Saturday, February 1, 2014
The summer of 1987 I was working in an inner-city mission in Houston, Texas. Oh, the lessons I learned that summer as we worked with gangs, poverty, and the hard-ships of inner-city life. It was one of the best times of my life! On the wall in one of our centers was a poster like the one on this blog. I can't even begin to count the number of times in my life that the words have run through my mind. While it has ministered to me countless times, I have to say that in the past week it has been a great reality. So many times this week I have looked at the storm around me and wondered how in the world can I feel so calm? I know it isn't coming from me. It is something much larger at work. I began to ask myself this question, "What have you learned from the storm this week?" Here are some of my answers:
1) God loves me with an indescribable, unbelievably passionate, totally personal, all sufficient love---and He does you, too. Over and over this week he has been whispering directly in my ear his words of affection. It is as though the songs on the radio have been a playlist straight from him. The morning and evening sky have been precious gifts to remind me He loves me and is a beautiful creator who cares deeply about His creations. His answer to prayers great and small have been overwhelming. He has connected me with people at just the right moments to impact my life (and hopefully theirs) in the most significant ways. He doesn't just care about the masses. He cares about the individuals. I am his daughter and he adores me.
2) God has prepared in advance all we would need to survive this storm. During this last year so many of you have been so faithful to pray and encourage us. I honestly don't think we would have survived this long without you. I had the neatest experience in the last week or so as I discovered that one of my great prayer partners is actually family. A dear man, David Ritter (who is a survivor himself) has sent me bible verses every morning during the past year. His daughter is a friend. Their family has prayed consistently for us. His wife messaged me this week to as if I was related to Mastens in Plainview. As we talked we discovered that her grandfather and mine were half brothers. They have prayed for me for so long and now we discover that we were connected generations ago. I have heard it said that God goes before us and stands behind. I know that he has gone before me to clear my path and build supports for the rough times. He walks the path with me daily and is behind me all the way!
3) Storms can be beautiful. Have you ever gone out on your backporch just to sit and watch a storm? (If you live in West Texas I KNOW you have!) My son Spencer and I love to go sit on the backporch under blankets and watch the lightning streak across the sky. Our hearts pound a little harder when we hear the claps of thunder. The rain falling refreshes our senses. The time we spend together as we weather the storm draws us closer together. Which leads me to my next precious lesson.
3) God uses us to lift up and encourage one another. Just as Spencer and I draw closer as we weather storms together, so do you and I as we weather the proverbial storms of life together. You bring peace and encouragement to me. Your prayers, cards, "AS IF" nods, and messages have meant more than you will ever know. I am so blessed by you! Never for a moment underestimate the influence you have in the lives of others. Your prayers are the air we breathe!
4) Final lesson- Like the storms in West Texas, the storms of life are strong when they come, but they pass; they are unpredictable, but they are certain; they can be destructive, but they bring new life; they are dark in the moment, but they are followed by a rainbow. I am in the midst of a storm, but I am choosing faith over fear. As the thunder rolls, I am reminding myself they will pass. As the wind seems to be trying to destroy pieces of my life, I am focusing on the new life I am given each day. When the darkness seems to roll in, I remember the sun is ALWAYS present, even when it is out of view. This too shall pass.
I grow frustrated once again with myself as I recognize how much more in tune I am to God and his lessons in bad times. I want to be so close to him that it doesn't take storms for me to cling to his presence. Are you the same way? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God whispered in each of our ears this week. He orchestrated moments to reveal himself to all of us. He was waiting to meet us on the "back porch", but maybe since there wasn't a storm you didn't have time to sit down with him. My prayer is that we all grow better at clinging to God on the clear days so that we know what to do in the storms. I pray that we will know the SON so well from the bright days, that we know He is still there on the dark ones!
Thank you again for joining me in my storm. I know you don't have to, but I am so glad you do!
For God's Glory!