For Sandy, who gave me this idea, and whom I love with an undying love.
From Wence Cometh the Storm?
My favorite Hymn is “It is Well”, especially lately. It seems like I have needed this Hymn a lot these past few months.
What has happened? I have lost my family. I have lost my love. My identity was stolen twice. The plans I had made for the future of my family were destroyed in one fell swoop.
In the end, I was left with nothing, alone, bereft, broken. The pain of these losses is almost unbearable. Grief and confusion are powerful things. This grief is all consuming and threatens to smash the ship of my soul against the breakers. I am lost, with no mooring, with no GuideStar, with no compass. Everything I believed about love and family been betrayed by falsehoods and deception. The hopes I had for the future have been taken away from me.
This storm and confusion has taken hold of me and relentlessly tears my sails away. I have lost my anchor. I am taking on water. Where will I find that shore? Where is my mooring? Who will rescue me from this storm?
On top of this, if you know anything about Aspergers, you know that one so afflicted usually needs a “normal” to be the touchstone to all things normal. My touchstone is the woman I love, who is no longer part of my life. This too adds waves to my storm. My ship is being battered by things that normal people deal with as if only a gentle breeze were blowing. Without the touchstone, it doesn’t matter how “High Functioning” you are, some things simply do not make sense to you.
Where Do I Hide From the Storm?
If you run from the deck of your ship to the belly of your ship, you are still in the middle of the storm. So, where do you turn? How do you find your way back to safety, to the shore? Where is the touchstone? Where is your Guidestone? Where are safety and peace?
“Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me, and when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me. I will let you find me.” Jeremiah 29:12-14a.
One of the hardest things to realize is that even these things are for a purpose. It’s hard to remember the greater good when you are being torn to shreds by your own circumstances. It ceases to matter why you are in this storm. It can be a storm of your own making (Which is usually the case) or a storm brought on by the selfish desires of people you depended on. Or this storm could be the plan of evil people who delight in your destruction for their own advancement. It ceases to matter when your ship is taking on water, and your sails are gone. At this juncture, all you can do is hang on to the nearest mast, lash yourself to it, and pray.
Screaming At the Storm Doesn’t Help.
I tore my clothes (I only got more exposed to the storm that way).
I cursed the waves and the wind.
Then I prayed for the storm to take me. I welcomed the sweet release of death. I wanted it all to be over. The storm had won. I had lost.
I discovered that screaming at the storm only makes you hoarse. The storm doesn’t care. The storm rages on whether you love it or hate it. Storms always do what storms do…wreak havoc. That is what storms do.
So, what is left? Tied to my mast, getting drenched, broken in spirit, all I had left was to wait and let the storm do what the storm does.
Be Careful Where You Turn
I turned to fellow believers.
In America, fellow believers are too busy being American to let things like storms in other people’s lives divert them from their lives. Afterall, it isn’t their storm, and God must have placed you (The Sailor) in that storm for a reason.
Best not to interfere with the storm.
What you, my fellow believers, fail to realize is, the storm exists to expose the heart of the sailor, and your heart. Indifference is not the fruit of the spirit. Berating the sailor in the storm is not a fruit of the spirit. Lecturing the sailor in the fine craft of Seamanship while the storm rages is not a fruit of the spirit. Pulling out the Sailor’s “The Art of Sailing Manual” and lecturing on all the shoulda coulda and woulda is not a fruit of the spirit (Or have you not read Job?)
So, where does this battered sailor turn when all hope is lost?
Deep in the midst of the howling wind and blowing rain is a still small voice. She is the voice of the Holy Spirit. She calls you into the presence of God. She reminds you that you are His beloved, whom He died for.
God is there, waiting for you to stop fighting the storm. The storm is not the problem. Storms come to everyone for any number of reasons. But to the lives of His children, even the storm is meant to be a blessing (See Romans 8:28). Storms sweep the deck of useless things. Storms shake up your life in a way that forces you to take stock of what is important.
And what is it that God, my Father has said to me?
BE STILL and Know I Am God.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psa 46:10 WEB)
“God is mighty. God is infinite. God is Love. God is ever-present, even in our storms.”
That is what He said to me.
In my arrogance, I railed against God and shouted, “Lord, am I ever seeking you?”, “Do I not always pray, read your word, listen for you?”, “Where are you, Father?” ,”God, I am done with my life, please bring me home.”
