Am I the storm?

Fate whispers to the warrior,
“you cannot withstand the storm.”
The warrior whispers back,
“I am the storm.”

~Unknown

When I came across this quote, it really struck me as a powerful way to combat the fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and sheet exhaustion that goes along with the battle with cancer. While I’m not the one with the horrid disease, when cancer strikes, it affects the entire family. So to read this quote seem like it would be empowering, right? We look fate square in the eye, lean in close and, with an antagonistic smirk, declare we are the storm.

I don’t know about you, but left to my own capabilities, I am anything but the storm. In fact, left on my own, I tend to struggle to stay afloat in the pity puddle created through worry, fear and anxiety. And closely related to those are the ugly cousins of resentment, irritation and impatience.

Left on my own, this is more what I tend to do.
I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest. ~Psalm 55:8

No, as much as I would like to identify as a warrior who can confidently take on what may be considered the lies of Fate (or the Devil in some quote variations), I cannot do it alone. I am wonderful at talking the talk, but sometimes walking the walk is a completely different story.

I need the rest of the army….and let’s throw in some marines, navy seals and air force fighter pilots as well. And let’s make sure the commander is one worthy of taking on the brewing storm.

Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. ~Exodus 15:6

That ideal Commander-in-Chief would be the one who not only has the power to create the storm, but the one who also is sovereign over the storm.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. ~Matthew 8:24-26

And that army of warriors? Those would be everyone who has come to our aid in prayer. And, we have awesome prayer warriors…from here in our church to across the country…and jumping across the pond as well. Without these intercessions, I assure you we would be feeling more overwhelmed and lost than we already feel now.

Some days I feel strong and fearless in the eye of the storm. But then there are the days when I feel like a single drop just might drown me. Lately, some complications have arisen that are testing both our patience and resolve. And, I can confidently say I’m somewhat terrified. And, there are many nights after he’s asleep where I find myself feeling overwhelmingly sad that there’s a chance all the plans we’ve made for the future just might never happen.

So, am I the storm? Not hardly. But when I’m aligned with the one who created and has the power to calm the storm…and with those who know how to use the powerful weapon of prayer…and the mere mortals in whose hands we put our health care….

…we can become the perfect reciprocal storm.

Playing along with others over at Peabea’s Pictorial Tuesday.

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Z is for Zacharias

Photo by Luigi Morante

Photo by Luigi Morante

You’re joking, right? Says Zacharias with a hearty laugh.

Now, you may think he is responding to a joke….but it’s anything but a joke. Zacharias is one of the temple priests in Jerusalem. As one of 7,000 priests, he travels to Jerusalem a few times a year and takes his turn living in the temple, carrying out his priestly duties.

One day, as he is burning incense in the inner chamber, the archangel, Gabriel appears beside the alter. Not really a common occurrence while serving in the temple, so Zacharias is caught a bit off-guard.

Gabriel had a message from God for Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth. They have longed for children but life had not been kind to them in this area. Now they are older….well past child bearing years. Gabriel’s speaks and tells Zacharias they will have a son.

So now you can understand why Zach LOLed at Gabriel’s message. He has forgotten the story of Abraham and Sarah; forgotten that God tends to come in when everything looks hopeless; forgotten that God always makes good on His promises one way or another.

For a temple priest, this behavior is simply not acceptable. Because of his very vocal doubt, Gabriel strikes him deaf and mute, unable to hear and speak until after the baby is born. And that is a promise God keeps as well.

After Zacharias returns home, Elizabeth does conceive just as Gabriel said she would. Elizabeth and Mary, Jesus’s mother, are cousins and when the two pregger women get together to compare nursery room themes, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumps when in the presence of Mary’s unborn son.

Three months later a baby boy is born to Elizabeth and Zacharias, and Liz decides (with Gabriel’s prompting) to name him……John.

John? The neighbors and relatives are confused. John isn’t a recorded name in their family. What is she thinking? This son should be named after his father. Puzzled, they look to Zacharias for answers, who immediately grabs his writing tablet and tells everyone, His name is John. The meaning behind the name John is, the Lord is gracious.

