He reached for me and I recoiled.
It isn’t him, it’s me. The storms have intensified and when that happens I go into lock-down mode. He softly reaches out, tells me he can’t handle it when I draw back.
It shakes me, he leaves, we go our seperate ways.
I’m sitting on the couch folding clothes when he returns. The kids are in bed and he heads for the recliner, exhausted. I have a choice and the old me would like to make excuses and take advantage of his tenderness and willingness to forgive, say I’m sorry and let things continue, just this time, me on my couch and he on his.
But the new me wants more.
I go sit in his lap. “I’m sorry,” I whisper against his skin. “I’m so overwhelmed and we both know my natural response is to withdraw, clamp down, preserve what I have left. Sometimes I forget that’s not what I really want.”
I’m talking about the old Me, the one who for so long believed the lie that to preserve oneself, you have to self-protect, draw in, give the bare minimum.
But the truth is that to preserve one’s self, you give yourself away. To find your life, you must lose it.
Sometimes I can’t see when I’m falling back into the trap, back into the old habits and ways. Sometimes life happens so fast you start acting instinctively.
That’s when I need someone to tell me I’m being a turkey.
A turkey and an eagle both respond to the threat of a storm, but very differently. A turkey runs under the barn, seeking shelter and hoping the storm won’t touch her. An eagle, on the other hand, leaves the security of her nest when a storm approaches. She spreads her wings to ride on the air currents of the coming storm.
The eagle knows that a storm’s currents can take her higher than she could ever go on her own.
For many years I lived the turkey. It is very instinctive for me to self preserve. But somewhere along the way, through many, many storms, I got pushed out of the nest and realized I wasn’t a turkey after all. I’m an eagle.
The free fall was terrifying. But then Father Eagle was there to scoop me on His wings and my trembling eaglet body relaxed and began to discover the awe of what was happening.
It happened again. And again. And again. Each time, Father Eagle pushed me out of the nest I wanted to stay safe in, each time He swooped down to bear me up on His wings.
He taught me I was made to soar.
Until one day, when the choice was mine to leave the nest or to stay, I took the plunge.
It felt good… to deliberately choose giving up safety in order to soar. It felt good taking the risk. It felt good to live for something other than myself, to know my purpose.
The turkey in me still wants to run sometimes, to hide, to keep safe, to not leave security, at least what she perceives to be security. But the voice of a dear loved one can remind me I’m made for more than cowering.
Sometimes it’s another eagle who can show us what we’re made for. Because we all forget sometimes.
They help us remember that we don’t want security most after all. We want to fulfill our destiny. We want to be what He made us to be, do what He created us to do.
We want to soar.
So go soar my friend. Go soar.
THE CAULDRON OF HOME LIFE BOILED OVER and I spilled too, making a mess and scalding little hearts and I wondered when I will ever get it right.
Evening came and so did the storms again, one right after another. We huddled together on the couch, listening to the sirens screech their warning and sang “Your Name is a strong and mighty tower….”
When the kids could stay up no longer, we put them to bed and risked turning on the computer to check the news.
“There’s been nothing like this,” they said, “one system after the other, with no breaks, no rest, no relief.”
From Mississippi to Ohio, the question’s on everyone’s mind: “Will the levee’s hold?”
We can sandbag and pitch water with a pail, but we need those levees. We can minimize the loss, we can replace broken windows and clean up debris, but we need those levees to hold.
I finally fall into bed, storm tossed from the inside out, teary eyed and worn. I wonder how much more I can take of these storms that have been stretching one after another. These storms our family has been weathering going on four years now.
“Can You hear me, God?” I ask, and laugh at the absurdity of it. “Really hear me? Because I don’t know up from down anymore. I don’t know right from wrong, I have no idea what to do.”
Lightning flashes bright through the wood blinds and thunder shakes the light bulbs in the vanity. I beg a few hours sleep before my shift starts again.
In the morning I drive oldest to school. He is strangely quiet, except to ask, “Why is it so dark, Mom?”
“The storm clouds are so thick son, it blocks the sun. The beams can hardly get through.”
We pass by ponds swollen to overflowing, trees knocked down, see broken car windows.
Storms do their damage. Boiling cauldrons burn over.
We drive by the lake with the overflow tanks, the tanks that have been pumping water under the road to the back up pond for weeks. Even the overflow is backed up, unable to handle anymore. The water laps the edge of the road, hungry to devour pavement.
