Updated: Mar 31, 2020
After listening and appealing to God’s recurrent prompting to share about the stewardship journey of our beloved son, I finally forfeited my self-centered case. I conceded to an unmedicated labor of the soul that birthed words of truth freeing the nonverbal language held at ransom within me.
This blog post yielded unexpected conversations of mutual encouragement, healing, and comfort. It was a gift to my heart and a keepsake I treasure. The liberation of those words also initiated the closure process to a winter season of my soul. Suddenly, I became acutely aware of my soul holding an ending. And a time of transition gradually and gently surfaced.
The prior decade of my life holds a stormy season.
The result of a storm is often worse than the storm itself. For a time, damaging eternal effects were leftover from the darkness I weathered. Thankfully, a Power greater than the threat rerouted the purpose of the storms into a loving, life-preserving, and oftentimes agonizing, winter season of the soul.
One after another, stormy circumstances inundated every area of my life without warning or mercy, leaving no space to catch my breath in between the waves attempting to drown me. My efforts to mend only perpetuated the intensity of the storm. As a news station includes a caption on the screen highlighting breaking news for viewers, my life’s “news ticker” would have read: “Flash Flood Warning: Too late to escape and no dry land in sight. P.S. Rafts and floats are out of stock.”
It may feel like a category 5 hurricane has unexpectedly overtaken our life, but the truth is we have the power to navigate to a Safe Place.
Though the wall of a hurricane towers over the eye of a storm, raging with threats of destruction, there is a force that deflects the heavy winds away from the center. In fact, one could behold blue skies, or stars shining in the night when positioned in the eye of the storm.
In the same way, the enemy assumes an intimidating posture chanting false accusations of holding power over our life. It is tempting to respond defensively to combat fear, but God offers a safe retreat in the eye of the storm with Him.
Through difficult times, pounding tension, and the wrestling of our faith, we have a choice because of the free will God granted. We can allow the disruption and uprooting of life to cause us to ignore God, the only One who has the power to calm storms and rebuild lives. Or, we can allow sudden storms to become the propelling force behind surrendering our entire soul within the safe place of His presence.
The latter is life-saving and leads to freedom.
Over and over again God pursued me through the overwhelming storms intended to destroy me. I remained for a distinct time seeking shelter in the “eye” of the storm. It was there I took note that stars are not bothered by darkness, rather the threat only enhances the impact of their purpose.
Engaging, rather than escaping from every wind and wave, and wrestling the cyclic undertow, revealed the rocky and sharp foundation, unbeknownst to me, my heart was planted in.
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
Matthew 13:20-22 ESV
The good Gardener started a process of excavating, layer by layer, the rocky barriers, and dislocating, one by one, the thorns of debris within my heart. Each time I apprehensively accepted an invitation into His Light, my soul was unearthed, uprooted, and redeemed from a contaminated foundation. Relinquishing my will for His, no longer could I unknowingly hide behind religious illusions, fancy facades of this world, or false versions of myself others desired for me to uphold.
Thankfully, I found living waters flowing in abundance beneath the hard surface, ready to nourish the brand new soil of Life being transplanted within me.
“Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
John 4: 13-14 MSG
A hurricane diminishes when it makes landfall because the terrain cuts off the circulation perpetuating it. Allowing our heart to land upon the true Foundation, the Word of God, ends the violent storm within our soul. His Way suspends the winds, His Truth brightens the darkness, and His Life restores our losses.
Darkness aims to conceal what is deceptively stealing life from the soul. Light reveals to heal. And throughout this journey, the warmth of His Light safely covered and nurtured the vulnerable places of my life.
Deciding to obediently and courageously take the more narrow path, even with doubt strapped on our back, creates an opportunity for godliness to grow. Avoiding or repressing honest emotions, thoughts, questions, and pain, or hiding behind a wall of apathy, creates internal roadblocks. Being forthright before God reopens a pathway inside the heart for Truth to travel until it locates a suitable home to nest.
With fewer travelers than expected, this path is more quiet, yet holds every ingredient needed to be sustained, fulfilled, and freed. The answers are wrapped differently than predicted and timing does not align with logic. It is a space where rhythms of grace are uncovered. The world’s rushing ways and microwaved solutions are not found here. This Master Chef is not deterred by extensive steps, or endless hours of simmering, for He knows the purpose is within the process.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
Faithful stewardship, rather than selfish striving, is discovered here. Discipline and obedience are cultivated, crucifying the limbs of comfort, performance, and perfection. Amongst these noteworthy treasures, an enlightenment of the intentional pursuit of our heart, encased in unimaginable patient love, is the most humbling gift received. Pure wonder.
Once the storm began to settle around me, my lethargic soul was greeted by an undercover current flowing at a significantly slower pace. Captivated by the unusual cadence, I descended into the silence surrounding me. This naturally progressed into taking a pause without a set endpoint or specific plan. This was the entry point of becoming profoundly aware of the new ways God was revealing Himself to me.