Immediately, upon completion of the prophesied baby’s birth and dedication, Zacharias’ voice and hearing is restored.

We know this baby as John the Baptist…a cousin of Jesus who lived in the wilderness and prophesied about the coming Messiah.

Now back to Zacharias. Zach was obviously a man of God. He prayed and tried his best to be a good Jewish  man. With his and Elizabeth’s inability to have a child, he brought their petition to God. He continued to pray even as they aged and the idea of having a son began to look completely hopeless. In his heart, he may have simply given up…thinking God simply didn’t care or want him to have a son. His faith had been weakened by year after year of disappointment. This is when Gabriel shows up…to prove that nothing is impossible with God. That in the face of impossible and improbably odds, great things can happen.

But our situations are different, right?
Our situations are impossible to fix.
Our disappointments are too much to overcome.
Our lives are too messy to be straightened out.

Right?

Linking up with ABC Wednesday

And with this entry, my ABC-bible style collection is completed.
Click HERE to read my other posts.

Photo attribution: Photo by Luigi Morante, from IM Free photo site. Some rights reserved by Creative Commons license. Orignal photo was cropped and retouched for purposes of this post.

 

 

 

Hello, my name is…..

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We’ve all met them. They’re the ones that patiently stalk us….waiting.

Then, at just the perfect time, they introduce themselves and, if we’re not careful, move into the extra bedroom and become permanent renters in our lives.

And spiritual warfare begins. I see you rolling your eyes. But you know I’m right. There are forces in this world whose soul purpose is to destroy our happiness and security. They take their responsibilities very seriously and do a magnificent job. After all, these forces have the advantage of centuries to perfect their craft. Their resources and knowledge span time and eternity. And often, since we only have a short amount of time on this earth to learn how to combat their tactics, we’re powerless to stop them.

Hello, my name is Regret, and I’m quite positive we’ve met.
How much of our lives are wasted looking backwards and feeling sad about the things we’ve done…or not done. Regret robs us of moving forward towards brighter hopes and dreams. Regret would much prefer us to wallow in misery and throw a perpetual pity party. When we’re fixated on our past, it’s oh so easy to overlook the positive things going on in our lives. I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes. Acknowledging and using the past to help chart out a better future is a constructive way to approach life. I’m saying that partying too much with Regret can be counterproductive to anything pro-active. Think of it like an endless hangover.

Hello, my  name is Guilt, let me destroy the life you’ve built.
You’ve heard of the buddy system? Well, Guilt seems to always be tagging along with Regret, hoping to benefit from the swath of destruction. After Regret is finished, Guilt tends to stick around to make sure we never forget the terrible decisions we’ve made in the past. Even if we’ve taken steps to rectify our mistakes, Guilt loves to drag them back out, putting them front and center at every opportunity…through our own self-defeating attitude, or through others who won’t let us ever live down what we’ve done.

Hello, my name is Doubt, and I’ll help you sort it all out.
But, what if….
is the calling card of Doubt. By strategically offering what seems to be viable alternatives, Doubt is always stirring the pot of happiness, hoping it will boil over and ruin everything. And many times we’re oblivious to what just happened. Sometimes Doubt relishes the idea of using our intellect to help rationalize or justify our thinking, masking the truth. Then it twists our arm so we pat ourselves on the back on how smart we are. Doubt sometimes brings a clever little helper called Worry to ensure we don’t lose focus on all the negative possibilities and outcomes.

Hello, my name is Defeat, and I’m almost impossible to beat.
Defeat….that point when we just give up and give in. Defeat is sort of like being introduced to The Closer. In sales, The Closer is the one who seals the deal. The Closer gains the trust of the prospect and, in turn, makes the decision to buy an easy one. Defeat quietly buddies up to us and spends a lot of time getting to know our fears and faults…all the time whispering in our ear so not to be too noticeable. Then, Defeat creates a seamless method for us to just give up and lose hope in the future. Defeat fills our heads and hearts with trash talk, leaving little room for much else. SCORE, and the deal is sealed.

