Photo courtesy of my friend Mark Beach
There's a storm moving in this afternoon. It looks like it is going to get dark and gloomy and things may get loud and shake a bit in my glorious digs. I have coffee brewing in my little pod-pot and I will soon have myself a cup of joe to keep this post company. I am in love with my life right now. Even with the storm, I am not afraid. I am comfortable and secure, my dogs at my feet and the movement of air on my neck. Life is good. We could use the moisture, and all that goes with it.
While I am reveling in the coming storm now, I am not always this calm. Especially when things get unpredictable. The storms that come in late summer always hold more fear for me. More tornados, more uncertainty, more volume to the build up. My life mirrors this.
There are times I see storms coming at me and I am able to sit back, make a cup of coffee and cuddle up on the couch to listen and watch as it passes. The darkness doesn't scare me and the sounds are oddly comforting instead of frightening. Then there are other times... Times when I am caught unawares as the storm sneaks up on me like a thief snatching at my purse. It is loud and raucous, dark and scary. It robs me of my peace and leaves me shivering in the bathtub with the mattress drug over my head. Those times I would do anything to shut out the noise and make the storm take another path.
So what is the difference? Why do I sometimes weather the storm with calm and other times cower in fear? It is my perspective that makes or breaks my attitude. If I am assured that the coming storm is just another storm, God is still in control and I am in communion with Him, then I can allow it to pass without drama on my part. If I have been mired in my own selfishness, my own sorrows, my own sufficiency then I am much more likely to be caught by surprise and I am fearful. When I allow myself to look elsewhere for comfort: in man, in money, in status, I am distracted from concentrating on God, my anchor in the fray. It is then that I am not sure God is in control and it is then that I am reminded, I am never in control!
Look around you. Do you know someone who is going through a storm right now and they just never seem to be shaken by it? They have a peace about them no matter what happens and something maddeningly encouraging to say in response to your questions... Yet you are not hit as hard, your problems seem small in comparison and you cannot say anything that doesn't sound like whining or ungrateful complaining. We have all done it, we all still do it, we will all do it again. It is part of the human condition. My only encouragement is this: Don't stay there! Be sad, be afraid... And then turn to the One who can make it all subside and the storm seem so small in His presence. It reminds me of Peter and his stepping out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee to walk to Christ. When he took his eyes off Jesus and realized he was out there on his own, he began to sink. That's exactly what happens to me when I think I have it all under control and I can look away from God for just a second. I sink in my own sufficiency. I cannot do it on my own!
The storm outside is coming in undulating waves, alternating quiet periods with blustery, buffeting winds. That is how our lives go as well: Moments of calm before another raucous wave of the storm. While it seems like you can't catch a break, God has promised never to leave you in the midst of the trial. He provides those moments of calm for us to take another breath and prepare for the next wave. Remember that God will not give you more than you can handle and that He sees you as waaaay more buff than you thought you were! You know what? He's right! Take His word for it and be proud that God is trusting you to weather this one with Him at your side.
The really cool thing about a good old fashioned frog-strangler is once it passes, everything is washed clean and seems brand new. The air is crisper, brighter and clearer, the grass is greener and we arrive at a new appreciation of our surroundings once the sun is shining again. Without the storms, it is terribly difficult not to take for granted the good times. I know, you think you would appreciate it just fine, but you don't. The storms grow us, provide the fodder for us to move out of our comfort zones and become what God truly wants us to be. Without them we would be stagnant, dry and fruitless.
Just like the actual weather that comes and goes with every season, there is nothing you can do about the God-granted storms in your life. So, sit back, listen for His voice among the thunder and relax. It is a storm. It will pass, you will survive. You may even have an opportunity to dance in the rain if you are lucky!