I hope and pray all of you made it through last week’s winter storm okay. The temperatures plummeted, the wind blew, the rain fell, and then came the sleet and snow. What a perfect confluence of events to bring a little Winter our way. Of course, the weather people and the safety people were all a buzz beforehand. It was going to rival the winter snap we had last year. We were cautioned about the electric grid’s potential to fail. We were told to prepare ourselves for what was coming. Here at my condo, the HOA kept sending out advisories, warning us to keep both cold and hot faucets dripping. There was a crew in the parking garage wrapping all the pipes against potential freezes. The last day before the storm I had been gone to the grocery store to pick up a few items. When I returned, the work crew had come and gone. They had covered the openings in the garage with insulated panels to keep the worst of the storm out. We were prepared!
The storm did come. It was icy. There was a good amount of snow. The temperatures did indeed drop into the ‘teens, it was frigid. But, we were prepared. All in all, the storm didn’t last too long and not too much devastation from it left behind.
All of this set me to thinking about the storms each of us have in our own lives. Do we prepare for them just as aggressively? Or, do we not think there are going to be storms in our lives? There are plenty of folks who glide through life not thinking a storm will ever come. Pretty smooth sailing…until it isn’t. The thing about storms is, they inevitably hit everyone at some point.
The question remains, do we prepare for the storms that will come in our lives?
Life storms take many forms. The storm might be in a relationship that seems upended, or torn apart. The storm might be in our personal finances, things happen and our precarious financial situation is now under water. The storm might be in our health, never been sick a day in our lives and then, wham! All of a sudden you have a terrible diagnosis; cancer, a stroke, end of life decisions. The storm might be in our faith life. We find ourselves questioning if God really cares about us, if God is angry with us, if God is punishing us, if God even really exists.
Life storms will come to each of us at some point in our lives, that’s a certainty. Just like rain will fall, the sun will shine, the wind will blow, and the seasons will change, our own storms will come.
Are we prepared for the storms when they come?
We might ask ourselves, how do you prepare for the storms that will come? We had foreknowledge of this past Winter storm. We knew to wrap our pipes, to leave our faucets dripping, to stock up on food, to pull out more blankets and heavy coats. But how do we prepare for life storms? We don’t usually have forewarning they are coming. We don’t usually have the presence of mind immediately before to do whatever we can to stand against the storm. It might not be that we know on Thursday night at 10:00, the ice and snow are going to fall. Still, we know that if we are living, we are eventually going to experience a storm in our life that has the potential to be devastating.
So, how do we prepare for what will eventually come?
The storms I’m speaking of have the ability to wreak devastation in our emotional and spiritual selves. Maybe there isn’t any insulating wrap we can pull out and tape around ourselves. Maybe there isn’t a faucet we can leave dripping to drain away the tears that will come. Maybe there are no insulated panels we can put up to keep the cold winds of despair from blowing in.
I’ve said all that to say, we do have a way to prepare ourselves for what is coming. It takes time, and it takes a willingness to engage in some things which may not seem all that beneficial at first glance. What I’m talking about is being a part of a community of faith. This is the best way I know of to prepare for the coming storm. A community of faith will wrap itself around us in untold ways. When we share our hurts and our vulnerabilities, a community of faith can be there to lift our spirits and to help us weather the storms that are blowing in our lives. A community of faith shares with each other in the joys and the sorrows, in the up moments, and the down times.
I cannot begin to tell you what the community of faith has meant in my life. I’ve been through some storms, and at times felt like the storms would overwhelm me. But my community of faith was there for me. It takes time to develop our relationships in our community of faith. It takes attending to corporate worship, taking part in the community’s efforts at mission and evangelism, serving in different ways within the community, studying the Word of God to see how God has always been faithful to those who love and serve God. When we engage in these different parts of our community of faith, we are preparing for the storms that will come. When the storm hits, no matter how ferocious it might be, the community of faith will wrap itself around us and hunker down with us. We may not always see a silver lining in the clouds that overtake us, but our community of faith will be there to continue to uplift us and support us until the storm passes and we emerge. Even if the storms have wreaked havoc, even if they have left us with scars and wounds, even if they have almost done us in, the community of faith will have presented God to us in such a way that we will know we are not alone.
I pray and hope for every person to have a community of faith that surrounds them. I pray that as a member of a community of faith, we feel the desire to help others in our community as they experience the storms of life. I pray that we reach out to those who don’t have a community of faith, and invite them to join us in ours. They may not realize it, or acknowledge it, but the storms will come. We want to prepare them as well as ourselves.
I want to end with two of my favorite scriptures concerning the storms of life that are coming our way, one Old Testament, and one New…
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 God bless you all, you are my community of faith and I hold you very dear.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,