Greater Than The Storm
It was spring of 2012 . . .
Do you ever have a day where you just want to climb back under the covers until it is all over? That was my year.
The funny thing is that my husband predicted it. For the years preceding this difficult season he would say, “The end of the world was near.” Well, maybe not the end of the “World” but the “end of the world as we knew it.”
But our season of empty nesting was just beginning. . . (Enter whiny voice here.)
Looking back, I recognize that while this was the most challenging season of my life, it was also the most beautiful. You see, I was struggling, an INTENSE struggle of fear and worry.
It reminds me of the story of Jonah . . .
Jonah was given a Word from God, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because it’s wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-3)
Jonah was RUNNING AWAY!!
I too was running away. I was running away from everything I believed. The Faith that I shared was easy to teach, but hard to live. My children were growing up. My oldest son was going to prison and my youngest son was finishing his first year of college. I felt like I was losing everything I held dear. I wondered where I had gone wrong, was I being punished? I wanted so badly to have the “perfect” family. I wanted to be preparing for graduations and grandchildren, not visits through glass and metal detectors or tearful goodbyes on a college campus.
But life isn’t “perfect”, is it? And maybe that is what makes it so beautiful . . .
Back to Jonah, verse 4 says that The Lord sent a great wind on the sea, verse 5 tells us that Jonah went below deck where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep . . .
Oh yes, that is where I could have gone, straight to sleep for the whole year, but thankfully God wouldn’t let me . . .
As all good stories go, Jonah's story doesn’t end there. Jonah didn’t stay asleep. Verse 7 goes on to share how the sailors bet on who was the one responsible for the storm, and guess who lost? Oh yes, Jonah is now on the hot seat, which places him in a pickle as he realizes that he can’t run, he has to face his fear. In verse 12 he shares “Pick me up and throw me into the sea.”
My moment of realization came in a moment of prayer. It was time to face my fear of a sinking empty nest, there was no running anymore. And unfortunately my prayer was quite one sided until I heard a still small voice which reminded me who was in control.
And it wasn’t me . . . .
Flipping back to Jonah’s story, this is where it gets a little weird. Verse 17 reveals that the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Okay okay, for those of you who weren’t privy to the childhood Bible stories of Jonah and the whale, give me a minute here before you navigate to another webpage . . .
I ask myself, “Why a whale? Why 3 days? Come on God, really?"
Chapter 2 picks up with an intense prayer. I believe that my prayer may have sounded a little similar as Jonah shares his vulnerability with us: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me . . .” But then I begin to really connect with Jonah as Verse 7 reveals “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
Dear friend, I get these words, do you? Have you ever felt your life ebbing away? In the spring of 2012, I thought I was losing everything, but the reality was, I was gaining so much MORE as I relinquished control to my Father. I too remembered my Lord as I prayed to Him and began to feel the blessings of his peace. . .
Maybe Jonah had to be isolated, maybe he needed a couple of days alone to hear God’s voice and to recognize the great plan in store for him. We don't know all of the specifics, but there is so much grace in this story that truly is for all of us and one day it will all be revealed. . .
Maybe I too needed to be isolated, a couple of days, a year even to hear God’s voice and recognize that God’s great story is greater than anything I can plan . . .
When I look back on that year, I see the end of the world as we knew it and the beginning of a beautiful life to the full as we are promised. Through this challenge, my Father opened up a beautiful vocation for me in writing. And I have the opportunity to write back to/for Him as I learn to “Be Still and know that He is God.”
Jonah ends his prayer (and incidentally his vacation in the whale) with “But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord. (Jonah 2:9-10)'"
Life is not perfect. It is beautifully imperfect. And as we learn to give up control and lean on our Father who loves us so much, we too find that God is so much greater than our Storm.
Father, thank You for this beautifully imperfect life. Thank You that when we face challenges in life that You promise to hold us in Your Right Hand and guide us with Your counsel. Thank You that You are greater than our storm and are prepared to navigate the storm with us. Lord, I pray that in all of our challenges, both current and future, that You will continue to draw us near to You. Thank You for the salvation which brings us peace.
Your Thankful Daughter