“Much more rain and this road is going to flood. They’re gonna have to close this road down.” I mutter it to myself. I feel my own backup tanks overflowing. I feel the flood waters lapping at the edges, the panic of being swept completely away.
I feel the maxed overflows and the stressed levees and the storms that won’t stop coming and the sirens that won’t stop screeching.
I wonder how much more I can take. I wonder if the levees will hold.
I drive home, back over the road that gets closed an hour later. I think of the white picket fence Christianity I had for so long. Oh, it looked good, girl. It looked good.
Then the storms started and pushed that thing clean over. There is nothing cute about me anymore, and maybe I’d mourn the loss except losing that version of Christianity wasn’t a bad thing…just shocking for others who looked at me and expected to see the white picket fence, perhaps.
As I ponder these things, open and bare before God, hidden no longer behind cute facades, I hear His voice, a rumble deep within, quite unexpectedly.
Your levee’s gonna hold, my girl. Your levee’s gonna hold.”
And He opens my eyes and I see so clearly the storms of testing, the tearing away of all worthless, the strengthening of the Foundation.
The Levee’s gonna hold.
The storm may leave some tossed trees. The overflow may max out, the boiling cauldron may spill over every now and then. The living room may flood and the roof get torn sheer off.
But the Levee’s gonna hold.
They call at 10am, saying roads are impassable and schools are closing. It was inevitable.
But the Levee’s gonna hold.
Right there in the middle of the storm, mingled with torrent of rain on a few inches of soaked soil on a planet spinning in perfect orbit, a few salty, grateful tears.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the Rock.” Matthew 7:24-25
…and all’s unclear,
When stormy chaos ushers in fear,
When He, my Lord, seems far away,
I will find my Anchor stays.
For He alone knows the way that I take
and He alone can make no mistake.
When He has tried me, I’ll come forth as gold,
for His word says His riches unfold
as I trust in the Heart that birthed redemption’s plan
and rest in the Savior’s nail scarred Hands.
He knows the plans He has for me
when I am tossed about on stormy seas.
I can choose to fret and fear,
or I can choose to believe He’s near.
I may be in a hard place but I can still make a good choice: trust God.
“No one whose hope is in You will ever be disappointed.” Psalm 25:3a
Scriptures to anchor:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”
Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Jeremiah 1:12b “..I am watching over My word to perform it.”
Psalm 25:3 “No one whose hope is in You will ever be disappointed.”
I’ve been vigilant to check the maps, to watch the weather, to make wise choices. I’ve hedged against the danger and the risk.
I’ve used the mind God gave and employed it as an instrument of navigation, have listened well to its warnings. I don’t like going out in stormy darkness with waves tossing.
But following Jesus has taken me straight into danger, dark and deathly.
“I’m not smart enough for this, God.” I’ve finally figured that out.
It’s an SOS, whispered from a captain who’s been entrusted with lives aboard the ship. We are all in danger.
I’m in way over my head, literally. Navigation systems do fail.
That’s when He reminds me. “You’ve relied on your wits and your smarts long enough. I’m teaching you to hear Me with your heart and trust Me in Your spirit, for this is where communion with Me truly takes place.”
This is part of the un-sheathing. It’s okay to have no earthly idea what I’m doing. He knows what He’s doing.
“As long as you are relying on your mental abilities you will cave to fear and control. You will still try to fix what’s broken. Only when you embrace your “systems failure” as an ir-repairable, unchangeable fact, can you begin to tune in to My Spirit who navigates the storm.”
Let go of the wits that kept me from danger in childhood? The smarts that protected me from further abuse? Yes, that. Abandon the systems I’ve trusted in.
There’s something better.
It’s been a long, stormy ride to get to this point. I’ve done everything possible to get the navigation system up and running again, to eek out just a little more safety, just a blip of guidance. I’ve held onto it even when it stopped working straight out, afraid to let it go.
But I’m ready now.
Maybe I’m desperate enough. Maybe I’m convinced enough. Maybe it’s just grace.
But I’m ready.
The spirit system is already crackling. I’m getting the signal. It’s just on a completely different frequency.
I feel like a live-wire, like this Signal is not just navigating but electrifying me.
The storm still tosses. The danger hasn’t passed, but I’m not afraid.
Because the storm isn’t actually what this is about.
I’m plugged in. He in me and I in Him and I get it now.