Flowers out of Season

When Tropical Storm Zeta descended on my house in the wee hours of a Thursday morning, I was awakened by sudden silence. I realized the power had gone out, shutting off my diffuser, fan, and nightlight. It was dark and very quiet in the house, but outside was a different story. The wind howled and yanked at the plastic covering some of my windows. Every time I would start to relax it would start again. After several hours, the storm abated enough that I drifted back off to sleep. I woke up the next morning still without power, but the house was intact, so I was grateful and got ready for work by flashlight. When I went out to the car, I saw these lilies and was reminded of God’s goodness.

Earlier in the summer some friends and I were trying to get my yard under control. Weeds had overtaken my flower bed. In the process of cutting down tall weeds with a Weed Eater, some of my lilies were mown down, too. I was sad but hopeful they would return in the spring. That morning not only had the lilies miraculously returned, they were also blooming in all their splendor totally out of season. God was kind enough not to make me wait; He sent me flowers as a reminder that He was listening to my prayers and was able to answer.

So, as the season for thanksgiving approaches, let us remember that it is always the season for thanksgiving. No matter what the situation, no matter what the problem, God is always the answer and no one else.

21 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. 23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. 25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. 28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Psalms 107:21-30

No matter what kind of storm we are facing outside, we can have a haven of rest inside when we trust in the goodness of God. When we cry unto the Lord in our trouble, He will bring us out of our distresses and into our desired haven. Above all that, sometimes He sends us flowers out of season just to show us:

 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

Stand and Face the Storm

Faith & Storm

Retrieved from Link

April 27, 2011 started off with a bang as straight-line winds blew through my area, downing trees and power lines. I thought the worst was over as I gingerly traversed a number of problem areas on my way to work, but it was only the beginning. I was already back home and watching the nightly news for a weather update when I saw a live feed of a tornado touching down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was shocking, but I figured it would blow out before it reached my side of the state, so I carried on as usual. An hour or so later the storm had not subsided at all and was headed toward me. I grabbed my cats and a blanket and pillow and hunkered down in the bathroom floor just before I lost power. My only communication for weather updates was through texts from a friend. The cats, who were normally jumpy by nature, were unusually calm. Meep, still a kitten at the time, burrowed under the bathroom rug at my side and was quiet. Goldie, my Maine Coon crawled into my lap and lay down in quiet dignity and purred. I felt my own fears subside as I waited for the coming storm. It hit with a fury of wind and lightning. I knew the minute it had passed because the cats got up and went to the door and looked at me expectantly. It was over. You see the cats had the right idea. I had prepared the best that I could by sheltering in place and praying for protection and peace. There was nothing else I could do except wait it out.

Storms are inevitable. Our first instinct is to run away from danger. We begin to imagine all of the possible negative outcomes, but riding the “what if” bus will get you nowhere because its route is an infinity loop. It just keeps taking on more passengers and going in circles. We don’t know what the future holds, and we weren’t meant to. Acts 1:7 says, “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Therefore, we can run or we can choose to face the storm. I recently heard a guest on a Dave Ramsey video discussing the different ways animals deal with storms. When cows see a storm coming, they try to run away from the storm, but eventually the storm will catch up with them. Buffaloes, on the other hand, run into the storm. In the end, they spend less time in the storm because it passes over them. When we face our troubles head on, then we spend less time in the situation. We can stand in peace knowing we have done what we can do, and leave the rest to God.

When the storms come, Ephesians 6:13 says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” The verses that follow describe the armor:

  1. Helmet of Salvation – When we have salvation, we know the end of the story (John 3:16).
  2. Belt of Truth – Be cautious where you get your information (John 8:32).
  3. Breastplate of righteousness – It is Christ’s righteousness we are putting on (Philippians 3:9).
  4. Sandals of the gospel of peace – Have the peace that God gives (John 14:27).
  5. Shield of Faith – Have faith that God will work things out (Jeremiah 29:11).
  6. Sword of the Spirit – The sword is the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

God has given us armor, but we have to put it on in order for it to be effective. Once you put it on, the only thing left to do according to the last part of verse 13 is just stand. In times like these we need spiritual armor even more than we need masks and gloves. The enemy wants to take your peace and turn you into the worst version of yourself through fear. Instead, put on the armor and do what you can do. Wash your hands, follow social distancing, and find a way to serve others. The armor only protects your front because God has your back. So, stand and face the storm secure in the knowledge that God will walk with us until the storm passes by.

The Surety of Adversity

Adversity Flower in Concrete

“Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to bear adversities. And temptation followeth, lest he be lifted up because of the benefit.” – Thomas A’ Kempis

Storm WarningI was listening to a CD of devotionals and heard an excerpt from Priscilla Shirer. She was repeating something I had heard her say in the simulcast where I got the CD. The idea that a storm is a given. You are either going into a storm, are in a storm, or are coming out of a storm. In any case, it will pass. Either the state of rest or the storm will pass as you move into the next phase of the cycle. Why? I think the quote above from Thomas A’Kempis spells it out for us.

When we are at rest, we soon forget who we owe the joy of rest and peace. Sometimes we even begin to believe that we earned the blessings we have received. We forget that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, KJV). Storms come to keep us grounded.

Matthew 6:19-21 says:

 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

MistSometimes we must endure storms and suffer loss so that we will remember that everything on earth is ethereal, a mist that can dissolve as quickly as it came. We are merely passing through this world as well. As Christians our eternal home is Heaven where there will be no need of storms to remind us because we will be in the very presence of God.

How are we to live then, knowing storms will come as long as we walk this earth? Learn to ride the waves as they come. Be joyful in or out of the storms, knowing this too shall pass. Enjoy the blessings with a thankful heart and be thankful that in the storms we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven through obedience to God’s Word. Then, as Paul says:

 “11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13, KJV).