when the rain becomes a storm
I was sitting in car line this morning, waiting to drop my son off at school, listening to the song "There is a Cloud" by Elevation Worship. The lyrics of this song talk about a cloud "beginning to swell" with blessings about to break out - the presence of the Holy Spirit raining down. As someone who just went through a period of a lot of rain both physically, in the form of Hurricane Irma, and also spiritually I have some thoughts about this.
I'm writing this on the first day back to school after Hurricane Irma swept through our town, felling branches and knocking out power in our area. This morning, all along the way to school, I witnessed the litter of this storm - twigs by the side of the road, an overabundance of leaves on the ground for September, a veritable shower of Pine needles and as I was driving this morning I had this thought:
what about when the blessings of rain become the storm of a hurricane?
I went through a two-year hurricane a few years ago and during this season of storms, nearly everything in my life was beaten down. My faith shuddered and the walls fell down leaving only a foundation, with only the most basic of beliefs, as God held onto me and I clung to my faith in the middle of the storm.
On the other side, as the clouds began to clear and the debris on my shoreline was revealed I was overcome with shame - I was such a disaster. Weren't "good Christians" supposed to weather storms with strength and an unshakable faith? My faith had been shaken and tested and a lot of my faith had fallen down. So what now? I felt like Christians looked down their nose at people who are genuinely and thoroughly struggling. I had dropped their "right answers" and I questioned how to reconcile my pain with God's love.
I lived in the shame of that storm-wrecked beach for about a year. I thought I had failed - I had been tested and I had been found lacking. But then in one remarkable moment, God showed me a picture of my beach storm-wrecked and full of debris but then I saw the Holy Spirit cleaning up my mess. He was the one doing the heavy lifting - I was just there to help. And this is what I discovered - God still loved me. He loved me as fiercely and as tenderly in the middle of my mess as He had in the middle of my religious pride - He loved me. He had held onto me and carried me tenderly all along the way and now it wasn't up to me to clean myself up. All I had to do was cooperate - to let go of the junk that was cluttering up my beach and to be allowed to be redefined.
Over the last few years, this is exactly what God has been doing. He has been cleaning up my beach, He's been tearing down the old decayed buildings and clearing away the wreckage. Sometimes I'll pass by a spot that used to be standing and sometimes I think, for better or for worse, I'm not the same person anymore. I have changed a lot since then and the landscape of my faith has drastically changed.
I thought nothing good could ever possibly come out of that storm but from where I sit now - I can say that it has. The Holy Spirit was tearing down some things that needed to be torn down and He has been rebuilding some things that need to be built. Now, all this time later I can say that that storm did me good. It was heartbreaking, but it did me good.
And now that I'm on the other side I want to stand up and say, for everyone who is going through a season of storms, and for anyone who is looking around their own storm-wrecked beach wondering how anything good could ever come out of the storm - yes it can. Something good can come out of this. Something beautiful. You just have to let it. Let the season of testing, of pain and sorrow, trial and suffering, produce something good in you. Try not to fight the pain - just because this hurts doesn't mean that it's bad. And hold onto the hope that God is working good out of this wreck.
I am here to say that through all of my failing and all of my faltering, through all of my flailing around and not believing God to carry me through this trial and storm, through all of my doubt that God could make something beautiful out of this - He loved me. He held onto me and He carried me through the storm and brought me safely to the other side. He cleaned up the mess and He built something new - something beautiful, something better.
Lately, I have noticed that I'm not the only one. I'm not the only person who has gone through really hard things, and I'm not the only one who has had my faith tested. In fact, this seems to be a fairly common thing that ordinary people go through. And so if that's you today - if you feel like your heart looks about like those storm-wrecked beaches of the Atlantic coastline - I want to say to you that God still loves you, and He is for you. Your mess does not separate you from the love of God. Nothing can separate you from the love of God and definitely definitely definitely not a season of struggle. Definitely not being a mess. Definitely not doubt, and definitely not wondering what in the world God is up to in this season of struggle.
So if that is you today, if you feel like you are indeed a storm-wrecked heart. This is what I think God would want to say to you: you are loved and you are not alone. Don't be afraid or ashamed. Come to God and let Him bring back order from your chaos. He will come and make all things new, come to Him in the middle of your mess. Come to Him with all your questions, all of your hurt and all of your aching and anger, and all of your longing and all of your confusion and all of your doubt. He is still here - He never left and through it all God loves you. Just wait, something really good just might come out of this.
And stay tuned because I have another blog post coming about some thoughts about going through a season of storms.
I wrote about my season of storm, and the shame I experienced in the aftermath - I'm calling it Confessions of a Roadkill Christian and it is launching in January. If you want to learn more about it click here.