Though I don’t “like” being tested with the storms of life, I realize they are needed. As I look back, all of my spiritual growth has only taken place after the storm and rain. Change has only taken place after gusty winds have blown through my life and as God has revealed to me many times over, those winds let me know of His presence in my life. Just as the grass and flowers die after an extended period of no rain, and the lakes will dry up in a drought, our lives reflect the same outcome if we don’t experience any storms. If it doesn’t “rain” in our life, we will be much like the lakes and dry up. We need the rain from those storms in order to grow spirtually. Do we like it? No! Do we get excited every time a storm comes? No! Do we like the growth that takes place in our lives after the storm has passed? Absolutely! I know I do!
Recently I have been through a few of those storms. No matter how severe or mild, they equally tested me, just in different areas of my life and in my heart. Sometimes we can see God clearly in the midst of the storm like that rainbow in the sky in the midst of an afternoon rain shower while the sun is still shining, other times, we can’t see past the dark clouds that looms over our heads, the heavy rain in front of our eyes, or hear His voice over the loud booming of the thunder that is rattling our very being. My biggest struggle that I have in the midst of a storm has changed over the last couple of years. My biggest struggle used to be having faith that God was going to work it all out and take care of me in the storm, now it’s more of Am I handling this the way God wants me to? Am I doing the right thing? Am I moving in the right direction? How do I know this is what He wants for me? I let fear grip me so bad that it hinders me. I am so afraid of making the wrong decision and not being in God’s will. But I have had to be reminded that God didn’t give me that fear and doesn’t want me to have it.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self control. 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
I just want to hear from God so clearly in a situation or circumstance and be sure that I am in His will for my life. The only way for me to do that is to spend quiet time with him in prayer, spend time in His word, seek Godly counsel if it is needed, and be open to hearing Him and not just telling Him. So I broke away from all the noise, all the distractions of life, and hid myself away from the rest of the world, and placed myself in the presence of God, boldly before His throne, seeking His will for this storm in my life. Seeking His will first takes place with confessing my sin to Him, where I went wrong, where I messed up, where I fell short as we all do (Romans 3:23). If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened – Psalm 66:18. I know that I am not perfect and will never handle everything that comes my way just perfectly, if I was perfect I would no longer be walking this earth. So I spent time confessing to God where I believe I had sinned, and asked Him to reveal to me any unconfessed sin that I had in my heart. I poured my heart out to God, every fear I had, every hurt that I was feeling, every area that I was struggling with and in. I wanted to seek God’s face, His will, His heart. I didn’t want to speak one word, didn’t want to move one step without doing what it was that He wanted me to do, His will for my life. Some times I would hear from Him immediately, other times, I waited patiently to hear from Him. I still struggled. How can I know for sure that what I’m hearing is from God? Have you ever just really wanted God to sit in front of you and just grab your face between His two hands and say, “This is what I want you to do!”? I sure have. I longed for that clarity. I spent so much time in confusion. That should have been a clear sign to me at that very moment. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.”
Why did I continue to battle with what I was hearing clearly from God? Easy, The enemy! He didn’t want me hearing from God, he wanted me hearing his lies because if I heard his lies over God’s truth then I would stay right where he wanted me to, in his pit of destruction, in this storm and in bondage to him. When we are in the midst of the storms of life, the enemy has a plan and will for our lives just the same as our Father does. We have to listen carefully to the voice of truth and not listen to his lies. He doesn’t want us to be free, or to be in Gods will. What use are we to him then? I needed more instruction from God, more counsel, more prayer, I just needed to be completely clear that what I was feeling, what I was hearing was of God for sure without a shadow of a doubt! I needed that clarity and that confirmation. The bible says in Proverbs 15:14 that “The discerning heart seeks knowledge”. I was seeking knowledge, it also says “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12. I was applying the knowledge that God was giving me through every way or source He was sending it to me, some subtle some as clear as could be.
Everytime I felt God’s peace, the enemy would throw some bait out and dangle it in front of me. After an extended time in prayer, counsel and knowledge, and in the stillness of His presence while I sat at His feet, many times with tears streaming down my face, my heart broken and shattered in many pieces, God revealed Himself to me in some mighty ways. He sent knowledge to me that I could see no other way but through Him. He opened my eyes to things I could never have seen on my own. Confirmation came to me from my Father and I had to make a conscience decision to no longer listen to the enemy and his lies, to no longer take his bait. I had a decision to make, keep believing his lies and falling into his trap that kept me trapped in a horrible pit, or take God’s hands, trust in Him, believe in Him, and climb out of that pit with His help. The enemy tried, but I chose to listen to that voice of truth, the voice that was telling me,“Angie, here’s what I want you to do, believe in me, trust in me, I know what’s best for you, I see the big picture and you don’t, I always have your best interest at heart, and I have plans for you and those plans are not to harm you, but to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future.!” (Jeremiah 29:11) I made a decision that day, a decision to walk out of that pit, and when I did, the storm clouds cleared, the sun came out, and I had more peace than I could have ever imagined! “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7 knows the peace I am talking about!
Through these storms that I have been through, I believe there has been some growth. I could not see it taking place then, or not even right after the storm had began passing. It was only after some evaluation started taking place in my heart. After listening to my pastors sermon about spiritual growth, I found myself sitting there and asking myself “Did I grow through all of this?”, “How did others view me throughout these storms?”, “Would they be able to say they saw my faith or a difference in me & how I handled the storm this time compared to the past storms in my life?” I went to my husband and asked these questions, not certain of what I would hear, but I knew I could count on hearing the truth in love from him. He had confirmed what I had hoped to hear, he saw growth. He pointed out that how I handled myself throughout these storms is so different from how I have handled myself in past storms, that I sought God first in everything, waited patiently on Him & His instruction, and exercised my faith in ways he had never seen before. Sometimes we just need to check our hearts and that’s just what I did. I would hate to think that after facing some of the most trying storms, that I had no growth. I consider the fact that my biggest struggle was not in having faith that God was at work and in control, but seeking His will more than mine being a huge growth mark for me on my spiritual growth chart!