Were you affected by the huge thunderstorm last week? We were! Many of our stores lost power which makes for a big headache! Some were without it for the entire weekend. A new store that was in the building phase was pretty much flattened, and our office was surrounded by downed trees. Friends without power and their three small children moved into our house which still had electricity. At our cottage which is surrounded, and I mean SURROUNDED by big old trees, a few went down. Rather, let's call them fragile because every time we have one of these big storms a few go down. Thankfully not on our cottage thus far.
So that is how the storm affected me, shall we say, “externally.”
I started really thinking about the word "storm" after hearing this 5 letter word a lot last weekend. My mind went immediately to gratitude. We were not hurt in it. They clocked winds of 90 mph at our cottage. Those are dangerous winds. Trees went down, our neighbors had a window blow in and, of course, there were power outages galore.
And…at the Hoppen house we never woke up. I mean, I did wake up very briefly (emphasis on briefly) and thought, "Wow, it's windy out there!" Really, Sherry? Some responsible mother and grandma I am! It was just us girls and little boy sleeping here and I should have been a little more aware. Maybe I would have herded us all into the basement and kept an eye on the weather etc. Back in the day I could count on Olivia to wake me up if the storm was bad. Now she sleeps through it too. I am well known in our family for the inability to wake up and do anything rational, so it's no surprise I went back to sleep. I was a little surprised to see a tree down in the road in front of us to start my day. I'm so thankful for God's protection over us!
Everyone was affected so differently in this storm it really had me thinking about how this relates to the storms of life. When that storm raged around me let week, God kept me safe. Just like the storms in life. Everything is raging and swirling around us, but God is still there. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a storm because we have chosen to step out of shelter and directly into it. I know I've done that. Even though God has offered me a safe place of protection, I still venture out on my own.
God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. – Psalm 46:1 (GNTD)
When I drank, I stepped out into the storm. Every time. I was sheltered from the storm as long as I stayed close to God, he assured me he was all I needed. But many times I chose not to listen. I thought I needed more.
My drinking days created the perfect storm:
I contemplate a drink - it starts to sprinkle.
I fight with myself and go back and forth on whether or not I should give in to the temptation - the winds pick up.
I take an inventory of what I am feeling inside and what I need to protect myself from - check the radar, see what it coming.
My head says I need alcohol to get me through this current crisis no matter how big or small it is. I need to protect myself from this thought process and engage in something, anything to distract and protect me - I distract myself from the storm, head to the basement where I don’t see the lighting or hear the wind as much.
It’s not working, the storm is getting more and more intense. In one split section, all of my rational thoughts are gone and I impulsively fill my glass and step out into the storm - the thunder claps and the lightening flashes.
I drink - the storm grows in intensity.
The storm ends and the clean up begins:
I begin making amends to God and anyone I hurt the previous night with my drinking. Usually, my husband. Sometimes the cleanup up was quick, just a few apologies. Other times the damage lasted longer - I had just a few branches to pick up if I was lucky. Then there were times the whole tree had fallen. The power might be out for days.
The storms of life are so comparable to the storms we experience in nature. I believe this is why the Bible calls them storms. Unpredictable. Harmful. A force we need protection from.
These storms don't represent the end of our story. The skies clear and the sun comes out. God knows we will experience times of heartbreak, temptation, and disappointment. He knows we will be overwhelmed when it looks like the storm is more than we could bear. While the storm is raging outside, we can come in from the elements and find peace in him and his word. He promises us this.
One of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns talks about the storms of life and how we should praise him in them. That's a big request. When we are beat up, broken, and scared we need to praise instead of hide.
“I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand”
What storm do you find yourself in today? What do you need to take shelter from? I talk about the storms of drinking, but there are so many I could choose from.
Right now, there are a lot of thunderclouds swirling inside me. Our grand baby has a heart condition and is going to be here soon. Our family, especially the new parents, has a lot of unknown ahead. I am a mix of joy, fear, hope, peace, and excitement.
This storm has been going on for a while now and I am working hard to stay in the shelter of my Protector through it all. I know the storm will end, the sun will come out and we will soon be holding that precious little one. Where would I be without this peace, the calm in the storm that God has given me in this? I cringe to think about it.
If you find yourself in the midst of a storm today, seek God's word and you will be encouraged. God is in control.
He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet. – Psalm 107:29
Peace on your weekend,