Friday, April 29, 2011

Faith and Tornadoes

"Faith is...the evidence of things not seen."   --Hebrews 11:1

"True faith drops its letter in the post office box, and lets it go.  Distrust holds on to a corner of it, and wonders that the answer never comes.  I have some letters in my desk that have been written for weeks, but there was some slight uncertainty about the address or the contents, so they are yet unmailed.  They have not done either me or anybody else any good yet.  They will never accomplish anything until I let them go out of my hands and trust them to the postman and the mail.

"This is the way with true faith.  It hands its case over to God, and then He works.  That is a fine verse in the Thirty-seventh Psalm: "Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." But He never worketh til we commit...."  (from Days of Heaven upon Earth, as quoted in Streams in the Dessert)

Two nights ago, I found myself alone with 4 children in our basement as tornado warnings popped up all over the radar screen.  My husband was not home at the time.  He called to instruct me on how to manage the night.  He was insistent that I take the computer down in the basement so that I could constantly keep track of the weather radar.  He and I handle things quite differently. He's methodical and wants to review the facts.  Weather radars give him info he needs.  I, however, truly didn't want to keep track of the radar.  I wanted to prepare as much as we could prepare (hunkering down in the basement) and then sit still and pray and focus on God alone.  Watching the radar only heightens my fears and causes me to look at the storm as Peter did; instead, I wanted to peacefully pass the night in prayer and quiet, focusing instead on my Jesus, the one who calms the storms.  Surrendering my will in this situation was excruciatingly difficult; but, in the spirit of submission (which I'm desperately trying to practice!), I agreed to his plan.  The computer screen, with its awful red boxes of tornado warnings, accompanied us to the basement.  It sat like an unwanted friend just outside the glass door of the office where we settled in for a long night.

Shortly after we were all settled in the basement office, lights flickered and then went dark.  There's nothing more pitch black than a basement with no lights in the middle of a dark stormy night!  With hands reaching for the flashlight, I realized that the tiny lights on the laptop were shining through the glass door.  That unwanted friend was now our night light!  And a calm bathed my mind as it donned on me that, with the electricity off, it was impossible to look at the weather radar.  God was taking care of every detail!  He knew exactly what I needed.  In submitting to my husband's requests, I had gained a night light; and God had arranged the radar screen to no longer be an issue to rattle my nerves.  He is faithful to His Word...if we commit our ways to Him and trust Him, He takes care of the rest.

With wide-eyed children huddled next to me (one of which was crying because he was so scared), I prayed a silent prayer for God to make me solid for my children.  I opened my Bible to Psalm 91 and began to read about God being our refuge.  Then, teaching them how to claim Scriptures, I read it again, turning it into a prayer of faith...praying His Words back to Him...believing that His Word cannot return to Him void.  Faith began to flow.  Crying child settled down and drifted to sleep.  The two oldest children began to talk about missionary stories we had read.  "Mama, I'm scared, but I keep thinking about Nate Saint and how he was in many scary situations but trusted God.  That's what I'm going to do."  "Mama, when I become a missionary and write a book, I'm going to include the story of this night."

Our make-shift tornado shelter in the basement

Ahhh...a light dons in my spirit.  There was a horrible storm beating the outside of our home, but inside God was busy working in hearts.  Solidifying faith.  Letting delicate wings begin to spread.  I leaned my head back and prayed silently as the children began to fall to sleep.

The storm raged outside for 4 hours.  My husband and father-in-law (a former weather man who still has the computers and know-how for observing storms) were tracking the storm closely and looking at the rotation of clouds.  I received text messages several times through the night as they watched the storm.  One phone call told me that the clouds exactly over our house were beginning to rotate, and it was "serious."

My peace evaporated.  My heart began to pound so hard that I felt weak.  My skin felt cold.  This was unedited raw FEAR.  It's the flesh that we just cannot seem to separate ourselves from.  I hung up the phone and sat still in the darkness.  And Peter came to mind...stepping out of the boat, walking...then seeing the waves and sinking.  I didn't want to sink like Peter did.  Don't let me sink now!  I began to picture the face of Jesus in that storm...I pictured myself walking out to him.  I coaxed my mind: "Don't look at the storm...look at His face...He can say 'Peace be still' and calm this entire storm.  Don't listen to the storm.  Don't look at the storm.  Don't focus on the storm.  Look to Him alone.  He alone is my hope."

But with rotating clouds directly above our home, my flesh struggled greatly, even with the pep talk I was giving myself.  My heart still beat wildly.  And it angered me that my faith was not winning out.  Then, I remembered: "REST in Him."  My prayers changed: "God, I want to have faith.  I'm striving to have faith.  But it's not in striving.  It's in resting.  But I cannot even make myself rest in You.  I need YOU to do the whole thing.  I submit myself to you, and I trust you to cause me to rest in You."  I was at the end of myself.  I couldn't will myself...I couldn't strive hard enough...nothing at all in my own power was capable of resting at that moment in time.

And then an unseen warm calm flowed over my entire body.  Words are escaping me, as there really are no human words to describe what happened.  It felt as if warm water...only not water...was flowing over my body...from head to toe...every inch of my being felt a flowing of some sort.  Warm washed over me.  PEACE literally bathed me.  My heart rate slowed to normal pace, and I felt absolutely zero fear.  I was breathing in, breathing calm, complete peace.

The phone beeped with a text.  But nothing at all could invade that supernatural coating of peace.  I felt strength rise inside me...not my strength, but His.  And I realized anew that He is in me.  He was in that room.  Let the storm rage all it wants to, but my God can direct it anywhere He pleases.  Let the storm vent and intimidate, but I was looking only at Jesus...trusting Him at His Word.

And, in that moment, all the weeks of my praying to truly understand the concept of resting in Him were answered.  Sometimes the answers come in the storm.

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