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Bent Over, Broken, and Uprooted

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Last week, a severe thunderstorm swept through our valley.  The storm came quickly and its fierceness was unexpected.  The wind was strong and the rain was heavy.  After the storm, we assessed the damage.  Several trees in the neighborhood were either bent over, broken, or uprooted.

Bent over

Bent over

Broken

Broken

Uprooted (well, almost - but bear with me!)

Uprooted (well, almost – but bear with me!)

Such are the storms of life.  Sometimes, an unexpected tragedy hits us out of nowhere.  Spiritually speaking, the storm can either leave us bent over, broken, or uprooted.

  • Bent Over – We are doubled over in emotional pain and spiritual exhaustion.  We can barely stand on our own two feet and need to lean upon someone or something to get us through.  We may even be on our hands and knees.  Hopefully, when we are in this posture, we turn our hearts in prayer to our Heavenly Father who loves us.
  • Broken – We are more than bent over but not quite uprooted.  Something in our midst was weak that allowed the storm to break us in pieces.   A bit of us is still standing, but our shape is marred.  Further pruning may be required to salvage the remaining stump and encourage new growth.
  • Uprooted – Our roots were not strong or deep enough to allow us to withstand through the storm.  Our life’s foundation has been totally destroyed.  What is left of us can only be cut up and burned in the fire.  We must plant new life and allow it to grow.

This analogy has caused me to think about my own spiritual walk and how the storm of Isaac’s death has affected my life.  I don’t think I was uprooted because my spiritual roots were in Jesus Christ and they still are.  I was more than bent over, which left me feeling broken.  I still feel as through some of my broken pieces need to be cleaned up, even as new growth has sprouted out of my remaining “stump”.  Lord, will you help me to feel whole again?

If you have experienced an intense storm in your life, in which of these three positions has it left you?

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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The Lord Gives, the Lord Takes Away

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. (Job 1:20-22)

You may have read or heard about the recent storms and tornadoes that swept through areas of Arkansas. Below is a link to an article about families who experienced loss from those storms. Having a loose connection to the FamilyLife ministry, and because children were involved, we are especially touched by this tragedy.

The Lord Gives, the Lord Takes Away#.U2IiRIXy3zN

 

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Still Standing

Last night we endured another storm of sorts…

The storm named Sandy moved through our area.  I was awakened in the early morning hours as the howling wind and driving rain pounded into our house.  I arose several times to assess the status of our home.  All was safe and well on the inside as the outside of our home withstood quite an assault, anchored fast to its foundation.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Mat 7:24-27)

In comparison to how this storm pounded our house, when the storms of life pound on our humanity, our outer shells (body, mind, will and emotions) take quite a beating.  But, if we are anchored to the Rock of Jesus Christ and walking in His ways, our spirits are safe and secure.  We can have peace, hope and security because no storm of life or foe can pluck us from His grasp.

 

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Up and Down, Round and Round

We recently acquired a “teeter-totter go-round thingy” (my technical name) for amusement and exercise. The ride has two seats on opposing ends of a slightly curved bar which allows for the riders to alternate going up and down (the teeter-totter effect). The riders can also spin around in a circle, even at great speeds depending on the leg strength of the person initiating the spinning. Instead of you imagining what this may look like, you can see for yourself from the video below:

As I watched our children enjoy themselves playing on this toy, I began to draw parallels to our grief journey. Several people have asked me recently how we are doing. My response has been “up and down”. Some days we feel “up” and some days we feel “down”. The “downs” don’t seem to be quite as low as they used to be and we can rebound ourselves back into the “up” position, mainly through meditating on God’s Word and encouraging each other with His promises. However, we still struggle with reconciling His promises of protection to our circumstances. But again, I am looking at situations through my human eyes and not through my spiritual lenses. Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!

What about the “round and round” effect? At times, grief can leave you feeling like you are spinning out of control. You feel dizzy and nauseated. You want the ride to stop, but you have no control to stop it. If you stop holding on tightly and let go, you will fall and hurt yourself, possibly to great extent.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (Heb 10:23)

Have your experienced these effects on your journey through tribulation?

In closing, a brother in Christ recently posted about “a glimpse of heaven” that he experienced. We recently had a similar experience in our backyard. As foreboding storm clouds rolled over us, an opening in the middle briefly appeared. Through the opening, sunlight reflected off the clouds creating a brilliant bright white glow that warmed out hearts. I was reminded that even though clouds from the storms of life might block our view of the Son, he is still here with us providing His guiding light.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. (Psa 27:9)

…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Heb 13:5b)

Blessings,

Andy

 

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Handling Grief – Praise

“Praise You in This Storm”

I was listening to this song the other day (yes, I like songs by Casting Crowns) and was meditating on the lyrics, especially the chorus. I thought how easy it is to sing these words and mean it from my heart, but then how hard it is put them into practice. I can think and declare that I will praise God in the storms of life, but what happens when a very real and severe one comes? What happens when our faith is stripped to its core, when our understanding of God is challenged? Do we still trust Him? Do we still believe that He is good? Can we digest every word in His book, both His words of grace and of judgment, and allow those words to penetrate and examine our own hearts and reveal what is truly inside of us? Can we discern the truth from the lies that even well-meaning Christians speak or write? Can we trust that the writer of a book or the preacher on the radio, television, CD or MP3 is really communicating a word from God? Are we willing to take in not just what will tickle your ears but will challenge us? When we can’t feel God’s presence and enjoy Him do we still believe that He even exists and loves us? Does He still have a plan for our lives? We wrestle with these questions.

When everything is stripped away and we are left with nothing to offer to God and wondering where He is, but choose to still believe in, love and trust Him, that is worship. We can praise Him for His goodness and mercy even though we may not understand or see. When we choose to praise God for who He is, we take our focus off of our own heartache and allow the God of the universe to show little us more of who He truly is. I am amazed at His love towards us. So, for today, I will praise Him in our storm.

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:20-21)

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him… (Job 13:15a)

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Stormy Night

Someone recently said to us that, given the trials we’ve been experiencing, it is like a storm is constantly circling around our family, waiting to strike us.  Well, last night we experienced a night in the midst of a literal physical storm.  We camped out in our backyard under our tent.  I don’t know if you have ever been out in the open during an intense thunderstorm, but it was awesome!  The thunder shook the ground that we were lying upon.  The lightning lit up the inside of the tent.  The rain poured quite heavy at times.  Since I didn’t have the rain fly on quite right, we got a little wet :-).  Storm after storm came over us throughout the entire night.  Just as one started to wind down, another one would wind up.  At one point, I sat up taking it all in when the thunder cracked (it seemed to be right over my head) and I fell back to the ground in fright.  We were at the very top of our yard and couldn’t flee to the house because of the storm’s intensity.  However, we were protected in our thin and vulnerable tent in the midst of the storm.  We didn’t choose the storm to happen, but we were sate in the midst of it.  I have never experienced anything quite like it.

Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? (Job 40:9)

The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. (Psa 77:17-18)

But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. (Luk 8:23-25)

For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. (Luk 17:24)

In awe of His mighty power,

Andy

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Family Updates

 

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