunder clapped and the lightning rent apart the sky, she would tell me that God and the angels were just bowling.  If I shook, she would pull me closer.  When the noise and the rain got so loud that I feared for our safety, she would sing to me and swing me back and forth and tell me that God loved me.  And when I felt my eyelids start to droop and my breaths slowly lengthen she would gently carry me back inside.

I grew to love storms.

I think that one of the greatest desires of my heart is to return to the days when a storm wasn’t something to quiver about, but something to enjoy with someone you love.

A place to feel ultimate comfort and warmth and love.

A place to experience the presence of God.

We worship a God with many attributes not available to human understanding.  I so often forget how alive He is in the workings of His universe and His children.

But you can feel Him in a storm.

Storms don’t have to remind us of Satan’s destructive (and oh-so-temporary) dominion over this earth, but should call to mind the power of our Father: indeed, Christ’s own return will shamelessly include storm clouds.

Which is why it was so strange that today’s gale scared me.  I can already hear the storm echoing back towards me as it passes into the next county and, really thinking about it, I don’t know why I was so scared.

I guess I’ve just lost sight of the fact that some of my best memories have only occurred because I took advantage of a storm.

I have a life-application.  Here’s what I’m saying:

Let’s make storms into an opportunity to connect.  When the weather gets sour, let’s touch base with those we love and think especially of them.  Take the time to love someone well.  Call Grandma.  Check up on an old friend.  Curl up and watch the storm.

But if, like me, you don’t have someone in your life right now who will watch storms with you like my mother and I did (someone to be a “thunder buddy” of sorts), learn to enjoy taking the opportunity to connect with God.

It’s not like you’re going to go for a run, anyway.

So when it storms, reconnect with Him.  Last month, one of my good friends told me something really cool about Jesus: you don’t have to do anything – think a certain way or even love Him first (and He doesn’t expect you to do so at all) to earn God’s acceptance.  You have it.  Just go.

Go enjoy Him.  He died to give you a life of peace in Him, not to bind and blind you to the fatality of legalism.  The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God who created the universe actually delights in just spending time with you.  It’s crazy.  So, what the heck, talk to Him.

Think of how thrilled your parents are when you call them from college, especially after it’s been a while, even if it’s just to say hi, even if you have nothing new or exciting happening in your life.  They just like hearing your voice and want to love you until you’re so filled that you couldn’t ask for anything else.  They’re not disappointed it’s been so long since you’ve talked.  They’re overjoyed that you are now so tangibly pursuing a relationship with them that the both of you earnestly desire.

During a storm, you don’t have to go outside.  But sit for at least a minute and watch Him at work.  Thank Him for what He is doing in your life, marvel at His nature, ask Him for more faith; it’s really up to you.  I like sitting in my car (a gorgeous Toyota Sienna 2008~XLE), the engine off, hearing the rain all around me and reminding myself that I am still somehow kept completely safe and dry in the midst of this storm.  It’s the eye of the hurricane, but incredibly, by the power of my shelter, I am kept safe.

So when it storms and when the world tears itself to shreds around you, take advantage of the day to connect.  With yourself.  With someone you love.  With God.

Those are literal storms.  But we also go through some pretty rough times in our lives.  Allow me to awkwardly transition to mentioning those figurative storms, those times that terrify and damage us much more than a regular squall ever could.

No matter what storm you are going through right now, be it an April shower or a hellraiser, remember that you are ultimately safe – you’re under a strong shelter.  I don’t know your exact circumstances, but I do know that if you are a human being, the storm can be overwhelming sometimes.  The storm will push you down so far that it feels like you can’t possibly sink any lower, and then it’ll push you even further.

The storm will make you feel like if you just surrendered, if you just gave up, stripped down naked, and went out into it, that you would finally have peace.

You could be in a spring season right now.  But maybe things have really been rough lately.  Maybe the wind is beating hard against your little boat and the waves are rocking you something fierce.  Maybe you are starting to give up hope.  Maybe you can barely catch sight of Him these days.

But the storm is going to pass.

God says you are going to make it.  God says he will help you buckle in, stand firm, and hold fast during these times of crisis.  Cling to Him who has the power and the desire to work for your good.  Lean on the brothers and sisters He brings into your life.

God says peace! be still! and the storm drops dead.

The Psalmist says of the Lord “in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take shelter, till the storms of destruction pass me by.”

We are going to make it through to the other side.

So let’s choose to let storms be something we can let God work through and even look forward to.

Let’s choose to make storms into a time to experience true protection, comfort, and a growing deeper in relationships with loved ones and with the Lord.

Let’s choose to be able to look back on our lives seventy years from now and to be able to honestly say that the days that stormed the worst and seemed the darkest were actually some of the best ones we ever had.

So don’t be afraid of the dark.  Use it to help bring you closer to The Light.

You are sheltered.  You are saved.  You are being healed.  You are loved.

And remember – God is a Toyota Sienna. 

in nomine dei,

ryan

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