It is amazing to me how quickly storms can pop up in our lives! Sometimes it’s literal storms, like what happened to me on Sunday. I was driving home from Kearny when it started to rain. Pretty soon it looked like there was some hail mixed in with the rain, but I wasn’t sure. Then the hail got bigger and was so thick that I couldn’t see very far ahead of my car. I pulled over and put on my emergency flashers. Before I knew it, the hail was smashing into my car and covering the road. I sat there listening to the roar. Then I noticed that I was parked in a low spot, and a lot of water was flowing past me. When the hail started to ease off, I decided that it was time to move on.
The rest of the drive varied off and on from no rain to pouring rain. When I arrived back in Sahuarita I stopped for gas in preparation for another long trip the next day. When I left the gas station I noticed that some of the roads were starting to flood. I was very grateful to get on the road that leads to our neighborhood. Then I saw that some cars were stopped. Not a good sign! That is when I saw deep water and mud rushing over the road. I pulled in behind the other cars to give me some time to figure out what to do. A couple of pick-up trucks went around us and made their way through the water. The water looked really deep! I was ready to get home, and, for a brief moment, I thought about trying to cross the water. There are moments when I get way too aggressive! Then I talked to God about the situation. It was clear to me that trying to cross the water would be a foolish thing to do. My hybrid sits very low to the ground and I could picture what could happen. How long, though, would I have to wait?
That is when it hit me there was another way to get home. I carefully turned around, and slowly went back to highway 19. Visibility was not great, but I was able to drive to the next exit. From there I was able to approach our neighborhood from the other side of the flood and get home. Talking to God, before taking action, turned out to be a pretty good thing to do!
Storms in our lives can take a lot of different forms. I was leading an All-Church Conference this last Thursday evening when I saw that someone was trying to call me. I was not in a position to answer the phone. Then I received the text that Huachuca UMC was on fire. I responded, and asked how bad was it? The answer was that it looked like it was a total loss. How do we react when something like this happens? I stopped the All-Church Conference, and we prayed right then. I felt a deep peace and knew that a building could be replaced. I talked to Rev. Matt Ashley while he stood at the bottom of the hill (Huachuca UMC was built on the top of a big hill) and watched the building burn. Huachuca UMC worships on Saturday evenings, and Matt told me they would be looking right away for a place where they could worship on Saturday. This sounds to me like a pastor who was talking to God for guidance. This worship service ended up being spirit-filled, with a very courageous and optimistic mood. This felt right for a group of Christ followers!
Not all storms have hail or fire. Other storms can include elements of: family; finances; religion; careers; politics; health; friends; addictions; loneliness; worry; fear; and many other possibilities. Sometimes we can see storms coming, while other times the storms surround us before we realize what is happening. When the storms hit, what are we focusing on? The storm, or God? Which focus will best help us to weather the storm? Peter could witness on this subject (Matthew 14:28-32)!
We need to make sure, though, that we are not practicing seasonal or conditional faith. Seasonal faith is what I call it when we only turn to God when bad things (like storms) are happening in our lives. Conditional faith is my term for when we have faith in God as long as we get the results that we desire. We need to move our faith beyond being either seasonal or conditional. Faith in God is designed to be worn daily, even when reality looks different than our dreams. God’s purpose for our lives has a way of being way beyond anything that we can imagine!
Your brother on the journey, Mark
Health Update: My next procedure will be on the afternoon of Halloween. I will be dressing up (actually dressing down) as a patient.