As a missionary kid I grew up in the midst of people giving their whole lives to service, to making the difference in someone else’s life, seeking to help and to share the gospel. Opportunities to travel the globe as a child and youth exposed me to needs, to political structures which stifled and caused harm to citizens. I knew from the age of 14 I wanted to work in public service.
This week thousands of us in public service, join the Points of Light Foundation in remembering President Bush’s inaugural speech and his call to action. We honor him, the legacy he built. I remember watching the speech. I remember the reference to the non-profit and government programs spread across the country “like shining stars”. I remember, in those moments, knowing I had chosen the career that was right for me. Today, as I serve the citizens of Arkansas, President Bush’s words continue to inspire me. Programs and processes do not change people. Programs ad processes may offer help, they may meet a concrete need, but they do not change people. People change people. I believe that, not just because of years of service with government and nonprofit organizations, but I believe that because I know we were created by God to have relationship. We were created to need one another.
My work plans for 2017 involve the launch of a system to connect people to other people, helping people meet the needs of others. In my personal life my desire for 2017 is to strengthen existing relationships and open myself up to new ones, to respond to needs when I see them. As a mother, my greatest desire has been to teach my children to connect to others, to see the needs of those around them and sacrifice their time and resources to meet them. That character trait is one I have desired to instill and rates high above grades or popularity in our home. My prayer this week is that they, my girls, and you will read the words of President Bush, be inspired, and then take action.
Yesterday storms rolled into my area. The weather man predicted 4-6 inches of rain, winds up to 70 mph, and the threat of tornadoes. I woke up in a stormy mood. I had a large Mary & Martha event scheduled. High winds and rain at the peak of the event were not quite what I had in mind. My business partner and her husband are going through some life transitions, which include jobs. One of my best friends is having to defend her job of 25 years. I had not completed my weekend list of “to do” items and someone had backed out of an event schedule for down the road. Quite frankly I woke up in a stormy mood, mad at the day, mad at life and REALLY mad at God. I’d say I was just frustrated, but that would be a lie. My feet hit the floor and I let the grey skies, high winds, rain and thunder ease me into an overall bad mood. My thoughts were stormy.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly our thoughts can be taken captive, can alter the course of our day? Nothing went right. I spilled my coffee. I had to run a load of laundry a second time because I had forgotten it the day before. I barked orders at my kids, told my husband my story of doom and gloom which I was certain to be my day. Soon, my whole house was feeling a bit stormy. Not good for a Monday. Despite my mood, I knew the day had to carry on. I got my daughter started on her home school assignments and gathered up my supplies for the Mary & Martha event. The storm hit and much to the dismay of the weather men, it didn’t hit with the force they had predicted. We got some decent wind, and a fair amount of rain, with some booming thunder, but that was it. (unfortunately south of us did get the damaging wind and there was a fatality) I put a little praise music on in the car and began to pray. I’d love to tell you I prayed a beautiful prayer, but it was anything but. It went more like this, “God, what are you doing? I swear I am giving it everything I have to obey you and this is what I get? Seriously? A storm on a Monday morning when I have a full day? …” Not pretty. Real, but not pretty.
The day went on. The Mary & Martha event went great and in fact, I made a new friend and met some wonderful women. My daughter got all her stuff done and we got to go watch my niece play volleyball and win. All day long though, despite the fact that things were working out, I felt myself holding on to the storm. I kept thinking, “I want to quit this day, go home, crawl in bed and call a do-over.” It wasn’t until I had my pajamas on, a plate of warm chicken pasta and some Blacklist recording that I gave any real to thought to my thoughts and actions and the storm. Just the thought of rain and high winds had gotten me all upset, worried, fretting. The same happens in life with the metaphorical storms. The truth was, I wasn’t ready for the storm. I could have loaded my car the night before. I could have sought scripture to pray for my friends. I could have sought God’s wisdom and asked for direction for my business and business partner. I could have called upon my prayer warriors asking for their intercession (which I did, but not until after my bad mood had sat in), I could have laid it all at His feet. Instead I carried it. I carried it in my head. The thoughts took on a life of their own and became actions. When I lay them at His feet there is no time for anxious thoughts to grow. He fills my mind with His truth and promises.
I sat feeling ashamed of my choices. I sat realizing despite me, the day had gone well. God was still in control. My self-inflicted storm created as the result of negative thinking about a real storm was nothing compared to the storms so many of my friends are facing, storms raging across this world: cancer, persecution, death, hunger. No, my storm was really nothing more than a lack of faith, a pity party for myself.
Storms come. Storms are real. We often have reason to fear the storm. But storms should not ruin our day. They should not take our thoughts captive and push the truth far from our minds. Storms should give us perspective. They should be the reminder that we need God, we need friends, we need to be ready. Dark clouds lingered for a bit this morning, but then the skies cleared and the air was crisp. The sun sparkled off the rain puddles. A new day. A new perspective. Confession from my lips. Gratitude to those who stood in the gap for me. A lesson learned. A spirit strengthened.
Don’t let the storms alter your truths. Remember. Most of all, be ready. Time in His word. Share your needs and worries with Him. Allow others to intercede on your behalf. Rest in the quiet before the storm and then let Him and His truths see you through the storm.