Hello, my name is Hope, and I can knot the end of your rope.
When Regret, Guilt, Doubt and Defeat are laughing as we dangle at the end of our rope, it’s time to call for rescue. And our rescuer is always Hope. Hope is the one that ties a secure knot so we don’t completely slip off the rope into the abyss. Hope points us towards a confident expectation of the future. And Hope always introduces us to Faith…in something. Consider Hope and Faith a saving Dynamic Duo because when we have hope, we begin to have faith the future will be better than the present.

But Hope and Faith rarely travel alone. They always bring an entourage that includes Grace, Love, Trust, Mercy and Forgiveness. For me, Hope and Company always bring a sense of peace to my life…even when it seems like it’s spiraling out of control. With them, I live not by random chance, but as a child of God with a clear destination. I am free to live my life without being manipulated by Regret, Guilt, Doubt and Defeat.

With Hope and Faith, I can learn from my mistakes and moments of weakness. I can look at terrible things that have happened to me and trust they’ve happen for a purpose. God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness are always my bodyguards when Regret, Guilt, Doubt and Defeat come calling.

Hello, my name is….

Who is stalking you?

T is for (doubting) Thomas

No one ever claimed Thomas was the life of the party. As sort of a glass-half-empty type of person, Thomas was the consummate pessimist.

And who could blame him? He left the security of a steady job at the fishery and went on a three-year journey thinking this Jesus person was going to change everything. No more Roman rule! Yippee! We’re free!

But then the unthinkable happened. Jesus went and got himself charged, convicted and crucified. And all of Thomas’ hopes and dreams died with him. He’s in shock and disbelief. His world has fallen apart and he’s so disillusioned that he won’t even meet with his buddies for an evening meal. But something happened at that evening meal that changed the course of history. A risen-from-the-dead JC appeared to his Apostles behind locked doors, just in time for dinner. Sort of gives new meaning to the phrase, Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner, doesn’t it.

But when told about the unexpected dinner guest, Thomas would have none of it. He simply can’t get over what he saw with his own eyes. After all, he saw his Lord die; saw him buried; saw the stone rolled in place at the tomb entrance and sealed. There is no way what they were telling him could be true. Simply. No. Way. In fact, Thomas is so sure of himself that he throws down an ultimatum and says he won’t believe until he can see the nail marks with his own eyes. Thomas is a very visual learner.

A week later, as Doubting Thomas is back dining with his buddies in that same locked room, it happened again. In the middle of dinner, Jesus appears….this time specifically for Thomas’ benefit. But does JC chastise him for his unbelief? Does he criticize or berate him? No. He simply holds out his hands for Thomas to see and touch the nail marks. As Thomas dissolves in tears and crumbles to the floor, Jesus says to him, Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. ~John 20:26-29

But did Thomas’ doubt have a purpose? He followed Jesus for two years and, as part of his inner circle, he was as close to him as a brother. Perhaps his doubt is not a lack of faith, but of a need to have faith based on facts, not myth.

Christians are expected to have faith in the sovereign power of God, but I’m not sure God expects us to have blind faith…to have faith without true understanding. While Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, I have a hard time thinking we’re not suppose to use our powers of reasoning and think through a situation when we find ourselves in doubt. When faced with those situations, we need to remember God’s nature as a faithful God; remember His promises; and then act accordingly.

Thomas did use his reasoning, but forgot the promises. Only when he was presented with undeniable proof, did it all begin to click.

It’s said that after that encounter Thomas covered a lot of ground in his ministry to spread the Gospel. As an eye-witness to both the dead and resurrected Jesus, he traveled the area known today as Iraq, Iran and India and established many Christian churches.

Throughout Scripture, we find that reasoning, wisdom, and logic are regarded as good gifts. We’re created with the ability to think and reason, and are encouraged to learn and discover truths. Time after time, Jesus rebukes those who refuse to grow in their knowledge and understanding.

There are times in our lives when we need to rely on faith because we can’t see the the whole picture. But during these times our faith is far from blind. It’s a faith based on what we can see of the nature of God’s character, and remembering the promises he’s made throughout the centuries.

Perhaps that is the lesson we should learn from Thomas and his temporary doubt.

Linking up with ABC Wednesday