“Now imagine a storm. What does it look like? Is it close? Is it far away?”
We played this game this summer where you imagine a desert, and a box, and other objects with the end goal of it describing your personality, relationships, and struggles in your life. One person would close his or her eyes and another would give them instructions about what to imagine. When you got to describing the weather in your scenario, if was supposed to describe the storms and trials in your own life. Now games like this are always hit or miss. Some parts about them are spot on and some are so far off you just laugh. I remember when I participated in this little game I imagined a storm out on the horizon. Maybe building, maybe powerful, but in the distance. It was that analogy that I thought of this week.
A couple weeks ago some friends and I were talking about what season of life we were in: trial, teaching, or triumph. I pegged myself as in triumph moving towards teaching. I’d just come out of a summer of having a ton about God and myself revealed to me and I’d started my fall flying pretty high. There were definitely things I was learning but I was farthest away from any sort of trial… That was in the past. You know, last spring, last whenever.
And then it happened. First it looked a little cloudy and the thunder started to rumble… then it sprinkled a little… And next thing I know I felt like a full on volcano had exploded in my face. I felt like Theoden in Lord of the Rings before a massive battle “How did it come to this?”
Okay. Not exactly what I was expecting. I had an excessive amount of meltdowns and spent several days moody, restless, anxious, and brooding. Biting my nails about the future and wrestling with thoughts, feelings, and fear from other seasons of trial in my life.
I could already feel it- the walls of a prison rising around me. The chains of past bondage rising to take their place on my already scarred wrists and ankles. The frustrating desire to run with nowhere to go. It’s almost like I was beginning to distance myself from God, from hope, from peace, from trusting in my Abba and standing firm in His love. An experience I just had in my life helped me to put a finger on a more appropriate response.
Whoosh… in an instant I was instantly enveloped in clouds. Unable to see through them or discern any sort of direction. If you were to ask me which way was north or south, east or west, I would have been at a loss. I would have had nothing to give you. I couldn’t see further than a couple of feet in front of me. What to do? Well lucky for me this just so happened while I quietly watched from my window within an air plane taking me back to my home in the Rocky Mountains from where I had been in Alaska for ten days.
It would have been an absolutely inappropriate response for me to panic, head for an emergency exit, and bail out just because we were moving into a bank of clouds and I couldn’t see or find my way. As long as I have faith in the captain’s ability to get us safely through the fog and to my destination, I can sit back, relax, and write a piece for my blog as I am currently doing.
It’s kind of humorous to imagine myself bailing out of a plane simply because I couldn’t see or understand what was going on. But the less humorous aspect is that often when I am hit with a storm in life, instead of sticking with my Captain and trusting Him to take me where I should go, I hit the bail button. I’m gone. Outta here. Something is wrong and I’ m not gonna take any part in this season of my life. Peace out.
I started my fall with this promise: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your Presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there; If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139: 7-10).
Even there… That has been His promise to me: “Even there, I will be there. Even there, I will be with you. Even there, you can rely on Me.”
I don’t know if it’s a season of trial or a triumph or of teaching which I am entering. Maybe a little of each. But if it is the trial, the last place I want to be is by myself fighting on my own. If it is the crucible… if it is the training ring… if it is a valley I must pass through, then let me pass through… but I’m not going alone. That’s what is different. I’m not letting go of His hand, and He already promised never to leave my side.
Life is gonna throw rough seasons at us… But He has never asked us to go alone. Never. Without Jesus… it’s flat out misery. But with Him… it’s like there is the sweetest of companionship even in a little suffering. Jesus still wants to be my joy, peace, and hope. My strength. He still wants to be the foundation for me to keep believing. The reason I can endure, the strength and power to get through it all.
So I’m going to run. Not away. But forward. I won’t stop. I choose to stand with Jesus as my Captain… My King... My Lord. To walk with Him even in the valley – not despairing. Not crushed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9). But anchored in His hope (Hebrews 6:19).
Rooted in Jesus’ love for me… and stepping out in His love because love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, and endures all things.