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Archive for the tag “Storms in Life”

The Forecast

We have been watching and anxiously waiting for this storm for a week. Weather forecasters said it was going to be catastrophic. As I type these words, the wind has just started to stir the trees. The rain hasn’t started yet, but we know it will come. As the newscasters were commenting on the possibilities of the storm, I grew more anxious. When they started forecasting the storm, the path was coming right for me. Do I stay or do I go? But as I began to prepare, I felt more at peace with my decision to stay. The line is still uncertain. God is the only one who knows the path this storm will take. Rain and wind will come – that much is certain – it’s just a matter of how much. It’s a big storm and nowhere in this state will remain dry.

In the past, I have had leaks in the bathroom vent and in the front bedroom windows. My garage door also has areas the water flows through. The rain has to be at the right angles for these places to leak. I think I have fixed each place, but with the forecasted rain I’ll see how well the fix holds. I have prepared the best I could. I searched out bottled water, batteries and gasoline for the car. I happened to be at the right place at the right time to get those items I needed without too much waiting. Timing is everything, right? And the praying is nonstop. I have wanted to see God’s power again – I asked for it in last week’s blog posting. Do it again – that’s what I wrote. But a hurricane is not what I had in mind.

I asked God to send the storm to the middle of the ocean. God has allowed this storm to move closer. I asked God to calm the winds. This morning the hurricane is now a Category 2; down from a Cat 4. Thank you Lord! I have asked for God’s protection during this storm. He’s done that before. We had a tornado to rip through my neighborhood seven and half years ago. It was like God’s hand was placed over my house. I had very little damage where the rest of the neighborhood homes had some significant damage. Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say my prayers were better than my neighbors. I’m just saying God protected me in the storm. This is His house and if He wants to destroy it, then so be it.

There were other times when hurricanes have blown through my state. Every time, I have been outside of its devastating effects. When Fran blew through my city a little over twenty years ago, I was living elsewhere. Hugo had an impact on Charlotte a year before I moved to that city. Then there was Floyd and Matthew again hitting in places where I was not located. God has watched over me – not because of my goodness, but because of His. It has nothing to do with me. It’s just timing is everything.

I look to Him when I get anxious and wait for His timing. I never move until He tells me to go. Some say I need to just move and God will go with me. But I believe God’s ways are best. If He wants me somewhere specific, then I know He will get me there at just the right time. It’s not because of who I am, but because of whose I am. God has told us in Scripture – He will never leave us or forsake us – and I believe His Word. I believe Jesus can calm the storm – He’s done it before and I believe He can do it again. I don’t doubt that He can calm a storm; but it’s a matter of if He will.

As the tornado blew through the neighborhood, I was crotched in my closet praying on my knees to keep me safe. And He did. When I got up, my knees were shaky. I looked out my windows and saw trees down, but not a one on my house. God is infinitely powerful and deeply personal. I believe it. I have witnessed His hand of protection. And I believe He will do it again. But if He does not, His ways are best and I trust Him with everything. I am at peace.

My knees may shake when the wind drives the rain into my vulnerable places, but God is always with me. I can always lean upon Him – not because of who I am, but because of whose I am. You can lean upon Him too. He is infinitely powerful and deeply personal. Believe it and watch Him at work through your storm too. He is forecasted to be for us and not against us. That’s the path we can count on!

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s get in a boat and go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail. Soon Jesus fell asleep. The wind rose, and the fierce wind became a violent squall that threatened to swamp their boat. So the disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Master, Master, we’re sinking! Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

With great authority Jesus rebuked the howling wind and surging waves, and instantly they stopped and became as smooth as glass. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? Have you lost your faith in me?”

Shocked and shaken, they said with amazement to one another, “Who is this man who has authority over winds and waves that they obey him?” Luke 8:23-25 (TPT)

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Storm Alert

All week I have heard about this approaching storm called Matthew. Most of the spaghetti models were keeping it well out to sea. However, information changed Tuesday afternoon. I was on the rowing machine at the gym when I looked up to the television and noticed most of those spaghetti models had the storm tracking right between North and South Carolina.

I have lived in North Carolina all my life. North Carolina has had its share of dangerous storms that either make landfall or just impact the outer banks. Somehow I have managed to miss every hurricane that has come ashore. Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999 with a glancing blow to the coast but circled back to cause major flooding in the eastern portion of North Carolina. Fran was another one that devastated North Carolina in 1996. And Hugo came ashore in South Carolina but traveled right up through the central part of my state.

Every time hurricanes came through, I had either just moved out of that area or moved into the area after the storm had passed. I must say when I saw the forecast for later this week, I grew a bit concerned; will I have to ride this one out? While I was watching the television as I was rowing along, I saw this storm’s path being directed by two different weather patterns that puts the storm at a direct aim on the border. There’s a low dropping from the northwest to arrive around Friday and a high that will be circulating in the Atlantic Ocean that will cause a funnel to develop right toward the border of our two great states. The forecast could change at any time. Only God knows the track it will take.

On Monday morning, I read in Matthew 8 about Jesus calming the storm with His spoken word. The disciples were amazed that even the wind and waves obeyed Him (8:27). The storm came upon them unexpectedly. Most of these men were fishermen who had weathered many a storm. But this time, Jesus was in the boat. The waves were sweeping over the boat. They were afraid of drowning. I am not a swimmer, so I would be terrified too. When they woke Jesus, He questioned their faith. What? Why their faith?

