Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stormy Weather

I am an optimist. I look for a bright side to most anything. But I think there is some truth to the idea I heard in conversation recently that we are all either in the midst of a storm, on our way into a storm, or on our way out of a storm.

If you’re in the midst of a storm, you know who you are. You can’t think of anything else. You’re learning to do whatever it takes to hang on and get through it. Two things we can do if we're in the midst of a storm:

1. Lighten our load.

Get rid of non-essentials. Jettison excess baggage that only weighs us down and keeps us tethered to things from which we may need to be released. Even worthwhile things and noble tasks may have to go for a season so we can concentrate on the task at hand: saving ourselves or others, in a manner of speaking. Salvaging something more important may help us be able to throw overboard something we have held onto.

Max Lucado’s Traveling Light is an excellent little guide to letting go of our baggage that weighs us down. It is hard to practice ‘let it go’ when we cling tightly to our stuff. The stuff that weighs us down might be unhealthy relationships, unnecessary busy-ness that keeps us living at a frantic pace, or trying too hard to live into someone else’s expectation of us, among other things.

So, let something go. Start with the worry: “Do not fret; it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:8 Worry causes more emotional and physical damage, and never enhances our ability to act wisely. Worry is counterproductive. Ask – consistently ask – God to help you release your hold on worry as a default setting.

Hold fast to what you know. “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on,” is a familiar word picture for me.

2. Tie yourself to the mast.

When life's 'stormy seas' are threatening and you’re being tossed about, there may come a time when you cannot hang on any longer. You need something stronger than your own grip to secure your safety. You need to position yourself somewhere that can remain upright and withstand the turbulent water surrounding you. Tie yourself to the mast, and choose to connect yourself to One ineffably stronger than you or I will ever be alone. Abide in Christ.

Tie yourself to the mast with cords of love that cannot be broken. One day we will come to the limit of our ability to hold on and maintain the illusion of control. We are held in the grip of God’s grace, and He will not let us go. What a promise! That means that whatever happens, God is with us. God will never leave us nor forsake us. I love the truth of this thought expressed in a myriad of scriptures. I'll probably reflect on it frequently, because I think on it often.

I am reminded of a favorite hymn from childhood, "Love Lifted Me".

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore.

Very deeply stained with sin, sinking to rise no more.

But the master of the seas heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me……when nothing else could help, Love....lifted....me.

Admittedly, all those years in the 1960's I enjoyed the lilting melody and my daddy's voice in the bass line. But today I remember the hymn and affirm the power of love.

So, what if something devastating happens and we are not rescued as we'd hoped? Go ahead and face that question. It is foreseeable that we will face heartache and gut-wrenching loss. Loss is a part of life, and we do not draw a 'pass' because we are professing faith in Christ. God is with us. And if the worst case we envision actually happens? God is with us through it all. He will never leave us. We have the promise of God’s enduring love. And - I am staking my life it - one day we will learn that it is enough.

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