Life Forecast: Chance of Storms 100%

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

We moved to Texas 2 years ago, from California, and one of the things I enjoy the absolute most is the extreme weather. It gets me up out of bed in the morning and compels me to stay up late at night in wait. The lightening is magnificent, sometimes trailing across the sky in a mad dash to the finish line across the other end. Other times it is if you are sitting inside an explosion and for a split second all around you is a brilliant shade of fire white your eyes have never seen before.

I do not however anticipate with such glee, the difficult storms of life that can overwhelm all of us at times. For the first 27 years of my life I powered through the storms of life, riding the coat tails of my leftover will from each previous storm I happened to survive. Willing my way through feeling worthless, being a child of divorce. Willing my way through the pain of rejection from a boyfriend I was desperately looking for affirmation from. Willing my way through fear of being abandoned, by pulling myself up by me bootstraps, paving my own way to true independence. Or so I thought. A lifetime of self dependence, for me, ended after decades of self reliance when I found myself no longer able to muster up the strength to continue through the storms. I was living in a shelter, I had lost custody of my daughter, and I was living a shameful life of drugs, partying and complete darkness.

I guess you could say the real me had gone missing for years. When a person is reported missing at sea, the Coast Guard responds by conducting a search and rescue mission. Depending on the odds of the persons survival after a certain period of time spent on the mission, they will either continue the mission or determine there is little to no chance of survival and call off the mission.

In my mind, when I was in that shelter, I had no chance of survival, no chance of ever recovering from where my choices had landed me. None. But by the grace of God, He refused to call off the rescue mission.

After giving my life back to Christ, surrendering to him being in control, almost everything in my life changed. Except for one thing. My circumstances. I still had to deal with consequences of all of my past choices, but facing them was no longer something I would have to face alone or figure out how to get through by myself.

I grew up thinking Christians thought they were so much better than everybody else. Like their lives were so awesome because they joined the cool club. I thought their motto was “Join our club and life will be great!” But I was so wrong. Life is not supposed to be great as a Christian, our faith is great because of what we believe God has done for us. He gave us a chance to live in a way where we experience Him, His love for us and that we would never be separated from Him, even though we could never do anything to deserve such kindness.

The one thing Christianity promises is that we will suffer. It also promises that we will never suffer alone, and that from our suffering will come good.

Does that mean we are excited to suffer? Does it mean we are happy when we are suffering? I don’t think so. But hopefully it means that when we are suffering, going through difficulties, we can find hope in the promise that it is not the end of our road, and that we can trust that God will carry us through.

Today’s prayer challenge:

Being a believer means that God equips us to face life’s difficulties, knowing that He is for us and we are not fighting alone. Sometimes we need to be reminded of this. I challenge you today, to take 5 minutes to give thanks to God that He is with you and write down any ways that you have tried to control outcomes of your circumstances without consulting Him, as if you were facing things alone. Ask for forgiveness in areas where you have taken the lead without prayer first.

Father God I am grateful that you promise I am never alone. I have been faced with difficulties that I feel I will never overcome. You know my will to fight, but God I have taken advantage of that, thinking I am in control. Please forgive me for taking the lead in areas of my life where you are trying to lead me. God show me where I can submit outcomes I have been trying to control, to your will. Thank you that do not remove storms but that you guide me through them that I would grow closer to you and experience the love you have for me.

In Christ’s name, Amen.

Surrender your chaos, make time to withdraw.

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Luke 5:16

“Yet He frequently withdrew to lonely places to pray.”

I went to India a few years ago with my husband and it was the most amazing trip I have ever been on. But it was also very crowded. I’m talking like uncomfortably crowded. I remember we had to take a train to get to our next destination. When we got to the train station it was madness. I thought I knew what crowded was, but clearly I did not. India is crowded. Like I could smell people, crowded. I could smell hair and breath and goats and it was not ok. Thousands of people all trying to get on the same train and seemingly no sort of ticketing system or wait your turn concepts. All bets were off and as soon as the train arrived it was pure pandemonium. Moms grabbing babies with no shoes by their arms, men slithering through cracks not big enough for a child to get to the train doors and I was holding on for dear life to Josh’s shirt as he plowed through hundreds of people who were also plowing through hundreds of people. Straight up madness. And there were goats, did I mention that? People with their goats boarding the train.

The bible says it may have looked similar to this train scene shortly after Jesus began his ministry. People were hearing of His miracles and healings. It says in the book of Luke that the news about what Jesus was doing was spreading so rapidly that people came in droves just to hear him and be healed.

Do you ever feel like life is coming at you in droves? Just all the life things? Its like there are hundreds of life things that constantly need our attention. Little things like running out of toilet paper, big things like finding mom in home care for her declining health, medium things like a gift for a teacher or friend. But its all of them combined that makes it feel heavy, like you can’t see when the entire list will ever be checked off.

The very next verse after it says that people came in droves to hear Him and be healed, almost doesn’t make any sense. It kind of doesn’t even fit. It says “Yet news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Kind of an interesting place to let us know that, right?

I think it’s the perfect place actually. The biggest most climactic scene, people are searching for Him, desperate for Him…. and he bails. And he did it frequently it says. Busiest guy in town, most powerful guy in town, in the most stressful circumstance in town and He was intentional about finding alone time with God.

We can’t keep trying in our own will to get all the stuff done. We can’t keep letting the entire day go by under the lie that we are too busy. It’s very simple, go frequently to lonely places to be with God. Whether it is 5 minutes in your closet before your kids see you, or the first 5 minutes you get in your car on the way to school or work. Maybe its setting the alarm earlier to wake up or setting an alarm 10 minutes before bedtime to be with Him. Make it important.

Today’s prayer challenge:

Reflect on what you will be doing every day this week. Pick a time that you will commit to being alone with God. Write down the time. If you do not have 5 minutes to spare, commit to God what you will cut out of your day and replace with alone time with Him. Remind yourself of the truth that not everything in your day is more important that time alone with God. Pray over the time you have picked.

God I see that I have not fought for time alone with you. God forgive me that I have bought the lie that I am too busy for time with you. God help me to give you my best, not my leftovers. God change my heart to be excited to be with you and not to resent things that get in the way of that time. God help me to be intentional and a good steward of my time. In Christ’s name, Amen.