I believe the storms in our lives are about our faith. There is a purpose to the storms we face. Storms help us grow closer to Jesus. Those are the times we reach out to Him and ask for a calming presence to fill us so that we can ride it out. He will see us to the other side of it. We are not meant to stay in the storm – we are meant to go through it with Jesus.

James MacDonald’s message from this past weekend was about the prayer of faith. He said “faith is believing in the Word of God and acting upon it, no matter how I feel, because God promises a good result.” His message was from Mark 5:21-43 – one of my favorite passages. Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter and a woman with a bleeding problem. Both of these healing accounts were brought to Jesus from a kneeling position. Jairus fell at His feet and pleaded earnestly with Him (5:22-23). Jesus noticed healing power had left Him; He searched for the one who had been healed. The woman fell at his feet trembling with fear and told Him the whole truth (5:33).

I believe this is significant to us when we are in those storms in life. We can look to the One who calms the storms with just a spoken word. He may not take us out of the storm but will see us through it. We might not get an immediate healing or our loved one released from death. But we can always take it up with Jesus from a humble position knowing He has the answer we seek. Pastor James commented that “Delay is not a denial – we pray God’s will, God’s way, in God’s time.” His main point was this: “Faith that acts, asks, and endures – get’s answered.” Maybe our faith is like the disciples’ faith in that boat – it’s a little small; take it to Him and don’t be afraid, just believe. Ignore the facts; face the truth; Jesus is our answer.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. Hebrews 12:2-3 (NLT)

Preparation

On Memorial Day, I was outside cleaning up around my house and made a few observations as I was cleaning up weeds. A few years ago (maybe ten years or so), I removed all the grass and put in mulch on one side of my house. It was a shady area. There were a couple of trees on my side of the property line and two large cedar trees on my neighbor’s side. As the years went along, the trees got really big and became a real problem for me. It kept the siding on the house from getting sunshine which led to mold and mildew being a real nuisance.

I have issues concerning the trees around my house. My house was struck by lightning when I first moved in. It hit one of the trees on that side of the house and ricocheted to my house. I have been wanting all the trees down since then. I finally got the trees down on my side about three years ago. So what do I do about my neighbor’s trees? Well, I prayed for God to remove them. I know, trivial things to pray about, but I prayed anyway. In hindsight, it was a really good thing for me to cut my trees down because God answered my prayer in a very big way.

In April, 2011, a tornado made its way through my city and across my neighborhood. Those two cedar trees were laid down perfectly between my house and my neighbor’s. If the other trees had been there, they might have ended up on top of my house (right where I would have been kneeling in my closet). I believe God prompted me to get those trees taken down. I even had done some major work on my house the year before and trust that too was in preparation for the storm to come. This was not how I expected God to answer my prayer for my tree problem. But He had prepared me in a large way for the storm to come. I had done the work I knew to do in advance of what God was going to do.

I see this too as a metaphor for spiritual storms. There are things I need to be doing in order to be prepared for the storms that will come in my life. I need to be strong in the Word. I need to be on my knees praying diligently for the things I know to be praying for. There are many preparations before the storms arrive, and they will come.

As I was pulling weeds on Memorial Day, I was reminded of my prayer. I prayed for the removal of the trees and now I have weeds. Nothing had grown on that side of the house for years, but now that it’s sunny and weeds flourish. The house is no longer moldy and mildewed, but the paint is fading fast. Whether it is sunny or shady, there are always issues to deal with. Either way, there is work to do. Time spent in preparation is essential to be ready for whatever storm comes my way.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34

Calm in the Storm

In the last few weeks, God has been pressing upon me about suffering, about pain and about storms. I don’t know why yet, but He is preparing me for something. In the midst of these impressions, I experienced a tropical storm named Andrea. My family and I were at the beach for our annual vacation. For the last twenty-three years, we have gathered at the beach under one roof to enjoy a time together and have a restful (so to speak) vacation. I look forward to those trips. Each year has been a different experience, and this year proved just as different. We have never encountered such a storm at the beach.

I experienced another tropical storm in Houston years ago. There was massive flooding and winds rocked the hotel where I was staying. I really didn’t get the full effects of the storm since I didn’t really go outside during it. The storm I experienced at the beach was completely different. My nephews went out to the beach in the middle of the wind and rain to see the waves. I stayed at home in complete safety until the rain subsided, and the sun was shining. I went out at that point to walk the beach. The winds were still active, and the waves were in turmoil. I held my camera as steady as I could while I was snapping pictures of the waves, and the sea grass bending in the wind. It was an awesome sight. As I was walking along, I had the sense of the wind to my back pushing me forward. But when I turned around, the winds were against me, and I looked up to see a dark cloud before me. I had no idea the cloud was behind me as I was walking along, but the minute I turned around I knew I wasn’t going to make it back to the beach house without getting wet.

It wasn’t until I was back at my home and was contemplating what God was impressing upon me that I found a new perspective on the storms in life. In the midst of the tropical storm I was experiencing peace – whether in the house or out on the beach. I knew God was right there with me. There was no time in the storm that I felt afraid, even during the night when the wind and rain were beating against the house. Whatever God is impressing upon me about suffering, pain and storms whether it’s on the upcoming mission trip or whatever happens next, God is with me in it. He will never leave me in the storm, but will offer me a sense of His peace. My eyes have to be focused on the right thing – not on the waves and wind – but on Jesus in the midst of the storm. When Jesus calls me to cross a great divide, He will protect me to get me to the other side!

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. Luke 8:22-25

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