The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8
Yesterday morning dawned dark and stormy. I rose to greet the day with a mood to match the ominous clouds outside. All of my insecurities arose with me that morning, rolling across my mind like the thunder outside. You’ve failed…You’re going to fail…You won’t be successful…Don’t try…Don’t strive…You’re not good enough…Give up your dreams/ambitions/desires…Don’t reach for anything more…
And so I sat down…in the middle of my kitchen floor…on the little step-stool I use when reading my Bible in the morning. Hugging my Bible to my chest, I poured out all of my tumultuous thoughts before God, big fat drops of doubt and fear splashing down before the One who knows a thought before it enters my mind.
“I can’t do it,” I said. “I’m not talented enough. I’m not cool enough. I’m never going to sell a book. This women’s ministry is never going to get off the ground. I’m just going to be underemployed my entire life, so you can have my dreams back and I’ll just go be average and never dream about anything again.”
I lowered my Bible to my lap and opened it to where I had left off in the book of Acts the day before. Secretly, I was hoping for some divine promise to wend it’s way like a lightning bolt straight from the page to my soul– some reassurance that all was going to be fine, that my fears and insecurities were unfounded and that God was going to take care of everything and we’d have a nice 30 second soundbite worthy of K-Love’s encouraging story of the day.
The truth is, God and I have never really had that kind of relationship. In my life, God often waits through the storm, letting the winds whirl and swirl around me–a quiet Presence standing still as the front passes by. God is okay with me getting a little windblown and wet. Perhaps he feels it builds faith.
After reading a bit, I stood up from the little step stool, pushing back the clouds that threatened to engulf me. I went through my morning routine, making lunches, getting boys up and dressed, digging out a broken umbrella for car rider duty at school. And while the storm hadn’t completely moved on, God’s presence was like my little broken umbrella. It kept me dry enough.
I pressed on through my work, giving my students the best of my abilities, providing encouragement when needed, but remaining quiet and still as students worked to problem-solve unfamiliar words. As I was was coaching my kiddos through the rough waters of reading, it occurred to me that sometimes, we need God to be silent in the midst of our own personal storms. Because if God stilled all of our storms, then we would never grow. We would never grow in our faith. We would never grow in our hope. We would never grow in our strength. And we would never grow closer to him who gives us strength.
By the end of that gray and stormy day, the sun was shining in a cornflower blue sky. Huge, fluffy white clouds perched on the horizon. And I heard, once my own storm of doubt and insecurity had passed by, God speaking into the bright clear blue.
You know, whatever you pursue or don’t pursue is your choice.
I gave you gifts and talents. It’s up to you to decide what you do with them.
But consider this: you and I communicate a lot through those gifts.
Whether or not you choose to make a career of them doesn’t matter to me.
What matters is that you do them, because it’s how we talk.
And as long as we’re talking, you’re not a failure.
As long as we’re talking, you’re doing exactly what I designed you to do.
There are always going to be stormy days. It’s a natural part of life. And, if we’re willing, those storms can serve a tremendous purpose. Those storms, which the Enemy so hopes will destroy us, will actually make us stronger. Because even though it might feel like we’re being buffeted along by the wind, God is there all the time. His love and his peace act as an umbrella over us, protecting us as the storm passes by.
I don’t know what your personal storm is today. Maybe it’s your marriage, your career, your children or your health. Maybe you struggle with insecurity and doubt like me. Perhaps you’ve been waiting/longing/begging God to shout “Be STILL!” to the wind that howls all around you.
But, what if God is whispering, “be still” to you? What if he’s asking you to weather the storm? Or, an even scarier thought, to walk through it?
I think that the sun looks more radiant after a storm. The earth seems fresher somehow–cleansed and rejuvenated. The grass sparkles, there are rainbows on the pavement, and there are puddles to gleefully play in. There is promise, there is possibility, there is joy.
And we would never find any of it if we hadn’t been through the storm.
Blessings and Peace,