Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mercy Storms



We recently received another diagnosis for my hubby. There have been considerable health struggles for some time now, but now we have a name and direction to pursue healing for this specific problem . Knowing is good. But also, knowing-it is hard.  If treatment doesn’t work, if God doesn’t heal, where does that leave us? Here are just a few ways God has stirred my heart during these past few months. I have been reluctant to post anything because we are still in the middle and I know God has a lot more work to do on my heart before I am able to really share everything. But these words, they just wouldn’t leave me alone. 

Sunshine and sandals.
When I moved away from California for a time, this is the impression many people had of where I grew up.
Also, people always thought that California was just one big beach.
(Not even close.)
But lately, it has been all sunshine and sandals.
Even in the winter.
Even where there is normally rain and snow and deep muddy puddles to splash in.
We haven’t done much splashing-not this year, or much of last year, or even for a few years before that.
And the experts, they say that in one year, 365 short days, we could be out of water.
But for now, water is running from the tap like it will never end.
And life is, well, comfortable.
It is convenient to not think about boots and umbrellas or whether or not to host an outside party.
It is easy to sit in the sun and keep busy being busy and never have to worry if the roof is going to spring a leak.
This beaming sunshine, it feels really good and all of those annoying water saving habits--they mean very little.
But underneath, under the real heat of the sun and the stark emptiness of the blue and the silence of the dry breeze, there is the truth that California is dry and thirsty.
There is no doubt about it, our sunny spring has given way to a dry and dusty summer. With ponds taking the place of lakes and the grass growing tall on the dew that will disappear as the mercury rises, these dry sunny days have been a launching pad for a fire filled summer. As I write tonight,  the haze is hanging in the air and as I climbed from under my blankets this morning the sun was a fiery red.
I keep thinking about all of this drought and sun, and how Ann Voskamp wrote once, All sun can kill us and there are storms that bring the rains we need to survive.”
I read that sentence when new storms started brewing last summer. Not storms in the skies above, but in health and hearts within myself and of those I love. These storms were just then rolling in on the horizon of my life and I could not stop thinking of her words.
And even now, I cannot help but think about it.
Because, I think, she is right.
You see, I like the sunshine.
I enjoy wearing sandals and short sleeves.
I like the ease of not considering the weather before making plans.
I like making my own plans.
Droughts, they don’t always feel like a drought at first.
Water flows, and flowers still grow.
I can wear easy shoes and leave things like umbrellas and jackets in the closet.
Not to mention, the grass is still green and everything looks so beautiful, everything becomes so effortless.
And, just like the drought here in California, I can have a drought in my heart and not even know it. 
I can be comfortable even when things are growing dry and brittle.
It can feel like the sunshine will never end, and the grass will always be green, and the water will always flow.
I can read my Bible and say cool phrases like ,”it’s all about Jesus” or check of my attendance to church and think my heart is fully watered.
But, it is when things start heating up, when the grass starts to wither and the flowers fade--- that is when the truth comes out.
It can be easy for me not to think about what all this heat means for the long term, for tomorrow, next month {or for eternity}.
{And some might argue why think of eternity now when I’ve got sandals and beaming sunshine here?
But, I think , if I am even considering eternity, mustn’t there be something there to consider? C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”}
This green-grass-without-rain life makes me start to think the goodness comes from an everlasting well of blessings, or worse, because I deserve them.
My vision gets blurry (looking at the sun too long can do that, you know) and I forget what is really important.
I start to think that life will always be this way-sunshine and sandals- and who ever thought rain was a good idea anyways?
I start to expect the ease and the comfort and I forget that the whole earth around me resonates with the truth of how only the most beautiful things come first out of struggle, pain, pressure, and often a cracking open of some kind.
Butterflies.
Birds.
Babies.
Diamonds.
Seeds.
Salvation.
I forget how much I need water, how thirsty I can get and how dry life is without it.
All sun can really kill us--- the most important and eternal part of us anyways.
It seems, overnight almost, the dry and dusty season comes and suddenly, I find myself not just thirsty, but deathly dehydrated.
The grass withers and the flowers fade and I am no longer comfortable.
I am miserable.
And, I am dying of thirst.

