DALLAS, TX – There are times in the lives of pastors that storms enter into the picture. I am in the midst of one right now and I thought it would help someone else who is going through a storm to offer some pastoral “storm talk.”
First, No One Asks For a Storm . . .
You would have to be out of your mind to request a storm. After all, even though we know (somewhere in our hearts) that the Lord is able to help you handle a storm that may arise in your life, no one is crazy enough to go before God, like at a drive-through window and say, “Yes, God, I would like to have the extra large storm combination, with a side order of heart-wounding instead of tears, and can you make that with a large drink of sorrow? Also, put extra pain on it.” Storms come, literally, into our lives without request. The storm I’m going through right now is not because of doing wrong, but because of doing right, and yet, the storm has come.
Secondly, No One Is Really Prepared for a Storm . . .
No matter how residents of Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia are prepared, when a hurricane comes, it shows you that there was an area that you missed. For me, I was prepared for the opposite results of a storm – I was prepared for the rejoicing, the “thank you Jesus moment” that never came and I was not prepared for the storm. The aftermath of the storm has been painful. And the decisions that will be forthcoming as a result will be strenous. But there is no amount of wood panels that will salvage some dwellings because of the intensity of a storm. My personal storm is caused a portion of me to die – because I was prepared for positive results and never prepared for negative results.
Thirdly, No One Can Adequately Describe the Storm . . .
I wish I could go into details about my personal storm, however, I have learned that no matter how you try to describe a storm – you really can’t. Most people when they deal with an insurance adjuster, the adjuster can make a quick mental picture of the damage because he or she has seen it over and over again – but each storm is unique. My storm may be different from your storm. It may have flattened both of our houses, but the winds may have torn your house down and the waves tore mine down. I’ve had concerned church members and friends, call, email and text me, out of loving concern asking what’s going on, but I’m still in shock; I can’t describe it fully; the more I do, the angrier and more hurt I become; so, I’ve learned instead of responding, not to say a word.
Fourthly, No One Can Understand What God Is Really Doing . . .
This is the most painful of this catharsis in blogging. I trust God, I really do. I love Him, I really do. But there is a part of me, like Job, that’s willing to wonder out loud about the Lord’s judgments and mercies. I’m wondering why am I going through all of this? A dear friend of mine had to remind me yesterday that “just because you’re a pastor, doesn’t mean your tax exempt from trouble.” God could have stopped this. God could have intervened and said, “enough is enough.” God could have flipped the script and made that which was a disaster turn into a testimony of His greatness and power. Instead, God allowed the storm to churn and churn and churn – even though I’m at the top of my lungs screaming, “Lord help me,” He still allows the storm. Why? I can’t answer that today. Maybe God is teaching me something through this storm; Maybe God is preparing my heart for a miracle; Maybe God is toughening me up for the next storm; I don’t know, but as a believer, I have to say, “thy will be done.” I may not like it. It may not be what I want it to be. But no one ever said following God is easy. Loving He who sometimes allows preventable pain to come your way is one of the syllogisms of life.
Therefore, I stand in the storm and sing one of the songs of my faith that have meant so much to me in my 52 years of living:
Master, the tempest is raging.
The billows are tossing high.
The sky is o’er shadowed with blackness,
no shelter or help is nigh.
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
when each moment so madly is threatning,
a grave in the angry deep?
The winds and the waves
shall obey my will, peace be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
or demons, or men, or whatever it be.
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies;
they shall sweetly obey my will,
peace be still, peace be still.
They all shall sweetly obey my will;
peace, peace be still.
Master, with anguish of spirit I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
sweep o’er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!
Master, the terror is over, the elements sweetly rest.
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
and heaven’s within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
and with joy I shall make the blest harbor
and rest on the blissful shore.
Robert Earl Houston
October 17, 2012