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Staring At a Storm

 
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Shortly after Rob and I got married, we were on a flight home from Australia when our plane encountered a hurricane over the ocean. Calmly, the pilot came on over the intercom, told us what we were about to experience, and asked that we return to our seats and buckle our seatbelts. I am sure that our tray tables also needed to be returned to their upright position. The pilot explained that we might make sudden descents as we hit air pockets throughout the storm, and warned us that the air masks could drop due to a loss in cabin pressure. He assured us that the staff was thoroughly trained for these types of storms and that he fully intended to get us to our destination safely.

When I look back on it now, the scene was straight out of a movie. I am shocked that we ever flew again! As we made our way through the turbulence, it would suddenly feel like our aircraft had hit a wall and we would plummet thousands of feet. As the pilot had warned us, the air masks deployed. Overhead bins opened and things began falling out, rolling and flying around the cabin. Some people prayed out loud. Others cried. There were screams. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.  And then, as quickly as we had descended, we would begin a steady ascent back up. For a few minutes, things would seem to calm down, and during that time the airline personnel would make their way up and down the aisles, checking on passengers and assuring us of our safety.  But then, with very little warning, we would hit another “wall” and start plummeting. At one point, Rob and I could hear the stewardess behind us crying and we looked back to see her bent over in her jump seat, head between her knees, rocking back and forth. The sight did little to assuage our fears.

So it was about this time, that I leaned over to Rob and whispered, “Please put in your contacts (he had taken them out to sleep), and put your shoes back on.” And God bless the man! Without a comment or a question, he just did it! Later, when we were finished “riding out the storm” and had landed, Rob asked me about my instructions. I matter-of-factly explained that I wanted him to be prepared in case of a crash. To which he simply smiled and said, “We were out over the Pacific Ocean. Contacts and shoes weren’t taking me very far.”

You can laugh. We still do. But I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar.  Often when we face an unexpected “storm” in our lives and are forced into survival mode, our reactions can be poor ones.  We make decisions and choices that later seem pretty ridiculous. We say things that we regret. We take action on impulse rather than wisdom.  We run. We hide. We check-out. Let me give you a few examples.

Your marriage is struggling – so you add the stress of having a baby in order to “fix it”.

Your child is rebelling or hurting – and so you spend lots and lots of money on them.

You are struggling with your self-esteem – and so you just keep eating to try to numb it.

You are going through a rough time – and so you lash out at those who love you the most.

You are feeling lonely and out of touch – and so you isolate yourself even further.

Too often when life storms hit, our reactions don’t even make sense! In an effort to get out of a “hole,” we only dig it deeper. Or we simply dig another one! And our Creator knew that our survival instincts may not bring out the best in us. That is why when we encounter life difficulties, our Heavenly Father clearly instructs us,

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10NIV

Be still. When you read the rest of Psalm 46, the writer is saying, “Step back from it all. Find your bearings. Quit panicking. Quit trying to immediately solve or fix everything.”  When we are going through challenging situations, it is critical that we take pause – mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is vital that we force our focus and energy away from the “storm” and onto our Father through prayer and time in His Word.

Know that I am God. The psalmist reminds us throughout the chapter that our God is above any problem that can arise. We may have been surprised by what happened. Our God was not. We may feel that our situation is hopeless. He does not. We may feel out of control. He is completely in control. We may have no idea what to do or where to start. Our Heavenly Father sees our path and He knows each step that we should take. There is profound power in stepping away from everything, being quiet, and reminding ourselves of…

Our God’s love. There is nothing that we can do to make Him love us more. There is nothing that we can do to make Him love us less. His love for us is perfect.

Our God’s power. There is absolutely nothing that our God cannot do.

Our God’s wisdom. He sees it all and knows it all. The end is as clear to Him as the beginning.

Our God’s protection. Our Heavenly Father desires to be our rock when it seems that we are unstable, our anchor when we are feeling tossed, and our tower when we need a refuge.

Staring at a storm can make us do crazy things. That’s why it is critical that we commit to stepping back, quieting ourselves, and focusing on our Father instead. It’s not unholy to be frightened. It’s human. The difference comes in what we do with our fear. Our natural reactions in hard times can be a series of poor choices if we are not cautious and aware, and if we are not continually and purposefully factoring in our God. When we choose to see our difficulty and need through the lens of our God’s greatness and love, nothing will look the same.

*Devotional taken from Peace That Passes, available for a brief time on a store link for $15.

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Erin Pfister