- Rev. Michelle Vernone
Find Joy in the Storm
God has a difficult sense of timing and/or humor.
I’ve been praying for rain. Beautiful, powerful, South Texas rainstorms to be specific. I wanted them to come during an evening/afternoon where I could be home, with my pups, in my jammies, with nothing else to do but enjoy the sound the storm and feel the cool breeze from the front that blew it in. I’ve been posting on Facebook about my near desperate need for a break from the heat. And as I write this, it is late Sunday afternoon and I am in my jammies, with my dogs, listening to the sound of the thunderstorms I’ve been praying that God would send. Unfortunately, God missed the, “with nothing else to do but enjoy the storm” part of my request. I am in sitting in the dark because the power is out and all the things I need to get done before tomorrow are sitting undone (with the exception of writing my newsletter article) because I need electricity to get them done. And yet…
I seem to understand what God is teaching me in this moment. God seems to be inviting me to enjoy the storm. My dogs are alternately hiding under the covers or climbing all over me, but I feel God inviting me to find rest, joy, and delight in the storm.
There are some dueling images that describe, what I believe, are our spiritual/physical circumstances. The summer has been long, hot, and dry. Unrelenting. Difficult to endure. For many in our community, the summer has been emotionally dry, hot, and exhausting. Many have dealt with a constant onslaught of circumstances, disappointments, health issues, or family crises and are just plain worn out. As a pastor, the Summer is a difficult and challenging season. Attendance drops significantly because people are out of town, taking vacation, doing “more” on the weekends that take them away. And when attendance drops, giving drops, for a multitude of reasons. People aren’t here so they aren’t physically present to give. Some have over-spent from vacations and trips so they have to find other places to cut back. Then there are the “it never fails” horrors of Summer when the air conditioning goes out or other unexpected financial burdens emerge. It’s just been a tough Summer for so many in our community and for me too.
I wanted, no, needed, the rain as a sign that there would be a change in the physical, emotional, and spiritual atmosphere – that we were moving into a season of refreshing and abundance.
What I forgot was that I can’t control the rain, or the storms. I can’t have their beauty and power without the consequences of that power. How many times have I prayed for God to “do” something – to show up – to bring change – only to not be grateful for the change God provided. I wanted a break from the heat. I wanted rainstorms. I also expected the electricity to stay on. I forgot that sometimes the change doesn’t just bring refreshment. Sometimes the change we’ve asked God to provide is bigger, more powerful than we hoped for or desired. Sometimes the “new thing” God is doing feels scarier than the place we were sure we couldn’t endure a moment longer.
As we continue to pray for God to move in our community, as we pray for God bring healing, restoration, provision, protection – change – are we ready to receive and participate in how God answers our prayers?
We needed a change in the weather. Are we ready to find joy in the storm?
Grace and Peace