I pulled out a four-year-old journal yesterday and read for hours. My journals are a hodge-podge of dreams, pain, prayers, revelations, and day-to-day happenings, so you might expect my experience to be what it partly was… a bittersweet realization of dreams that didn’t come true… a reliving of the pain I felt when my mother died, or when marriage wasn’t much fun… smiles and laughter at renewed memories of when my kids were four years younger.
But I got something else I certainly didn’t expect. As I read prayers I’d poured out to God about struggles in my marriage… struggles in my personal walk with Him… struggles with doubt and worry when money was tight… I was filled with praise and awe. You see, the Katie who wrote those words is not the Katie who is writing these to you now. And the man I’m married to isn’t the same now, as he was then.
I was in awe at just how much God has done in my husband and I in four years. Somehow, in the midst of never-ending petitions over struggles that are still ongoing, I had totally forgotten about those that had disappeared. I’m afraid that in many of them, God’s deliverance had been so subtle and gentle that I never even recognized it when it came… being by then consumed with the new storm that was hovering on the horizon.
But that deliverance had come! As I read my own words of pain on days when things seemed unbearable, and as I remembered just how hopeless that situation seemed, I realized with a start that somewhere along the line, God had moved! He’d moved in my husband and He’d moved circumstances, but most of all, He’d moved in me. He’d made me into a person that could no longer be intimidated by that particular variety of storm.
Life is full of storms. Everyone knows that. But not everyone knows what it means to go through those storms with God watching over you. Sometimes we don’t even realize what it means to have God there in the middle of our storms.
The world sees people who claim to be Christians, yet who are drowning and dying without hope, and they come to the conclusion that Christians are pretenders. I certainly won’t deny that there are a wealth of pretenders out there, of all varieties.
Others see people who they think live charmed lives, and they come to the conclusion that it’s easy for those people to love God… God’s never let anything happen to them. Surely they’ll think differently when a real storm comes their way. Yet, as Darla so accurately stated, “The intensity of the storm is the same for each of us, no matter how any of us sees it. If it brought you to your knees, if you cried, if you felt the desperation, if it looked like the bottom feel out and felt like it too, if the walls were closing in, if the night felt like it would never end…it was a storm.”
The world has also seen the full force of storms that some Christians have gone through, and they wonder why those Christians haven’t given up on a God who let that storm come just the same. The answer is based on what happens in the center of that storm… what happens when the wind is howling at its loudest and fiercest, and God meets you and breathes into your spirit the strength that you needed far more than the easy calm that you had before the storm… what happens when you emerge from a storm and realize how God carried you through it, and that the reward is worth every bit of pain you went through.
And so was birthed Storm Stories. I’m not sure exactly how my sister met Nor, but that’s not important. What’s important is that God led him to collect and offer, throughout the month of January, storm stories of Christians who were willing to offer a window into the middle of their storm… to offer the world not only the assurance that Christians do go through storms, but also show them why we don’t give up on a God that allowed those storms in the first place.
I’ve been reading them as Nor has posted them, one or two each day, and working on choosing which storm story I will share when my turn comes later this month. But after I read Cindy’s story on Thursday, then Rachel’s story today, I realized that I need to share these stories with those of you who might not have already found them.
Go ahead. Read Cindy’s story. Read Rachel’s story. Read the others in case different stories speak to you. Then write your own. Give yourself a record of what God has brought you through, and allow Him to show you what you gained by it. Or if you’re in the middle of your own storm, get on your knees before Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will!