Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Praising God Through the Storm


And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

--"Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns

 It has been a stormy summer for us. I'm talking about the kind of storms that roll in, shake your faith and leave you reeling in their wake. We've had a few of those this summer and they are expensive, both financially and mentally. Here's a few:

#1: After returning from vacation, both air conditioners are broken. Tab-$800.
#2: Husband's college summer classes and financing fall through. This pushes back his graduation   and degree to yet another added semester.
#3: My father's fragile health takes a turn for the worst. Between hospital stays and hospice interviews we are pureeing food and battling his dementia.
#4: Air conditioner breaks again- a different part. Coolant needed. 
#5: Truck won't pass inspection without tires. Tab to fix: $90
#6: Truck breaks down. Tab to fix:  $430 
#7: Truck breaks down again,on the way to church- different part: Tab to fix: $200
#8: Car tire shreds to pieces, new tires needed. Tab to fix: $90
#9: Today I faced the cold hard facts. Novel won't be ready for ACFW pitching. Another year of waiting. 

      God is working on me. He's training me to follow Him through the storms and not rely my own instinct to cower, hide and dive for the cover of my own self-pity. I'm learning to praise Him in the bad times.

    Through all the storms of my life, He's been holding out His hand and offering the umbrella of his love, yet I've stood there and argued with him while the lightning flashes overhead. I planted my feet and scream my anger over the booming thunder, "Why are you letting this happen, again? Why don't you do something?" I know my usual routine, for I have been here before. Sink to my knees, cry out ranting accusations and then wallow in the mud around me.

    This time when the storms hit, I kept my eyes on Him and His outstretched hand.That's when I saw it-- a heart-wrenching sadness filled His eyes and I wasn't sure if tears or raindrops were falling on His cheeks. With the zap of the next lightning bolt, His pain was transferred to my heart and it's intensity yanked the air from my lungs. His heart was breaking at my refusal to follow him, breaking for me. I stood there, transfixed, as beyond him, a dawning light grew brighter. Then I suddenly understood what He was trying to do . . . what He had always been doing.

     He knew the way out of this storm. Out of all of the storms.

     He called my name and beckoned me to his side. All I had to do was take that first step, but I hesitated. I didn't want to relinquish control of my life, control of my destiny. I'm used to being the leader, the one in charge and I like that role. I've got goals and dreams and I know how to get there. On my path.

     If I followed Him once, would I have to do it again? What if His way wasn't better?

    A suffocating Darkness settled  around us as the raindrops pelted my skin.Still, he waited. My drenched clothing weighed me down and a bone-chilling cold crept through my body. Doing things my way was painful. It hurt. Worst of all, it always had the same dreary consequences.

    Once more God called my name. I raised my eyes to find both His arms wide open. The love in his gaze poured through me like warm honey and all fight left me. I surrendered my will in that moment, and I took that first step. A smile lifted the corners of His mouth. I took another step and light danced in His eyes. A few more steps and I heard the sound of His laughter. He swept me into His arms and His warmth radiated through every fiber in my being.

    The storm raged on around us, but we were trudging through it together. The cold didn't numb me, my soaked clothing doesn't drag me down, self-pity doesn't keep my feet mired in the mud. I am His and He is mine. I sing his praises over the wind and the rain. The louder I sing and the more I praise, the lighter the sky becomes. Off in the distance, there is one more faint rumble of thunder and the sun's rays return. Now, I can see the silver linings He has provided along the way:

#1 and #4-Repair man felt sorry for us and adds coolant for free. After prayer, leak stops by itself.
#2: Husband was able to quickly find a job for the summer.
#3: We are taking things day-by-day. Church members are praying and extended family members have offered their help to us.
#5; Able to find good, used tires.
#6: Husband happens to sign up for a new credit card the month before. Able to charge expenses.
#7: Originally quoted $1200 price. After I prayed, mechanic said he took a second look and the problem wasn't what he thought it was. Didn't charge for labor, only the part.
#8: Daughter was driving home from college and reported the car shaking. Upon inspection, a miracle she made it home on that tire.
#9: This is God's book. When He is ready, the doors will open.

"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." II Corinthians 12:10

Your Turn: What Storms are you facing today? Have you invited God's umbrella of love to cover you? Sing His praises and be ready for His blessings.