caught in a storm?

Warning: the following post may include leaving the shallow end and going deeper. This post contains scenes of deep thinking and out of the box concepts. Reader discretion is advised.

This picture was taken from my combine this week. We managed to miss the storm clouds this time but I think someone must have got hit with some rain or hail.

It made me think of another kind of storm. I've heard it said that we are either in a storm, coming out of one, or preparing to go into one. Some storms are small and over quickly, some are deep and dark and go on for a long time. In a storm you get wet, visibility is reduced, you feel cold wind on your cheeks, the sheer power of it may even bring terror. In the Canadian prairie a winter storm can be particularly unpleasant and even deadly. It is not a fun place to find yourself caught in.
There are so many situations in life where we find ourselves caught in a storm. Life feels uncomfortable and our calm surroundings suddenly change and get ugly.
Mark chapter 6, describes a sticky situation Jesus' disciples found themselves in. They were sent ,by Jesus, out to cross an 8 mile stretch of sea. When they were about half way across and when the night was at its darkest they hit a fierce squall. Fierce enough to terrify even those seasoned fisherman.
The things that struck me while reading were:
1. That Jesus sent them out knowing exactly what they would face.
2. He "saw" them in their distress straining at the oars (they never left His watch even though they couldn't see Him).
3.He spent the night on a mountain praying ( I suspect interceding for His friends out in the storm).
4.He went out to them and revealed Himself to them in a new , supernatural and unexpected way.
At the end of the account it says that they were "completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves, their hearts were hardened. "
They had just witnessed Jesus miraculously provide food for several thousand people with a few dinner rolls and some fish jerky. That very evening they were sent out to cross over the sea. I'm sure they were tired from a day of providing crowd control. They would have preferred to set up camp for the night but the Lord had other plans for them. They hadn't 'got it' and their schooling wasn't going to end until they did. Jesus wasn't about to let them pass into the next grade spiritually with their hard hearts. They were still showing themselves too similar to the legalistic finger pointing pharasees who had God neatly boxed up with their own self sufficiency and self righteousness.

We often ask why God allow trials and times of trouble in the lives of those who call him Lord. In the lives of those He calls his own. What are we supposed to do when we find our selves in the middle of a storm?

When God puts you in a situation that you can't get yourself out of....chances are He doesn't want you to. He has something for you to learn (or unlearn) and He is up to something. Something big. He wants to show you God sized deliverance. And usually that deliverance comes in the most unexpected way.

God allows difficult circumstances and trials in our life because He is more concerned with our growth and spiritual maturity than He is our comfort. The things we face have been allowed to touch us through His sovereign will. They have already been filtered through His love...as difficult as that is to understand at times.

He wants us to graduate from milk fed baby Christians to meat and potato Christians. (really, that is in the Bible) He wants us to be tried and true disciples instead of merely pew warmers.
We've got to cut our teeth though.

The storms give us the chance to put into practice what we know and what we have heard. Its easy to say we should love each other but its not so easy when someone leaves you feeling hurt or angry. Its easy to say that we trust God , but can we trust him when all control is taken from us? We can say we want to obey but what if obedience to God costs us something? (which ,by the way, it always does), Its easy to say that we should forgive like God forgave us, but what if we don't think someone deserves our forgiveness?
It suddenly gets tricky when we face one of Gods pop quizzes. Can we praise Him in the storm?
Spiritual discernment is developed by facing the trials of life as a humble student instead of a whiner, a quiter or a cynic.
Can we give thanks in all circumstances? ( not necessarily FOR all circumstances but in them)

The fiercer the storm we face the bigger the work God wants to do in our lives.
If nothing else, we can thank Him for what we know He is going to do, even if we can't see it through the rain.

Trials reveal character and have a way of bringing out things in us that we would rather not deal with. Things that in smooth sailing are easy to hide beneath the surface. In order to go into a deeper relationship and a stronger faith we must take account of what is being revealed in us. We must allow what is hidden to be illuminated and then purged. Let Him make us like purified gold.

When there is no storm, no crises, no trial we think we can get by pretty well on our own. It is when we face a storm that it is instantly revealed on whom we rely. Whether it is ourselves or God. If in the calms of life we have been learning to worship and rely on God then the storm will not break our confidence in Him. If we have been putting everything else in life ahead of God; the storm will shake us off of our foundation and we will struggle and strain to find solid footing.

The most important thing to do when faced with confusion, stress and heartache is to focus entirely on the One who knows the situation intimately , the One who loves us deeply , and the One in whom we can place our trust.
One misconception in the Christian life is that once we obey He will lead us to great success. Jesus fisherman friends obeyed (even though I'm sure they would have rather spent the night in a cozy bed somewhere) but instead of a peaceful crossing they were stuck in gridlock in the middle of a fierce storm. We need to get out of our minds the notion that God is leading us to a particular end, to a certain success (by human standards)..sometimes his purpose may be the complete opposite or something completely unexpected. It may be the journey, the lessons learned and the act of obedience itself that is His purpose for us. What we call the process , God calls the end. It is the process not the end that brings glory to God. Unfortunately , it's way too often that we subscribe to the rhetoric that the "end justifies the means". We figure it doesn't matter how we act, speak or treat one another because we have some pursuit of justice or a particular end in mind.
His purpose is that we depend on Him and His power now. Are we able to stay in the middle of the storm and remain unperplexed and undisturbed? (not emotionally detached but maintain a supernatural peace). Is our confidence in a mighty God unshaken? That is the purpose of God.
We have nothing to do with the outcome of obedience. Obedience is the end. If we always have a further end in view we cannot see God working in the now. We miss completely the springs of refreshment, the shelter and blessings that will lead us through the storm.
When there is no shore in sight, and we have ceased to "strain at our oars", it is then that we will be able to see the Lord walking toward us on the waves.
God's purpose is to enable us to see that He can walk on the chaos in our lives. And it is in faith that we can step out of the boat we are so frantically bailing water from and walk undisturbed to His outstretched hand.
"Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we do not yet know Him." Oswald Chambers

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Linda said...

Excellant Post!
All of us will be caught in the midst of storms at one time or another, and we need to remember that God has a purpose and a plan for us.

Thanks for the reminder that obeying God through the storms should be our goal.

That we should look for what God is wanting us to learn through the storms.

And that we can always rely on Him,...no matter what.

He doesn't promise us that we will never face trials,...only that He will be with us in the midst of them.

What comfort that brings!

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Christy said...

"When God puts you in a situation that you can't get yourself out of....chances are He doesn't want you to. He has something for you to learn (or unlearn) and He is up to something. "

What a contrary thought to how we view trials - my natural bent is "Why me? How could God let this happen"? Amazing perspective - thank you, Carla!

Angela said...

This has been our journey this year and it is such an encouragement to read these words...sometimes it is just nice to know that we are not alone in the following Jesus in the storms. There are days when we long for "this part" of the journey to be over to get to the "good part" or "easier part" but we have been seeing over and over again that it is about what we are learning about God and ourselves in the journey that is so amazing not about "the end." It is hard but also the harder I cling and so so rich.... Thank you for writing...you have such a gift.