The battle between good and evil has been raging in the Nashville skies today-- err, at least good weather and bad weather! I just released my students from the basement for a tornado warning and I currently am peering outside my office window into a scene of wet, but calm, greenery, accented with the occasional thunder bolt.
I spent some time earlier today during the calm before the storm looking up to the sky as if I were peering into the face of God, asking and trying to predict what the clouds would bring. Where is she going with this? I imagine you asking... well, hold on. I'm not just rambling to ramble, I promise I've got a point.
I've been very blessed lately in very tangible and measurable ways, but it's times like these that I feel that remembering the storms in my life, and anticipating the inedible storms in the future, is really what has made me who I am and what will continue to shape me.
I've been very interested in the vast changes, geographically, in Japan after the tsunami and find it fascinating that one event could so drastically change everything about the affected area so quickly. Interesting, too, how one event, big or small, can so drastically change our own worlds, eroding away what we once had and stripping what we thought we had from us, leaving only the part of us that is most normally buried.
I'm a firm believer that God does not prevent "storms" from happening in our lives, not because He doesn't care about our suffering, on the contrary, I think His heart breaks when our hearts break, but so that we can find Him and His will for our lives through these storms. Someone recently said to me that she is not sure how God could be all powerful, but all merciful at the same time. I honestly and earnestly believe that by not stopping bad things from happening while suffering along with us is what makes Him these things at the same time. Winning in this life is not the reward, but the path to the reward.
We may stumble and suffer through this life, but it is in suffering and stumbling that we find out who we are and, for me at least, who we are in relation to God. This prize is not making it through this life with a healthy paycheck, picket fence, perfect spouse and 2.5 ivy-league quality children, the real prize learning to love the parent that abandoned you, reaching out to the slave that was unfairly treated or mourning with your neighbor after the death of a child so that through these things your understanding of what love really is abounds so deeply within you, that life begins to look on Earth, as it is in Heaven. I believe God is not in the business of making us happy, but in the business of eternal significance. It is through His Son that we have been saved by grace, but through the trials and tribulations that we begin to catch a glimpse of what grace and love really mean.
I'm not suggesting that we revel in misery or bring negative things upon ourselves unnecessarily, but I have learned that the power in loving through the difficult times makes loving in the good times actually mean something. Through coming to terms with through, real life situations and facing challenges with strength, mercy and grace, knowing that even if when it all crumbles down, that God is all you need, you will find a the real prize.
Staring into the the clouds today reminded me of my whole relationship with God and how even in times of proverbial tornadoes on the horizon, He always has been and always will be present through all of it. I have learned that through conflict, problems and pain, God was always there and when I trusted Him, he provided redemption, rebirth and growth. The storms in my life are what made me and stripped away what didn't belong, but I know I never would have changed had I not been allowed to weather the storm. In the end, I'm finding that God does not save us from storms, but He saves us from ourselves through the storms. So, let the rain come.
Go forth and do great good,