Over the past six months, I quieted myself, and the distractions I could control, to reflect, record lessons learned, and tie up loose ends by following where the Light led. I counted the fruit, wept once more over losses, and expressed prayers of thankfulness for how God graciously cared for me. This ordained time could be referred to as an extended memorial service. Everything felt sacred, holy, and tender. With the time I gathered, I honored the stormy season before its burial.
There is freedom in understanding the season of the soul one abides and surrendering to the profound purpose the process carries. For each season embodies specific climatic features distinguishing one from another.
Prematurely exiting a season, rather than leaning into the unfamiliar and uncomfortable path, limits the necessary growth vital for the obedient safekeeping of the soul. Overflowing into calling, purpose, and most importantly those within arms reach, the impact will be either fruitful or detrimental, dependent upon our concession to the deep work our Good Father is cultivating for our good.
Thankfully, grace has a way of interrupting preterm detours to initiate a repeat cycle.
No season is intended to last forever.
Sweet Friend, you might need to hear that a second time:
(Inhale...) No season is intended to last forever. (Exhale...)
Even when the sweltering temperatures of summer refuse to give up reign, the leaves are not threatened from falling anyways. Mediated by a Sovereign Power, this collision of two environments ushers in a transition time where boundary lines seek to find their new home. At first, this pause may feel a bit clumsy, but a posture of rest, trust, and hope instills strength to wait well.
Eventually, a new horizon came into view within my soul. The prologue, He authored and shared with me for the new season settling in, left me wrestling some details, especially since it did not match what I could see.
God acknowledged my tension and spoke to my heart,
“Steward the viewpoint you see, and trust Me with the angles unseen.”
It felt like I was handed multiple puzzle pieces each originating from a different puzzle set. In my mind, I could never make these pieces fit together.
He gently spoke again,
“It’s not a puzzle, it’s a mosaic. This time you won’t fall apart because I Am the glue that holds the pieces of your life together.”
With a weighty, “Yes, Lord. Here I am, send me,” a period of asking, seeking, knocking, and silent steps of obedience were placed into motion.
The realignment of our soul, through the turbulent and chilly seasons, redraws life’s boundary lines in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6). God shifts our perspective to a higher view opening our eyes to perceive something we hadn’t considered before.
The mark has not been missed and neither has time run out. God safeguards our soul for flourishing and His Kingdom purpose.
Friend, if you are in the middle of a storm, seeking to safely navigate to the “eye,” with water up to your nose, may you be rescued by the Word of God and not let go. Continue feeding on His manna, abiding in His shelter, rather than locating an exit. This is developing endurance and cultivating capacity within you - significant components to flourishing. He has a planned and purposeful pause approaching that extends a gift of rest during your hiddenness.
Perhaps, you survived the hurricane aimed to destroy you. Residing in a season of waiting, reshaping into transition, you are 'chomping at the bit' for a new view and fresh air. Friend, may you refrain from making your own way and surrender in His green pastures. His rest is your best dress. For there will be a cycle of tests, during this pause, that reveal the condition of your heart. This is essential before a fresh start flows out from your Father's heart.
Or maybe, you feel the Spirit beckoning you to emerge from the dark cocoon that swaddled you in the tender moments of purposed darkness. Yet with each flutter of your wings, the resistance seems impossible to breakthrough and fear overtakes you. Friend, your attempts are not in vain. Bondage is breaking off with every effort and God is transforming the leftovers of your soul into a new beginning. You burst out by believing your identity: You are His Daughter and you are set free.
I wrote the following prayer for a dear brother in Christ, whom my family is honored to cheer on in his race, and it is my prayer for every soul here today...
"May your quieted soul and tender heart invite
His wonder-working power to reset the normal.
May you learn the ways of wading in deep waters
by surrendering your plans, trusting His promises,
and enduring the storm.
When the waves of life leave little breathing room,
rather than calling out for a rescue boat,
or locating an escape route,
may you look to the One who
remains sovereign over the storm.
May you remember you have not been called to an emergency exit,
even when it seems like the only option.
For this process inscribes faith, perseverance,
and character within your heart,
rewriting your future in the ink of abundance.
As Kingdom sovereignty collides with your faithful obedience,
may His peace navigate your soul to a Safe Harbor.
May you steward the present season from His heart,
not from personal vindication.
May you not give up or give in to
easier ways that create delays.
May you stay the course with your Father,
and take note along the way, of His gifts wrapped in grace.
Much love to you!
"Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time. He quieted the wind down to a whisper, put a muzzle on all the big waves. And you were so glad when the storm died down, and he led you safely back to harbor. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.”
Psalm 107:28-31 MSG