Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stormy Weather

I'm breaking another blog hiatus, for this special weather announcement....

     It's Spring, which is a season that lends itself to growth and warmth. Spring is my favorite season as it's not too hot or too cold, but just right (in my "Goldilocks voice"). However, Spring also brings about storms. Thunderstorms. Torrential rains. Tornadoes. Scary, ominous weather forecasts. The past couple of weeks our area has been threatened with such storms. Flash floods, gusts of high-power winds, and warnings that have even prompted many areas to "take cover."
    During this season, I began to think of how much I dislike storms. I've always been afraid of their potential. Storms can hurt you, they're uncomfortable, they interfere with life, they are big balls of chaos. My control freak nature also detests them because........yeah, they come out of nowhere which leaves me unprepared. I must be prepared for the worst possible situation, so I can be prepared for the worst possible situation-----right?

Now that I've properly introduced you to my fearful, control-freak flesh, here's what dropped into my spirit the other week during.......yep, that's right--a storm.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at home, hanging with my hubby. That night, the weather turned grim and a serious thunderstorm was on the horizon. I wasn't too jazzed about it, which I have never been. Nonetheless, it was coming whether I wanted it to or not (let that line marinate for a moment.....or as the Bible says "selah"). So, Mrs. Control Freak, something you don't want to deal with is about to happen anyway.

So, here comes the storm. Loud, dreary, preventing hubby and I from frolicking through our new town and having a laid back Saturday. I was currently chatting with a good friend about these current storms that interrupted my evening, and had a bit of curiosity that turned into a bit of an "aha" (waves finger). Now this good friend of mine, happens to LIKE storms. I mean she really LOVES them. She watches for them, tracks them, and gets thrills and excitement from a "good-ol" thunderstorm. Yes, the same ones I detest. I've always thought that was an interesting hobby, but there are those who hate storms...ME, and then there's my storm-loving buddy. That night "I got to thinking" Why on earth would someone LIKE storms? Maybe storm-lovers don't really know their potential to......I don't know hurt you and destroy everything you have? Or maybe storm-haters like me are missing it possible that there is even a shred of good that can come out of a storm?

Well, if it's one thing I've heard over the years in church sermons and referenced in scripture....there will be storms, and God has the power to create good from the bad. Easy to hear, motivational to think about, but when you're really in a storm---are you thinking about all those good, warm fuzzy  "God's got this" thoughts? No. No you're not. And if  you are, it's a heck of a job getting your mind to stick to that. It's feasible and I even know it's worth the effort to do such a thing. However, it's not easy. It's not easy to think about rainbows and sunny days when the sky is black. When wind knocks you down. When twisters come and move you out of your intended place. When they wreak havoc in your environment, or when everything is soaked under the downpour of rain.

So after chatting, I sent my "storm-loving" friend a video of the chaos outside as I knew she would be geeked about it. Shortly thereafter she replied with a passage from Job (36:27-37:24). Now I have read Job, a few times all the way through--might I add.....and I don't recall ever being truly struck by these specific verses. I think maybe because I read this portion as narrated details, and was most likely focusing on one of the overall themes (I'm an ELA teacher for sure) of restoration and faith. My mind also went back to earlier that day, reflecting on  my daily Ann Voskamp devotional, which happened to be on the subject of "ugly beauty" (finding the beautiful in the ugly). Coincidence, I think not. God-idence? I think yes. I had just written in my journal on pg. 50, "Lord, help me see the beauty in the ugly." I then found a playlist with storm sounds (who makes such things?!) and listened to claps of thunder, rain, and strong winds while I pondered....."what on earth could be so great about storms." Yes, I know the truth about spiritual storms, but tell that to my flesh (the one I tell to shut up daily). Reading the verses in Job and thinking on my devotional that day struck a cord right then, because hello! we were in the middle of a storm people. The verses are as follows:

Job 36:27-37:24 New International Version (NIV)

27 “He draws up the drops of water,
    which distill as rain to the streams[a];
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
    and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
    how he thunders from his pavilion?
30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
    bathing the depths of the sea.
31 This is the way he governs[b] the nations
    and provides food in abundance.
32 He fills his hands with lightning
    and commands it to strike its mark.
33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
    even the cattle make known its approach.[c]
37 “At this my heart pounds
    and leaps from its place.
Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
    to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
    and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of his roar;
    he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
    he holds nothing back.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
    he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
    and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
So that everyone he has made may know his work,
    he stops all people from their labor.[d]
The animals take cover;
    they remain in their dens.
The tempest comes out from its chamber,
    the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
    and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
    he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
    over the face of the whole earth
    to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish people,
    or to water his earth and show his love.
14 “Listen to this, Job;
    stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
    and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
    those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
    when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
    hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
    we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
    Would anyone ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
    bright as it is in the skies
    after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
    God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
    in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, people revere him,
    for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?[e]
 Now, I feel that many a sermon can be preached in these verses. What struck me is the reminder of God's Sovereignty! HE CONTROLS ALL OF THIS. ALL. From drawing up drops of water to the bold thunder, to WHATEVER HE COMMANDS. Boom! God drops mic, walks off stage. I don't like storms, but as the Word says "are we only to want good from God and not the bad?" (my paraphrase). So, WHATEVER HE COMMANDS, whether we understand it or not---has a purpose. Even if the purpose is solely to show He's God, there's a purpose. Shortly after I pondered these passages (selah), I Googled, read, and pretended to be a college student on a storm-study research project. I searched on the specific benefits of storms. Maybe just maybe there would be something grand about this "ugly beauty" notion. Even though a Google search isn't the end all- be all of info,  I still found some interesting facts:

