Sunday, September 07, 2008

On Weathering Storms

I was sure by now,
That you would have reached down,
And wiped our tears away.
Stepped in and saved the day,
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

Why is it that that we wait until we're in so deep before we go to the place we should have been all along? We have to wait to get burned before we step away from the fire, or hit the bottom before we try to climb out of the well.

At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to spend more time with God.  To pray more.  To read His Word more.  And I've been praying at least once a day.  And, at least over the last several months, I've been picking up my Bible at least a few times a week. But I've known that's not a real commitment. Though it's more commitment than I've had most of the 3-and-a-half decades I've been around.

Throughout the last month, though, I've stepped up my commitment. Praying has become nearly an hourly thing (or at least several times a day). And reading has become at least a daily thing. What's prompted me to become so disciplined?  Is it because I'm spiritual?  Is it just because I made the decision to be disciplined and I'm sticking to it?

No.  It's because of external circumstances creating an intense need to figure out how to keep God as an integral part of my life - not just an afterthought. Over the past month, my job's become extremely stressful. The kind of stress that makes you obsess.  Obsessing through nearly every waking hour.  And some of the sleeping ones.  From the time the feet hit the floor in the darkness of the early morning to the time the head hits the pillow in the darkness of the late evening. Every thought consumed - in the shower, having dinner with family, even when watching a movie or trying anything to try to tear my mind away from the constant compulsive thought. Jesus said, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Why can't I do that? I've begun to empathize with David, when he wrote things like
O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
In the midst of all this, a couple weeks ago, I was reading about Solomon's great grandson Asa. He was fighting for God, and at one point, God told him, Be strong, and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.  I don't really believe in coincidence. And though sometimes it's hard to connect with a God who I cannot touch, who seems to far away to my closed eyes and unlistening ears, I know He's there, He's listening, and He talks to us.

And I've finally found some peace, some relief. I finally figured out that there are things in our lives that we need God's strength to overcome. So I've begun to scratch the surface of what Paul means when he says, Pray without ceasing.  To get a glimmer of what Moses is talking about when he says,  Memorize God's laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.  And at last, Thursday night, even though work hasn't much changed, I was sitting having dinner with my family, enjoying the time spent with my wife, daughter, and son.  And it was the first time in nearly 5 weeks that I was truly relaxed, living in the moment, without the nagging thoughts in the back of my head.

I wish I had realized some of these things before getting into situations like this.  Like sometime in the last 37 years. But then, I guess sometimes we need adversity to strengthen us. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James wrote that.)

As the thunder rolls,
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you.”
And as You mercy falls,
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives,
And takes away.

It's always frustrating when you pour your soul into a bit of writing and it's taken away.  It's nearly impossible to get back the original flavor of something after you've recorded it the first time.  I finished writing this nearly an hour ago and just before I published it, Internet Explorer crashed.  About that time I remembered that this version of Blogger doesn't automatically save, so I had to recreate the entire thing from scratch.  A fitting final paragraph to this post, I think.

The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

(Lyrics from Praise You in This Storm, by Casting Crowns)


  1. it's encouraging to hear your spiritual walk is being strengthened. read the lyrics to this song by bebo THE HAMMER HOLDS. these lyrics will hit home to you in the place your in.

  2. Jim, I hope the job situation gets better. I'm glad your faith helps you make it through difficult times (in the work field...)

  3. Gena - I found a snippet of that song! I like - I'll have to borrow your CD :) If you have it.

    Jud - thanks! It's been a rough road, but God makes for a strong ally...