Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Lessons from the Blizzard: Pressing on Through the Storm
A few days ago I was driving to Denver for Jonathan's sleep study appointment. When I left town, the skies were clear and it had been a somewhat warm day. The sun had set and darkness settled in its place. Flurries began as I left town. The forecast called for zero accumulation and slight snow showers. I don't drive in snow. I am quite the chicken..unless I am angry...but that is a whole different story. This appointment had just opened up that afternoon and it is nearly impossible to actually have an appointment on a day when Jon is not sick, a requirement for the tests being done. If I had any idea that the weather men would be wrong, I would have never ventured out. Little did I know that the Lord had some huge life lessons in store for me on this cold, snowy, dark night. I guess I should expect Him to respond when I ask questions like...How do you grow your faith????
In between Monument and Castle Rock, I encountered a blizzard. For those of you who drive confidently through this white fluffly stuff, probably no big deal for you. But for me, it was the scariest night I have ever encountered while driving. When my car spun out on an on ramp and headed to the edge of a steep enbankment, all I could think was either God stops this car or Jon and I are going to die. Obviously, I am here to write about it...the car stopped two feet from the edge. The sweet reminder that he who carries me in his hands is alive and active in my life. What follows are the few lessons my adventure left me with...
Sometimes going back is scarier than going forward.
The sleep study tech called me when we were about an hour late for our appointment. She asked if I wanted to turn around and reschedule for a later day. The problem was that I had already driven through what was probably the worst of the storm. I had no idea what was ahead but I knew what was behind. I didn't want to go back through it. This reminded me of where I am in life right now. Life has been hard. Sometimes I feel stuck...I don't like where I am right now. I don't want to go backward. Been there, done that. Didn't like it one bit. But I don't know that I want to go forward either. I don't know what lies ahead. I don't know how long I have to keep going before the sky clears. Fears overwhelm. Yet, I keep going because there is no other choice...as much as I feel incapable of being a good mom, good wife, good friend, good christian...the only choice is to keep going forward and hope that the sky clears soon.
Its a good idea to know who you are following. Sometimes you just can't see anything except the one directly in front of you.
I found myself following behind a semi truck. Probably faulty thinking but I figured if I stayed behind the big guy, I might have some protection, a wider path to follow, and less of a chance of the "big guy" running me over. Following the truck probably created a bigger blizzard than there would have been if I wasn't right behind him but there was security there. Kind of like following Jesus. Sometimes he leads us through some scary situations. Yet, if we know who we are following we can trust that he will make a way in front of us. He will tell us which way we need to go. Just like the grooves on the side of the highway that alerted me that I was heading off the road, so the Lord will alert us when we are veering off the right path. We just have to listen. This situation reminded me of this verse in Isaiah 30:21. It says, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “ This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left." He promises his protection and his blessing if we will just stay behind him and follow where he leads, even if it outwardly gets messy and a little bit scary.
Sometimes you are rescued from the storm and sometimes love tells you to keep going.
When I called my husband and told him I was driving through a blizzard and couldn't even see the road, I told him I should get off the highway and he should come get me. He told me to keep going. What??? Really??? I wanted to ask him if he heard what I said. He told me that it should clear in a few miles. I was just in that infamous Monument Hill area where visibility is swallowed up by a white mass of fluffy stuff. It doesn't always feel like love when we aren't rescued from our pain, fear, or difficult situation, does it? It kind of goes against everything we believe love is. Yet, its in those moments that love doesn't rescue because of the greater good that is going to come out of the experience. Matt Hammit, lead singer for Sanctus Real, reveals this in his song "This is Grace." Matt says, " The reason for our suffering is to help us realize that in sickness and in death we are helpless without Christ." I don't know about you but I continually struggle and need to be reminded that I am helpless without Christ. Storms have a way of reminding me how desperately I need Him. And how little I truly trust him.
This particular snow storm was like the lesson sounding out loudly across the mountainside. I sensed the Lord taking me deeper and asking me do you really believe that I love you? Do you really trust me to do what is best? Do you trust me to make you into the person I want you to be? The only response that seems right in this moment is ..."If you really think its ok, I will keep going."
Sometimes we quit too early.
Sure enough as soon as I passed through Castle Rock and entered the outskirts of Denver, the storm cleared. The ground was simply wet. I could see again. I was glad I had pressed through. I hadn't arrived yet to my destination and there were unseen dangers ahead. But I had made it this far and faced incredible fears at the same time. This lesson can obviously be applied to so many areas of life. Marriage, ministry, friendship, change. The list goes on and on. I wonder sometimes how many blessings and growth opportunites I missed out on because I quit too early.
Just because others are upside down or spinning out of control doesn't necessarily mean you will be too.
Driving down the road towards my destination, the roads became icy and snow packed again. We passed five accidents, several of which had cars upside down on the side of the road. This was not the most effective way to boost my confidence and trust that I would arrive safely. How often does this happen in life? We get distracted and discouraged as we focus on what's going on around us instead of the One we are following. This reminds me of the story of Peter walking on the water. Matthew 14:28-30 tells us how Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus. It says Peter was fine until he looked at the waves and the wind around him. Then he started to sink. He cried out to the Lord who came to his rescue...
Sometimes you DO spin out of control but you will get back on the road.
In the dark, I totally missed our exit. I drove 20 miles past my exit before I realized I had gone too far. Ever have this happen in your own life? I do. Often. Probably too often. The important thing is to turn around when you realize it. If you are like me though, sometimes the turning around makes you dizzy. You realize you have made a mess of things and it feels like you might not be able to ever make it right. The world starts spinning so fast you can't even find which way is the right way. In that moment, we have only one option. To cry out to the Lord. So many times in desperation I have cried out to Him, knowing if he doesn't rescue me and turn me back around I will destroy myself. Everytime I try to be and do on my own, I end up spinning. One day I will realize that only he can make me who he wants me to be. He promises to do what he promises. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 reminds me of this truth. "He who calls you is faithful."
Turning around proved to be even scarier than driving through the storm. My car spun towards the embankment and I had no choice but to trust. Moments later, I was turned right direction and heading towards my goal. Sometimes we get too used to life in the wrong direction. Turning around and doing it right seems harder and scarier than staying in the path of destruction. In those moments I am kind of grateful the Lord loves me enough to allow my world to start spinning until I am ready for him to turn me around.
Lastly, the sun will come out tomorrow.
Driving home the next morning the landscape was completely different. It was amazing how less scarier the world looked in the daylight. Two lessons came from this realization. First, in the midst of desperation and hopelessness, hold on until tomorrow. Psalm 30:5 gives this promise. "Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning." Second, come close to the light. It chases away the darkness. The only way to see things clearly is to find refuge in the light of Jesus. Psalm 57:1 says "For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by."