The truth is, I need the rain.
I need the stormy nights and the crashing thunder and the lightning cutting through the sky. It is this rain, these storms, that keep me seeking Shelter, that keep my eyes not on the sun, but on the Son.I can be in a drought and not even know it.I can pray for sun but what I really need is rain.

The storms that count, the ones that really saturate our grounds (and our souls), they are usually the ones that come rolling in with big dark heavy clouds.
These are the drenching storms; the kind that keep coming and pouring down from above.
And as the rain comes pelting down, and the sun is kept at bay, I see how dry the ground really was-how much I needed that storm.
And this is where I find myself lately.
Experiencing uncertain and stormy changes and seeing just how dry my soul really has been.
I can see what I have reached for instead of reaching out to God.
I see people I have looked to approval from instead of in Him alone.
I see where my heart has been hardened and prideful, thinking I can do it alone, or I can do it well enough.
I see that my “treasures” all fade, and the One True Treasure is the only One that is unfading, sheltering and anchoring my heart.
I see where I quoted God’s word because it worked in my life, instead of living out my life according to the anchoring truth of His Word.

 I see now that these are Mercy Storms.

Storms that are washing me of the dust and bitter dryness that wreaks havoc on my heart and soul and draws me away from True Love.
These are Mercy Storms that cause me to remember and return.
These storms cause me to see more clearly the state of my heart and reach out to the Heart Healer.
These storms are teaching me that “Jesus is enough’ is not just a catchy phrase, a password to get me into a Bible Study, but words of truth and life.
(Because He is more than enough.)
And that life-or belief-or sun or drought-anything without the One Who conquered death and did so by going heart first into battle for my life-everything without Jesus is really nothing.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here.
I do not think the storms are good.

The storms are not good.

They are, after all, storms.
But, without them, I may have a few years of grassy green and blue skies, but then what?
A heart that reaches out and clings to fragile and fading things?
A lifetime (eternity?!) of dry, barren and fiery land?
I pray for the storms to go away.
I close my eyes when lightening flashes and I pray for each dark cloud to be the last one pouring down.
I strain my eyes ahead looking to find a break in the clouds and hoping to see a stream of sunshine that cuts through the gray.
But until those days arrive, I take comfort in knowing that though the storms are not good, Jesus is.
Though the storms bring turmoil, Jesus is my Peace.
Though the storms may bring dark skies, Jesus is my Light.
 He can take these storms and use them to wash away those things that would have been brittle tinder had the wrong spark come.

It all boils down to what I will choose to cling to when the storms come.
Will I look to the clouds, dark and foreboding?
Will I look to the things and people surrounding me, all who are as mortal as me?
Will I look to my strength, my brain, my flesh-which all could fail at any time?
Or, will I look to the One Who told me that there would be storms, Who promises to hold me and never let go during those storms, and Who once and for all can calm the storm and quench my thirst?
I choose to look to Jesus.
Jesus showed us when He was on the Cross that pain is not without purpose.
He showed us the difference three days makes.
Three days from now the storms may be gone, the prayers answered and the sunny days returned.
My prayer is that someday when those days of sun return, I will remember these days.
Ann Voskamp, she also said, “Our storms can be canvases for God’s lightening glory.”
When the days are sunny, when I’m consumed with the ease of blue skies and floppy shoes, the only glory that is seen is what I can make of a day. Believe me, the piles of laundry and the burned chicken and the messy apologies (or willful non-apologies) are not glorious. These days make a life, but they don’t make it filled with light. They may have love, but they don’t live out love-perfect. It is God’s lightening glory that lights hearts and life, and often it is only against the dark backdrop of a stormy sky that we can see just how real and perfect and beautifully glorious He is.


Verses To Stir Your Heart 

John 4:14 ❤️ Isaiah 40:8 ❤️Mark 4:35-40 ❤️Galatians 1:10 ❤️Matthew 6:19-24 ❤️ Isaiah 61:1-4 ❤️ Philippians 3:8 ❤️ John 8:12❤️ Hebrews 13:20 ❤️ Romans 8:28 ❤️ Hebrews 12:2 ❤️ Psalms 18:28-30 ❤️ Ecclesiastes 11:4 ❤️ John 16:33 ❤️ Psalm 73:23-26 ❤️ Hebrews 13:5b AMP