He let me know that He is why my ship has not sunk to the depts of the sea. He is why the Leviathan has not attacked me. He is what protects me from falling to my death. He is why I am still alive.
He is not done with me.
I asked Him, “Then why has my love betrayed me, why have I lost everything dear to me?”
He tells me, “You have Me. That is sufficient.”
I don’t feel like that is an answer.
Then something remarkable happens.
Even though the storm still rages, and my ship is being battered into toothpicks, all grows quiet.
A light penetrates the darkness.
He has arrived.
His hands are scarred from something that had pierced them. His eyes are so full of love and compassion, I cannot stand to look at him. I am undone. I can’t hide from Him.
He stops right in front of me, where I am lashed to the Main Mast. He looks at me with a love and compassion I have never, ever known before.
He tells me to stop fighting Him.
He tells me that the point in Being Still is to cease my useless striving after answers.
Be still…don’t move.
Stop trying to make it make sense.
Just…be, and know that He is God, not just of all the universes, but of my heart.
I will not tell you everything else He told me, but I will tell you this:
When you Be Still, and stop trying to put God in your little religious box, when you let Him into your storm, when you capitulate and know that your efforts are useless, when you give in and trust that He has your best interests at heart, that storm you tried to hide from becomes a ride that you relish.
You know that as Long as you be still and trust Him, no matter how things look to you, He is your Captain, and he will guide you through the breakers to a land full of His promise and purpose.
The difference is how much you try to fight the storm, or how well you stop fighting God.
I recently told Sandy, “Really and truly, All I want is less of me and more of Him. But I must be doing this all wrong. The more I try, the farther away He seems.”
I was trying on my own might. Not only that, I was trusting others, and not God for direction.
Life is full of storms.
Your spouse will eventually let you down, maybe even betray you.
You may make and lose fortunes.
You will have friends and lose friends.
You will end up in places where you are utterly alone, in a hostile environment, with no one you can really call a brother.
I confess, I relied on all these trappings for my sense of place and belonging.
I cannot be less of me unless I first am still. God has to do the work. I have to submit.
I needed my deck cleared of all that stands between God and me.
I confess I am useless and hopeless without him. I confess I made the mistake of using others to anchor me. God has allowed this storm to clear away all the things that stand between Him and me.
The first part of knowing that He is God is to be still…to stop striving…to stop your own efforts.
God will reveal himself to the heart that diligently seeks Him, but it first begins with being still. Being diligent doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself, it means that you diligently submit your desires, will, and understanding to Him.
The Hebrew words for “Be Still” imply a rich tapestry of meaning: To stop moving (Of one’s own passionate volition), to stop acting out and to stop speaking. To leave off your striving, to capitulate over to the knowledge that He alone is God.
When the Lord appears to you in your storm, you have begun to be still. When His love washes over you, the storm takes on new meaning and purpose. Instead of fighting all that has happened, you finally get to the place where you trust He will guide you through this, and He has a purpose for this, too.
God does not send evil your way. Evil will still come to you. Storms happen. It no longer matters if you brought on the storm, or sailed right into it, or were minding your own business when the storm suddenly appears (they do that when you re at sea).
God will take advantage of your circumstances and show His love and His might, and He will guide you through this. No matter what brought on the Storm, if you will submit to His Lordship in your life, you will see that even this pain, this grief, this sorrow, will bring you closer to Him, and make you like Him, and He will teach you how even this bitter grief serves the Kingdom.
My storm is still there. My sorrow is ever as deep as it ever was. My tears still fall, and the pain is still ever present. But I now know, He gathers all my tears in a bottle and will exchange them for His Joy.
Storms have to run their course.
However, in this storm, I have learned that all my vain striving is wasted and that I must fail, and accept that I have failed. No man can know God unless God reveals Himself to that man.
I have also learned that Heaven cannot be taken by storm, only by invitation. But I first must be still. He makes the pain and tears and sadness and loss take on a new meaning. We grieve for the loss of true love, but God will heal that hurt, if you just be still.
I cannot know the Lord unless I am still.
The Lord wants you to know Him, too.
Just be still….
I love you in Jesus.
PS – I love you, Sandy. No matter what. I love you, and I always will. No man can take that away from me. I pray God leads you to your new life. I will always love you.