1. Storms act as a lifeguard for man and living creatures. Rainfall is a result of thunderstorms and water is the main source of all life. ("abundant showers fall on mankind..." Job 36:28...)

2. Storms act as an air conditioner for the earth. The percentage of heat would greatly increase and be unbearable for living creatures, if not for the cooling of a storm. ("The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen..." Job 37:9-10)

3. Lightening in a storm releases nitrates that fertilize the soil. Nitrogen is a significant element for farming and is necessary as it's used by plants and vegetation. Lightening also CHANGES nitrogen gas into compounds which aid in the fertility of soil. ("See how He scatters his lightening about him, bathing the depths of the sea. This is the way He governs the nations and provides food in abundance..." Job 36:31)

4. Thunderstorms remove pollution. Storms clean the air and remove pollution from the atmosphere which is why we feel refreshed after a storm. ("He does great things beyond our understanding..." Job 37:5) Storm-lovers may know these benefits, but storm-haters like me.....never knew. Yes, these ugly, destructive, inconvenient storms have BENEFITS! Benefits that are necessary just for us to sustain life. As much as I would like to think that the world would be grand if it never rained or stormed, truth is---it wouldn't be. It would seem comfortable, but there would be no growth, no replenishing, no renewing...

*The same rain that floods and soaks us, is the main source we need to live and we need a great downpour! The storm we don't want to encounter is the same storm that is a lifeguard for our Spirit. One that gives us a great downpour of our main source.....Jesus.

*The storm that drastically drops our temperature to cooling lows, is the same storm that is preventing our earth from overheating. God dropping temps to low, dropping us to our low, is providing relief. Relief from the hot, stale, stagnant places in our spirit. The areas that are in great need of a cooling,  which slow us down....just enough to put our focus back on Him.

*The lightening that lights up the sky and strikes down trees and power lines, is the same lightening that provides nitrates to the soil. Soil we need to provide vegetation and nourishment. Just another attribute of a storm that is necessary. One that God allows which seems ominous, yet is helping us when we can't comprehend or understand.

*The dirty, mucky air that we breathe day in and day out, is being cleansed each time a storm comes through? Remarkable. Only God could perform such a thing. While things are sunny, comfortable, and bright we "think" we are breathing freshness. We "think" that we are always inhaling the good. However, sometimes there must be a shift. A shift to "cleanse our air" and bring us back to where we need to be...which is to notice His work. His sovereignty, His delicate care of every detail of our lives. Him loving us enough to cause a storm that would cleanse, purify, restore, and grow us.

"He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor."
 -Job 37:6-7

So, would I LOVE for another storm to roll through?.....I wouldn't necessarily choose it. Nonetheless, I will say that I have a greater appreciation for His works and more patience for WHATEVER HE COMMANDS. There's peace in knowing that He orchestrates ALL things. There's growth in knowing that the uncomfortable places, the hurt, the "why do I have to go through this storm" parts are still a part of His plan. We don't have to understand it all, and many times the why and how are what trip us up. Why would he allow the scary, dark, ugly storms? and then once the storms pass you see the benefits that you were blind to all along. I never cared if there was any beauty in the ugly before. I just wanted the beauty to stay and the ugly to go away. I didn't want to wait until it was over. I didn't want to be uncomfortable. I didn't want to "go through." But, I'm learning you must. Storms are going to come whether we want them to or not. No stopping it. No trying to dodge the bad and only accept the good. No changing the sovereignty of God. The huge blessing is that He knows exactly what He's doing, and if it hurts He's got the band-aid ready. Ready to place it on the wound. Ready to restore our spiritual skin after the tear, the scrape, the pain. I love the Message Bible's translation of Job 37:23-24, "It's unthinkable that he'd treat anyone unfairly. So bow to him in deep reverence, one and all! If you're wise, you'll most certainly worship him."

So, I'm going to trust that the Lord will do what needs to be done. Sometimes that's the storm, sometimes it's sunshine. I'll bow to him in deep reverence because I don't know it all. I don't always know when I need a refresh. I don't know when I'm dry and stagnant, and need a downpour. He knows....and how nice that after the storm or stormS will come a rainbow.

I think things.....I ponder long.....and I write them down when they fill my head.

Until next time.........

*Thank you Jesus, Ann Voskamp, Kristy, and :)