Sunday, June 18, 2017

Still Standing

God can and does speak to us all the time, in many different ways. We just have be listening and watching. He showed me something awesome this morning in a thunderstorm. First though, I have to give some background on my experience with storms.

I grew up on the edge of tornado alley, so thunderstorms and tornadoes have always been in my life. I never really noticed them until the spring of 1996 when an F3 tornado came tearing through my town and left a 1/2 mile wide path of destruction for several miles. My house was in the direct path, but God spared the lives of my family and our house. We just lost trees, a storage building, and were without electricity for 3 days.

Ever since that night in 1996 I've had a healthy respect for severe thunderstorms, especially those that have the potential to produce tornadoes.

Recently, I've had some wind damage on my property. Two years ago, strong straight line winds took out a tree, causing it to fall and rip the electric meter completely off my house! Three months later, another storm blew another tree down and pulled the wires loose from my electric meter again! At least the second time it didn't cost me anything. The electric company was able to reconnect the wires since the meter was not damaged this time.

Last spring, I got caught in a hail storm with no where to go and had to drive home in it. I had damage to my car and had to pay the deductible to get it fixed.

So, forgive me if I'm a little jumpy when it's storm season. I have good reason to be.

This morning I overslept. I awoke at 8:00 am to the sound of my cat meowing loudly. She was very impatiently telling me that her bowl was empty and she was at death's door.

Ok, that was a joke! For those of you who do NOT know my cat, she isn't about to starve any time soon. She weighs 17 pounds.

After I fed the starving cat, I got ready for church in a hurry. Since I was running late I didn't even turn on the TV. I usually have the news on while I'm getting ready in the mornings.

In 35 minutes I was out the door and in my car. It occurred to me that it was really dark outside for 8:40, but I went on anyway, headed for church.

As I left my neighborhood, which is in a forest that completely obscures the sky, I topped the hill and saw the northwest sky for the first time. It was a completely black wall cloud, and it was bearing down on my town. I contemplated trying to go on toward church, which is 12 miles southwest of there, but I knew I could never beat it. I wasn't afraid at that point, but I also did not want to drive in a severe, hail-producing thunderstorm. I feel like wisdom was telling me to go back to my house and wait until that cloud passed. I would just go to the 10:45 service instead of the early one.

I drove around the block at the next corner and calmly drove back to my house. I parked my car under the carport and went into my house, just as the first gusts of wind and drops of rain arrived.

Once in the house, I turned on the TV and was relieved to see commercials. Anyone in tornado country knows that the weather is the top story when it is really severe, and they don't even break for commercials. You can laugh if you want, but it's true.

Soon, the weatherman was showing the storm on the radar, just as it was arriving outside. It was merely a thunderstorm but it had potential for hail. Since I didn't want to risk hail damage on my car again, I was glad I had come back home.

I had relaxed when I saw it was mostly a lot of rain, so I was not prepared for what happened next. I was sitting on my couch, looking out my front window at the storm. My very large pecan tree in front of my house was thrashing about violently in the wind. We're not talking about a sapling; this is a mature tree, taller than the 2 story house next door. Its trunk is so large I can't wrap my arms around it. Several times, it appeared that a branch would break off the tree. The limbs almost touched the ground two or three times. All the trees in the neighborhood were being tossed around in the wind, but this one right in front of my house caught my attention.

I really wish I had thought to record this but it was so surprising and I was
doing a lot of praying at the time.

After about 15 or 20 minutes the wind started to subside. I stared in amazement at that tree. It was still standing! Not only was it still standing, it had not lost one limb. Not one.

As I continued to look at the tree, I heard the still small voice reassuring me that just as this tree was tossed about in the wind, yet did not break, so would I feel tossed in the storms of life at times, but I WOULD NOT BREAK.

God has made nature to be resilient. Trees can withstand a lot of wind without suffering any damage. He also made us, and when we put our faith in Him and trust in Him to get us through the storms of life, He will.

Lately, I have struggled with just that, one of the "storms of life." Over the years, I have suffered the loss of loved ones, financial loss, and physical sickness and pain. I have been through major depression. I have walked through intense emotional pain and had my heart broken so badly, I didn't think I could survive it. You name it, I've been through it. I'm sure we all have had our share of "storms" of this nature.

However, though I have suffered through many storms over the years as I walk with the Lord, each time He has brought me through. Just like the pecan tree, I'm still standing. This morning, He timed a thunderstorm just right so that He could reassure me that He would get me through this storm that I am presently in. 

I'm encouraged by this, because with every new "storm" or battle, there is growth. Praise the Lord! I will come out on the other side of this with a new level of freedom. He is breaking off some more chains!

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.  Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT)