Storms don’t define me

“You are either in the middle of the storm, coming out of a storm or going into a storm.”

Every time I hear this common saying, it makes me feel uncomfortable.

It’s not that I disagree life is full of storms. All of us will face difficult circumstances and trials over the course of our lives. I just don’t like the focus.

Life isn’t about the storms. It’s about the Savior.

Every day, every moment, we have a choice of where our eyes are fixed. We can decide where our stability, direction and peace rests.

Illustration from Bedtime Bible Stories, pg. 322

Illustration from Bedtime Bible Stories, pg. 322

Last night, our family bedtime devotion centered on Matthew 8:23-27. Jesus and His disciples were on a boat, and while Jesus slept, a storm came on hard. The waves crashed onto the deck and began to overcome the disciples work to keep it afloat. In fear and desperation, when their hope was lost, they cried out to Jesus! Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves, and suddenly all was calm. This is what our devotion had to say:

His followers were afraid because they believed more in the storm than in Jesus…Many people today believe in the wrong thing. They have little faith in Jesus and great faith in the world.

– Bedtime Bible Stories, pg. 333

When we cling to Jesus, there is hope and shelter. Within every storm, God is there, ready to gather us under His wings, to cover us. It’s not the rain that soaks. Within His shelter, grace falls freely, filling us to the brim while the storm rages on.

Though the circumstances of life can rip apart what we have built, break our hearts and threaten our security, the storms do not dictate our future. Fierce winds and thunder can be drowned out as God’s love holds us tight. The lightning may keep coming, but our hearts can be captivated by the Light of the world.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

– Psalm 91:1-4

When I look back on my life, I don’t want to just recall the storms. I want to remember God’s mighty protection, and sweet moments of grace.

It’s not the storms that define me. It’s the very presence of Jesus, who is right there with me, no matter what.

Regrade my heart

Road regrade

Road regrade

When the dirt road out to our home becomes rough or washed out, a crew comes out to regrade. Equipment carves out the side and scrapes over new rock, clay, dirt and whatever else is in the ditches out into the road. Holes are evened out, low water trenches are reformed for better drainage, and washboard areas are smoothed.

Usually, a road regrade happens when I am in a hurry, such as a morning I am taking my son to school and we’ve pushed it to the last possible moment to make sure he’s in class on time. I buzz up my lane, ready to peal out on the road and speed into town, and instead have to put on the brakes and go 25 or less.

Though a regraded road helps the travel conditions in the long run and ensures the road stays in better shape, it also means a slower drive, a somewhat bumpier trip because of the new rock out on the road, and a high potential for a flat tire. The inconvenience (and frustration levels) increases when trying to drive while the road is being regraded, navigating around the large rocks and dirt piles in the middle of the path.

For the past several weeks, it has felt like God has been regrading my heart. And, I haven’t enjoyed it. It has been painful, messy, frustrating and completely inconvenient.

But, there God is, out with the heavy machinery, digging deep and scraping my heart to create a better, longer-lasting path than the one I was treading.

I wasn’t anticipating the regrade. In fact, so many wonderful spiritual breakthroughs were happening around me, spurring my heart to plow ahead in faith. The path was clear and milestones were being added. Now they are broken and scattered across the road, and my passion feels punctured and flat.

As God reshapes the road, I’m unable to see where the path leads. I feel more sensitive to bumps. I’ve had to slow down and navigate piles that weren’t there before. Part of me wants to let loose my impatience and frustration, especially with what I want cleared off the road instead of lodged right in the middle.

Maybe that’s the point. I’m not in control. I don’t dictate the path. God is, and God does. I must trust the expertise of the Road Crew. God knows me. And it is His road, not mine. He holds the future, and sees where the road must be reinforced, where flooding can be staved by deeper trenches, and how fresh dirt will improve conditions for further travel and growth, for me and for all who may follow.

Lord, scrape away me. Build your road, and let me be with you wherever that road leads.

Regrade my heart.