Life Lessons from the Blizzard of 2016

We all have moments where it feels like our hearts are rent in two. Usually, it’s from broken relationships or crushed dreams that we are asked to give up. We look across our hearts after these events and they often look like a battlefield – broken, bruised, bloody and void of life. We are usually then found asking “WHY!? What can ever become of this mess now? Everything is ruined and lost.”

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Around five years have passed since my family was voted out of the church I grew up in. Angry, hurtful words were said – relationships were rocked and broken. I recall feeling as though I’d lost my Aunt and Uncle. Over the course of the last several years, we’ve mended the relationship as best we could. Family dinners, wonderful musical parties, and holiday celebrations were the bridge we used to start rebuilding and strengthening the relationship. Last night, we had them up to eat and as we’re going into supper, Dad goes “Will you pray?” and asks my Uncle. I almost cried when he started praying. This was the first time since we’d gotten voted out of the church that I heard my uncle pray. I hadn’t realized that was missing…until that very moment when he started and my heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness at being united in this way once more. Again, this morning, as we gathered with neighbors to worship Jesus (due to the snow, pretty much all services were cancelled). I heard him and my aunt praying. My heart was touched. We were singing, praying and praising Jesus together – something I thought would never happen again. Healing. It was like water to a dry, war-torn battlefield. Over the years, our relationship has gotten stronger again. But until I heard them pray – something had been missing.

I think back to a broken relationship and often wonder how anything good could come from that battlefield. How can anything grow after the destruction and hurt that happened?

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(photo taken from WWII Battle near Marne)

Then this morning, God gave me a beautiful physical example through what’s been labeled as the Blizzard of 2016. Snow was my answer. The earth “dies” every fall and we’re left with a barren and brown landscape…and then…then it snows.

White, clean, sparkly…fresh. New. Life.

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(photo taken from Aspen, CO)

            In just a few hours/days, our earth was blanketed with snow. I know this snow is the start to beautiful new life in the following months. Flowers, green grass, fruit trees, good hay crops and healthy gardens will come from this snow. From the bounty God bestows from the heavens. Our lives are just like this!

We’ve all been through horrible experiences and been standing at the edge of our battlefield, asking ourselves what is coming next and if there is anything good that can come from the barren and the broken. My friend…when we come to God and seek His face and forgiveness…God drapes a blanket of “snow”/purity on our lives and gives us the newness to blossom into a beautiful, bountiful harvest. There is beauty from the ashes. When we go to God, we find the Master Gardener that can take our broken, barren and bloody lives and turn it into something astoundingly beautiful.

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(Photo taken from NY Times, Antietam/Washington DC/Gettysburg)

            John 12:24 says “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

I Samuel 16:7 says “But the Lord said to Samuel, “…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Ezekiel 11:19 states “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,…”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Lastly, Isaiah 43:19 (an all-time favorite of mine) says: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The relationships may not always be fixed (as ours THANKFULLY was!) and the dreams we lost may never come to pass, but God will heal the hurts, give new dreams and bless our lives tremendously IF we seek God first. In our own strength, we can’t fix relationships, heal hurts or make a dream a success – it all ends in the broken battlefield…so the choice is ours:

Bloody, barren, war-torn battlefields? Or lush, bountiful, beautiful field of His riches?

Which will you choose? To trust God in the middle of the barren times and seek Him or to waste away in our broken messes? I know my choice…I’m going to trust Him and serve Him even while I’m waiting on the bountiful harvest.

Because I know it’s coming…

 

A Song of Blessing

         My family has grown up singing the hymns, due to singing nightly growing up…most of the first and last verses are memorized for me and some of the other verses. Years back, after going to college and changing churches, the hymns slowly seemed to be fading from how often I used them. Recently, as a family we have been singing a lot more. I also now have several hymns on my iPod which I enjoy listening and singing these wonderful songs.

          There’s something uniquely soothing and promising about the words found in the hymns. Yes, there are some words that I go “what does that mean?” but for the most part…they’re as easy to understand as any other song. Some view these as “old fashioned” and “too traditional”, but to me they’re cherished pieces of music that draw our hearts to God, calm our spirits and help us focus our outlook on life.

          Last night, my family was having a prayer and praise night (due to all church being cancelled down here from snow and icy roads). We’d gathered around the piano in our living room and were singing, before we went to prayer Mom had requested we finish the singing by ending on the song “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. Now, if I’m perfectly honest, this is one of my least favorite hymns. There’s just something about it that hadn’t ever “sat right” with me. I don’t know if it’s the melody or pace to the song, but it’s just never been a favorite. Well…last night…I must say it moved a little closer to my heart.

          Life isn’t always easy, there are good days and bad days, days when we feel untouchable and days when we’re more vulnerable than we ever imagined. Times when we ‘have all the answers’ and times when we feel like direction is blocked off from view. God is silent and we are left alone to face the future. (*Note…we are NEVER alone, even if it feels like it! I heard once that the Teacher is always silent during a test. God allows us to experience the negatives in life to see if we will turn to Him or if we’ll attempt handling it on our own. It’s all growing and learning experiences. But He is always with us!) Anyway…back to the song.

          Singing verse one, I struggled with my attitude. I didn’t want to be singing this song…much less ending our time on this song. I decided to just sing…and reevaluate the words to the song to see if there was something I’d been missing. Wouldn’t you know it, verse two comes along –

          Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! Thy wings shall my petitions bear. To Him whose truth and faithfulness, engage the waiting soul to bless. And since He bids me seek His face, believe His Word and trust His grace. I’ll cast on Him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.

          Those words struck my heart. Jesus bids, He calls me, He wants us to seek Him out. He is desperately longing to see my face, to talk with me, to listen to me, to guide my life down the right path! In seeking His face though, I must first BELIEVE His Word. To believe His Word, the Bible, I must read it and accept it as truth! Then I must TRUST His grace, trust Him. Trust is not easy thing for me. But trust, I must. It’s all about putting trust in the One who will never break that trust, never lie and never walk away. Then, when we make the decision to believe and trust, we can easily cast our cares on Him and leave them there.

          There are moments in my day-to-day life when I ask myself the questions: Will I be doing this job forever? Am I doing “life” right? Am I serving God properly? What about marriage…will I ever get married? Will I find the man who shows Christ’s unconditional love for me? Will I be a good wife? Kids…oh man…how would we support them? Look at the condition of the world? Will my husband be a good dad? Will I make a good Mom? What if I mess up? What if I make bad decisions? What if, what if, what if… and on and on the list goes. Trust me…if I linger on that list too long, I’m a miserable basket case. I’ve got friends who on (hopefully) rare occasions listen to me panic when I dwell on this too much. As soon as I get done “sharing”, I realize how pitiful I sound.

          I know God has my future written down. He knows what’s happened to me. He knows what will happen to me. He is currently equipping me for what’s ahead. I can just trust Him and live my life from day to day, keeping Him the focus of my life and all those other worries will fade. I can seek His face, believe His Word, trust His grace and cast my cares upon Him.

          And all this can be done in my sweet hour of prayer.