Dancing in the Storm

One of my favorite songs right now is Passenger’s Let Her Go. You’ve probably heard it. “Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low, Only miss the sun when it starts to snow, Only know you love her when you let her go…” It rings so true that we don’t know what we have until it’s gone, because it’s so human to take what we have for granted.

This, I think, is one of the reasons we have storms in our lives: to help us to appreciate the good times. Think of the worst day of your life, or the worst few months of it. If that worst day isn’t today and that worst time isn’t still going on, you have something to be thankful for in that your life has gotten better. You may be going through a storm, but it’s not the worst you’ve seen.

And if that day is today, then you can be thankful that these times, though it may seem otherwise, don’t last forever. The storm eventually subsides, the puddles dry up, and the sun pierces the clouds once more.

Another part of this is found in Ecclesiastes 7:14, “In the day of prosperity, be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.” God may have appointed you to go through a storm so that you don’t know what’s coming next. Not coming next makes you want to grasp for security and there is nothing more secure than Him. If trials grow your faith, the reward to be found in the trials is greater than the reward to be found in prosperity. If we can truly grasp this, we will be able to dance in the storm as much as in the sun.

Can you imagine what non-Christians would think of that? Of us celebrating when everything seems to be going against us? Of us praising God when we’ve lost our jobs, have a loved one in the hospital, or have a rebellious teenager? That’s the kind of peace that passes all understanding, that makes non-Christians wonder if maybe what we believe really is powerful enough to make a difference in our lives, a difference they want to experience themselves.

How do you react when you’re going through a trial? For my part, I have my good days and my bad ones. Sometimes, my faith is strong and the trial seems so much smaller than God. At others…well, I still have a lot of growing to do. I’m not yet at the point where I can be not just happy through the storm, but happy because of the storm, knowing that it’s during our trials when God grows us the most and brings us the closest to Him.

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The Prayer Challenge

When we moved to Houston, Leah and I prayed for God to strengthen our faith and to teach us how to wait on Him. Some days we question why we ever did that. In a classic case of “Be careful what you wish for…”, God has been answering our prayer. When we moved, I thought getting a job would be easy, but two months into the search, I’m still looking. Still waiting.

It’s frustrating sometimes because I want the security of a job, of having a steady supply of money with which to support us and start building a future. I want to start saving for a house, to provide a good life for our children, and to begin their inheritance.

The problem is, in short, that in praying for a job, I’m really praying for God to take our future out of His hands and put it in mine, because I trust myself more.

Praying for faith and patience is exactly what we needed to do. We need more of God and less of ourselves. He knows what is best for us, what will draw us closer to Him, and what will drive us from Him.

I think we have a tendency to view life as a restaurant in which God is our waiter. We get to order whatever we want off the menu, then pay for it by going to church, singing a few worship songs, paying tithes, and generally living good lives. If we want a dessert, we may have to pay a little extra in the form of serving the poor.

I want to start treating it more like a child at his parents’ dinner table. As Ezekiel 2:8 ends, “open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Do I have the kind of faith that will accept what God gives me, even if it’s something I don’t like? Do I want God enough to accept things I don’t want if He gives them to me? No, not yet, but I want to, and I’ve prayed to.

In Evan Almighty, God is talking to Evan’s wife and says, “When people pray for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does He give them opportunities to become patient?” Growth often hurts. Just as in working out, growth in faith requires testing your faith beyond its current limits. There will be setbacks, but there will also be more faith in the end.

I want to challenge you to pray for something that will cause you to grow. If you need patience, be prepared for things that will try your patience. If you need faith, be ready to step out in faith. If you need boldness, know that some situations will want to beat you into a corner. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

For those willing to accept this challenge, I invite you to post on here what you’re praying for so the rest of us can pray for you. God’s not going to pile on so much that He breaks you, but He’ll pile on so much that you can’t take it without His help.

Faith Like a Mustard Seed

Honest question: How strong is your faith right now?

Mine is recovering now, but it’s been getting seriously tested of late. And it broke down this past weekend. I was done; I had given up on ever providing for my wife, getting a job, or becoming even half the man she deserves. I had no faith in God to help us and a storm of fears beating me down. 

Leah reminded me of a few things, though:

1. God has promised us that He won’t let us down.

2. He cannot deny Himself; if He has promised it, He will do it.

3. My value doesn’t come from how well I provide for her.

4. No matter what happens, she loves me and will stay with me.

I needed to hear all of them. Most of the pressure I was putting on myself was because I was so afraid of letting her down. I wanted so badly to come home from an interview and proudly announce that I got a job. (Btw, I just had one this morning and things are looking good, please pray if you think about it. Thanks.) Just hearing her tell me, several times, that she’d love me even if we were homeless meant the world to me. 

What got me out of it, however, wasn’t beginning to realize (for I’m not fully there yet) how much she loves me, but remembering that God loves me even more. I also remembered that God doesn’t need me to provide. The Israelites didn’t have to provide for themselves during the 40 years they wandered in the desert. God sent manna for them every day. Much later, God used a fish to pay taxes for Peter and Jesus. I’m not saying that God doesn’t want me to work, just that He has the power to provide in whatever manner He sees fit. 

I need to be more like a little child when his father promises him something: just accept it, be grateful, and wait.

Freaked Out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional

If you’ve seen The Italian Job, you’ll probably recognize the title as what “Fine” stood for. In my last post, it could have been used to describe Jesus’ disciples in the midst of a storm. Most of us use it to hide what we’re really feeling.

Last week was a great week for Leah and me. We had a lot of fun, got a fair bit done, and everything seemed to be going quite well. This week has been…a little more challenging. Between concerns about my finding a job, trying to see my family this holiday season, and her missing the boys she used to nanny, we’ve had our ups and downs. She admitted that she felt better about herself last week than she does this week. Honestly, I could say the same about me.

The good news here is that our value doesn’t depend on how we feel about ourselves at the moment or on how well our lives are going. As far as our value is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether we’re rich or poor, employed or still looking, married or single, with kids or without, healthy or sick, attractive or ugly, or even happy or sad. Our value is still the same because, though we waver on a daily basis, He never does. 

It’s nice (and necessary) to remind myself from time to time that my value is not only higher than I can imagine, but also that it’s secure because He is eternal and unchanging. Whatever happens to us, I know He loves me and thinks of me as priceless. 

Life’s not always going to be good times and sunshine. It’s the tough times, though, that grow our faith, not just that He’ll take care of us, but that He loves us more than we know, enough to send us these times to draw us closer to Him.