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The Storm

The Storm

Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:26, 27 NLT)

In fact the word Jesus used for rebuke means to esteem, place value upon – to show honor to, to honor: to raise the price and value of others. While it does mean to rebuke — in order to curb someone’s ferocity or violence it is based on the idea of honor.

There are always great lessons to be learned about life from a storm. While I was meditating on the storms we face The Lord said to me “there is always peace on either side of the storm. Don’t be surprised, and don’t be afraid, your storm has value and will end”!

I have met people before their storm who say, ‘life was good’, ‘everything’ was going so well’, ‘I was in such a good place’!

I have looked into the tear-filled eyes, and the soul of others who are at the eye of their storm and seen the brokenness and the seemingly destructive forces of the winds of adversity and the waves of calamity tossing them about relentlessly it seems.

And then I have observed with joy the  serenity and calm of those who have weathered the storm and come through into calm waters, into fresh winds of a new season, full of vigor and passion to charter yet another stage of this incredibly exciting journey, or rather adventure of life.

BEFORE THE STORM
…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for  His good pleasure. (NASB)
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

If you’re in a good place just know that God is preparing, strengthening, settling, stabilizing you for what lies ahead. Never forget that as you navigate through life the road you travel may present you with unexpected challenges. God always prepares us for what lies ahead. Sure He loves surprising us in good ways, but sometimes we are surprised by the very thing that looks hazardous and difficult but He intends for our good.

If it wasn’t for an encounter I had with God in August 2011, I don’t know how I would have coped and handled the storm I was in right then. God knew that He would need to bolster my faith, help clear my thinking, change my heart and do His work in me then, necessary for now. Think back on a more recent time, experience or season in your life when all was looking good and going well. That was the before-the-storm preparation time.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12 NLT)

Song writer and singer and friend of mine, Larnelle Harris wrote these words in a song entitled, “If Not For The Storm”
If all I had were blue skies
And days of perfect peace
Always sailing smoothly over
Gentle, quiet seas

There’s so much about You
I might have never known
But I have faced the wind and waves
And I see how faith has grown.

He has already chartered the course before you…done a reconnaissance of the path, people, the plots, plans and circumstances that await you and will prepare you for what lies ahead. He is equipping you for the passage and eye of the storm.

It’s the ‘before the storm’ kind of peace that enables you to face and endure the storm and it’s the love and wisdom of our God that allows us to know and experience that kind of peace.

You need a steady, steadfast, confident heart to face the storm. Psalms 108:1 (NCV) God, my heart is steady. I will sing and praise you with all my being.
Find it in Him today.

IN THE STORM
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! (Psalm 61:1, 2, 4 NLT)

It’s difficult to keep perspective in the storm; one of the first things to go is our ability to ‘be in charge; to be in control’. With the rising noise of voices – opinions and even accusations we soon lose perspective, but it’s at that very place and in that time God is teaching us, to recognize and to know His voice. It’s the only one that somehow reminds us of our seemingly lost and distant peace. There are certain things we read, and hear people say to us in the storm that resonate with the love, compassion and the purposes of God, and we know, “this is God”. “He’s trying to show me something, teach me something”.

And then there’s the constant movement and shifting of almost everything it seems. The peace it seemed we had is progressively replaced with a quicken pace of conditions and situations that we feel totally unprepared for. The anchor and strength we thought we had in the calm is tugged on relentlessly, trying to carry us away, to rip us away from that safe place, that known place, albeit an artificial safety, at least it’s one we’re familiar with.

The storm though is Gods way of testing our tie and connection to Him. It is also a test for us to see what is in our hearts, and for flashing fleeting moments it looks as if these two things are attached to and ripping our very heart apart. We feel exposed, vulnerable, afraid. Where is the anchor we would so proudly hold up as a trophy in our time of peace and speak of with such passion? Why does my steady heart hurt so much. I thought I was whole, and in control?

But it’s in this time too that God is shaking off all of the securities we thought we had and showing us that these were actually insecurities we have come to treasure and nurture. I have found myself having to release and let go in this long, large storm of my life. Things I thought He and I had built together. Let go of people I thought were helping me navigate this journey of life and that I couldn’t do without. And now I realize that they were not really on the journey but were actually frustrating the purposes and plans of God. It is the storm that gets us out of the place of comfort and into place of confront where we find ourselves making some of the ‘necessary endings’ we maybe should have made before.

We think in the confusion and turmoil at the time that we are making irrational, ungodly choices, but it is often the only way this loving God can achieve His purpose for us and plan through us. And He knows all too well we only live one life!

Doesn’t it seem like we pass this place in the storm over and over again? As if we haven’t been here before? This is God’s way of confirming to us often through repetition the areas we need to let go.

Some more of the lyrics from the song written and sung by my friend Larnelle Harris, If Not For The Storms.

If not for the storms
I couldn’t say that You’re my shelter
If not for the storms
I would have never known Your strength
I found You so faithful
Through all that You allowed
If not for the storms
There’s no way I’d know You
As I know You now

A shepherd strong and tender
I’d only read about
Met me in the middle of
My moments filled with doubt

A provider, a protector
A friend who knew my need
There’s so much I can tell of who
You’ve proved yourself to be

He is in your storm with you. While you find it hard to believe with a faith so stretched, He is guiding you, providing for you, and protecting you. He loves you. Remember storms do end and there is calm after the storm!

AFTER THE STORM
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:38-41 NLT)

Just assuredly as there is peace, or a lull before the storm, there comes a time when the contrary winds of adversity and turmoil of a life-storm that have blown relentlessly, lose their ferocity. The noise outside together with the noise inside slowly does die down with the final crack of lightning breaking the storm.

How do I know? Because I have been through many storms. I have been caught up in the fringes and looked into the the terrifying eye of the storm of loss, and seen its snarling, ugly face more than once. This face wears many masks, the ugliest of which is death. Not only have I walked through this cold, dark valley with many broken people, but have weathered the storm of losing a nine month old child, a son, as a young father. I thought it would never end, but it did! And I am able to look back at that storm and see how the hand of the great shepherd walked and carried me through that pain-filled valley and pronounced peace and calm to my waves of sorrow and grief. Why won’t He do it for you?

I have looked into the snarling face of severe financial loss more than once, and sadly when I thought I was being so noble and so giving and sowing into the kingdom of God and the lives of others. This is a deep pain that strains at relationships and seeks to blame and divide. I will write about these stories in the book, Navigating Life (this article, and the last three in the series are concepts that will be in the book).

I have looked into the cold, lifeless face of broken relationship. This face is most deeply connected to the heart. The storms that finally break those ties are the most ferocious and unrelenting and swirl and churn into the deep recesses of the human heart and soul…but they too end and find God’s peace.

Besides the obvious destruction and debris left in the wake and path of a storm, and as you painstakingly try to make sense and find reason sifting through the clutter, you will discover in time that there is another path that has been worn into your heart and soul during this painful time. It is a path of empathy, of compassion, of understanding and of character. There is nothing but a storm that can produce these qualities so profusely in your life. No amount of studying God’s word and confessing it, while that is so necessary to strengthen your anchor, will bring about such strengths deep within you.

There was a storm last night where I live. It wasn’t anywhere near the magnitude of some of the life-storms I have experienced but there was lightning, thunder, and rain, and lots of it. I soon became aware that it was no sooner here than it was gone, and the feint rumblings and odd flash in the sky a reminder that we had been in a storm.

There is an after the storm, and it’s filled with peace, and filled with God. Listen for the commanding, calming voice of Jesus in your storm. May a great calm come to your life. The wind and the waves still obey Him!