Thursday, March 1, 2012

It Started With A Hurricane

August 2011. For an entire year, I had looked forward to it. It was our third family beach vacation which had become the highlight of summer. But this year we were staying for not one but two weeks. We'd heard over and over again how relaxing a two week vacation was. It was happening just before we went back to school, and I thought of it as my rejuvenation before the grind of the school year. There was so much planning and prep, but I kept thinking how worth it all that work would be. We got to our beach home; and as I unpacked, I repeatedly contemplated how wonderful it would be not to have to pack up again for a whole fourteen days. 

But I hadn't factored in Irene. Ah, yes, Irene. Four days into my blissful retreat, Hurricane Irene demanded our evacuation. And frankly, I was furious. My husband tried to comfort me and speak truth to me, but I really didn't care. We drove home on the eve before what was supposed to be my son's beach birthday. I glared at the rain and the traffic. We went home to my parents hoping to be able to return after the storm had passed. I woke up mad and had mood swings between angry and depressed. This was my vacation. How dare I lose my vacation! Thoughts of people who were going through much more serious trials than mine came to my head, people who couldn't even dream of a vacation. I justified my anger, "They have their trial and I have mine."

And while after five days at my parent's we were able to return to the beach, I look back now at what I believe God was revealing in my heart. I wanted comfort. I wanted comfort more than anything else. More than joy, more than glorifying a sovereign God in a very minor trial. But that was just the beginning, just the event that allowed the veil of my heart to be peeled back so that I could see the idolatry going on inside. Now, unbeknownst to me, God had a plan to starting dealing with it.

We came back from the beach and within 10 days my husband was laid off from his job and my girlfriend who was like a sister and whom I had hoped to live by one day, was moving. I wasn't too worried about the job loss. With all my husband's clearances and qualifications we should have a job in a couple of weeks, I reasoned. But the moving of my girlfriend was not so easy for me. I cried out to God and cried on my husband's shoulder. I pouted over the fact that it seemed like all the girls I got close to moved. Finally during prayer time one more God confronted me. Are you supposed to cling to anything but me? Why do you have such a tight grasp over this friendship? While it seems like a basic truth when I write it out, it hit me that morning like a ton of bricks. And with that, God began to peel back the onion layers of my comfort.

As for my husband's job, that didn't happen the way I thought either. The government began to cut defense programs and suddenly almost no one had immediate positions open. Weeks turned into months. In November we thought he had a job. Then he was told his clearance didn't transfer to this particular department. At Christmas he got another job, but it's March and the government still hasn't given the contract a solid start date. And you know what? It's honestly turned into the most beautiful season of my life. Let me repeat that: the most beautiful season of my life. God has used this time to reveal more and more of Himself to me, to school me in spiritual disciplines, to force me to rely of Him, and to make me question what taking up the cross of Christ looks like and what I'm living for.

I realized that in my mind, my future was like a white board full of scribbles. I'd marked it up with plan upon plan for my future. We would live in this place, these people would be in my life forever, my family would look like this, we would travel here, we would do this or that. I had it all planned. I probably wouldn't have admitted it out loud, but almost everything on that board of my future was all about me. But God began to do a great kindness to me; He began to erase that board. Erasing my lists and plannings and helping me to see that a white board was all that I was supposed to see as looked into my future. Because a blank white board means that I am looking for Him to direct my future and what it would look like. It means that preconceived notions are gone, and it means that I suddenly have to seek hard after Him for the next step.

God brought me to verses like Luke 12:16-21: "And he told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, "I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

The man in this parable was not a murderer or a thief. All this man was trying to get was security and comfort. And yet God emphatically declares him a fool.  Through this season I've seen what a fool I was. I've realized the pointless, emptiness of living for my comfort. As I've dug deeper into Scripture and spent time hearing from men like John Piper and Francis Chan, God has beginning to shift my view of a life well lived. I've been given the gift a of desperate fear of wasting my life. Scripture is calling me to live with eternity in view, and my comfort has nothing to do with this. Radical, passionate love for Christ and storing up treasures in heaven has everything to do with it. It's Biblical but counter-intuitive: the more God has shown me to live for Him and for others, the more joy I'm receiving.

Don't think me a finished product. I keep raising my hand to the white board of the future to write my expectations, but I am reminded again to leave it blank, to yield those hopes and dreams to His perfect plan. And the even more wonderful thing is that God has been working on Steven as well. Suddenly, we're looking together at what God is calling us to, and He's already giving us direction. My desire for comfort is not dead, but it's certainly taken a divine hit.

And I can tell you with all of my heart that I wouldn't trade the last 6 months for anything. If I had known in July of the fruit that would come of it, I would have asked God for a job loss, a friend's move...

...and even a hurricane.


  1. thank you for writing this; for letting us see this part of your life. I'm excited to see how God will continue to work in many wonderful ways. =)

  2. oh my goodness you have no idea what i have been struggling with today and the past year. I needed to read this so badly today that I have tears in my eyes as i have been struggling with the same white board but much farther behind in my relationship with God. Thank you for posting this.I know God has been asking me to come to him and submit to him. Thank you Thank you Thank you. Once again you have impacted my life with your words!


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