When The Storm Comes
It was two days after Christmas. I still remember making myself a sandwich when I glanced out the back window.
Our poor dog. We are staying with family while we build our house, so our rescue pup, Winston gets to stay outside. He doesn't have terrible accommodations, especially considering the mild winter we've had, but he's still outside. He has a long running line, a double-insulated, Amish-made dog house made for large dogs with a giant, cozy pillow inside. He's also wearing a red, plaid dog coat.
The problem is, he has never gotten inside his dog box. He must be afraid of it. We have put treats in it, his food bowls and water in it, and my youngest son, Judah has even climbed inside in an effort to coax him in. All to no avail.
The look on Winston's face reminded me of Simon Cowell. He eyed Judah skeptically, as he sat crouching inside the box motioning for Winston to join him inside, "That's a No for me, kid."
We made provisions for Winston for the winter season so he would be safe, cozy and warm until we could bring him into the new house. We love Winston. We want to protect him. But he won't get in the box!
People have asked me why I wrote such a personal story when my marriage fell apart. I did so because I felt urgently that so many people are living outside of a box that was meant to protect them. Just as it makes no sense for my dog to sit beside his sturdy warm house during a storm, it makes no sense for Christians to weather life without being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
I stared out my window helplessly watching Winston sit beside his dog box wearing a sad face and his new Christmas coat.
When my husband asked me for a divorce, I had two options. Go through that all alone, or look for the provision that is righted to me as a daughter of King Jesus. How amazing that we have agency, help in this tempestuous world!
Now I do alot of things wrong. I had contributed to the destruction of our marriage. I could identify those things, go to counseling, work on my own behavior, etc. In the end, so many things were still way beyond my control. I couldn't snap my fingers and make those feelings he felt for someone else be for me again. I couldn't change my appearance, magically get a new face, body or personality. I couldn't make the kids behave better to lessen stress in our relationship or instantly fix our finances. I couldn't undo the hurt that threatened to destroy my soul. I couldn't change my circumstances.
HOWEVER. Believers, we have a big advantage! We are not left alone. I can not act hopeless because I am filled with living hope. Just as I can't change the weather my dog must endure this season, I can offer him provision to ride out the storm, to make the worst season as cozy as possible.
Good news! That's one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit! He is here to help us. During that tumultuous season of my life, I often referred to my "bubble" that kept me sane, healthy and whole.
Easter season is here where we celebrate Jesus, the Savior of the world. He became man and walked the earth just like we do. His death was the undisputed sacrifice for sin that makes grace possible. As we know, He was raised again from the dead before ascending into Heaven.
But He did. not. leave. us. alone. He did not abandon us. He left us with the Holy Spirit to help us through everything and anything we could ever face.
2 Corinthians 4: 8-9 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." NIV
I often think of the Holy Spirit as the character of Frodo's Sam from Lord of the Rings. Everyone that watched that movie wanted Sam to be their best friend. He was loyal, a constant companion always serving Frodo, helping him carry his pack, offering him his own food so Frodo would not become too weary. He was just the best.
Although one role of the Holy Spirit is helper, he has many roles. One of those, is empowerment.
In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John stood before political rulers and spoke with such eloquent accuracy and boldness in a way they would have never been able to articulate before. They were very clearly untrained and uneducated men. The crowds knew something was up. All who were present took notice to the point that people who knew them said, Who in the world is this?
That kind of empowerment was possible because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. It didn't make sense, but He is not bound to earthly restrictions, and He isn't limited to the possible or the impossible like we are.
Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be filled with the Spirit. The word "Fill" here is "to occupy to the full capacity."
2 Corinthians 6:16 says "For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM" To indwell means, "to inhabit, to possess."
We have the ability, the invitation to be occupied, possessed, to full capacity by the spirit of the living God.
So many of us right now are getting beat-the-crap-up. Circumstances, either self-made or beyond our control are all but defeating. I understand the temptation to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in circumstances. Believe me. I do. But there's no sense in having a box if you won't climb in it. To act helpless and hopeless is unwarranted.
Perhaps you are taking blows you were never meant to absorb. Bad circumstances will always present themselves at some time or another, wether it is at a personal or a national level. But we, believers in Christ, were given the gift of the Holy Spirit to keep us in those times.
It's interesting to me as I write this post to reflect on what Jesus did when he found himself in a storm, as furious and blustering as it was. Waves crashed so violently his boat nearly sunk, causing uproar and complete panic from the other passengers aboard.
What did he do? He slept through it. When everyone panicked around him, he was at peace. May I humbly suggest we can be empowered, entitled to that same peace?
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
It's unnecesary to stand out in the elements alone and unguarded. And may I even say, it is our duty as Christ followers not to panic. Why should we, when we've been given provision? It's going to rain. But for goodness sake, don't just stand there, get in the box!
You can stand a few feet away from safetly during your storm, just like Winston. OR you can get inside the box. And emerge warm and dry and most importantly, with a strong faith in the box that kept you miraculously safe.
ALSO! Winston warmed up to his box shortly after I wrote this and had a pretty cozy winter. I'm always telling stories about my kids, perhaps her was feeling left out and just wanted his turn in the spotlight. Thanks, pal. 😉
~All My Best,