Some of the most beautiful sunsets come in the wake of an intense storm.
It’s the perfect stage for those awe-inspiring views. Clouds on the horizon, moisture in the air, clarity for miles – then the light hits it just right and it takes your breath away.
As I sat admiring one of these spectacles, something I believe God made just for us to enjoy, I realized what a parallel into our lives it is.
How many times do I go through a storm in my circumstances – the kind that I’m worried my little car won’t make it home in – only to come out on the other side in awe of what happened?
Over a break in college, I drove across state to visit my grandma. It was a pretty great visit – we had girl time, made green smoothies and watched Ever After, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. The weekend came to an end and I got up early to leave, only it was raining pretty hard.
I thought to myself, oh, I’ll be fine! I’ve driven in the rain before! Off I went into the darkness despite the warning signals going off in my head. I kid you not, the road was covered in 3 inches of rain, but I thought, “surely it will clear up and I’ll be fine.” I got to the freeway and literally could not see a thing for the wall of water coming down.
I was determined though and set on my course so obviously turning back was not an option.
It was time to take a turn for a side highway that would shoot me out onto the main one back home. At this point, I was pretty nervous. I’m on high alert as I can barely make out the road in front of me. I think I’m doing pretty good when I hit a body of water. I’m going 65mph in the pouring rain of the dark, early morning, and my little 4 cylinder car hits a literal river in the road.
Freaking out puts in mildly. My car slows down to 40mph as water rushes over the top of my car. I am screaming, “JESUS!” at the top of my lungs over and over again. After what seemed like an eternity (when in reality was only a few seconds) I emerged on the other side hysterical. I start screaming at God, “Please don’t make me do that again!” repeatedly as I am crying. Shortly after I pull over at the next stop and catch my breath.
The rain stopped shortly after and the rest of the drive home was simply beautiful. I thought back over the stressful first hour of my trip and had to wonder at God’s protection. That could seriously have ended badly. I found out later that shortly after I left town, they declared a state of emergency because of how much rainfall they were getting and closed the roads down due to the hazardous travel conditions.
I learned some powerful lessons on that trip. One, don’t start travelling in a torrential downpour especially when you drive a tiny little car that can’t handle extreme weather. Secondly, I learned how stubborn I can be. God put the spotlight on my self-sufficiency masquerading as independence – the “I don’t need anyone’s help, I can do all things on my own” desperately needed to be brought into the light and dealt with.
It took an intense situation, one that I would have avoided if I had known all the details beforehand, to bring out a problem area in my life.
God knew I needed to get self-sufficiency out of my life so that I could live a life of surrender in God. He used a trying circumstance to bring me face to face with the condition of my heart. It was critical for this to happen, or control would’ve kept me on the throne of my heart instead of allowing God to have that rightful place. I was trusting in myself, not God.
Of course he was going to allow me to experience that so it could lead to a greater level of freedom and ultimately, intimacy with God.
That’s what he is after in the end, our hearts. He uses the trying circumstances in our lives, the storms, to be the thing that dislodges the thorns in our hearts. Trials are uncomfortable, hard and stretching – and exactly what we need to make us better people.
God uses the storms in our lives to bring about breathtaking beauty. The breathtaking beauty is us friends. It’s us healed and whole and running free.
This new year, I invite you to join me as I take a look back at some of the hard situations I’ve had to go through this past year and ask God what he was doing in the midst of it. Let’s take some inventory and see how we’ve grown and how we still need to grow. If there’s one resolution I want to have this year and every year for the rest of my life it’s to get rid of everything keeping me from growing closer to Jesus; because really, there is no greater thing to strive for.