Sunday, October 6, 2013

Learning to Love a 'Good' Storm

My husband and I are very different. In many ways. One example is that I love rain; he loves storms. And while it may seem that I'm just parsing words, there's a big difference in what we love when it comes to wetness emerging from the sky. When I think of rain, the following resonates:

   I hear leaves drinking rain;
   I hear rich leaves on top
   Giving the poor beneath
   Drop after drop;
   'Tis a sweet noise to hear
   These green leaves drinking near.

   And when the Sun comes out,
   After this Rain shall stop,
   A wondrous Light will fill
   Each dark, round drop;
   I hope the Sun shines bright;
   'Twill be a lovely sight.
             - The Rain by William Henry Davies

I love what is soothing about rain. What it does to the earth. The good that comes from it - both in my spirit and in the world around me. But as much as I love rain (albeit on a limited basis), I grew up never really wanting to experience a storm. To me, a storm brings fear, it brings the loss of things we love (like power and cable and trees and roofs), and it means we should hunker down and hope for the best. So, I came into our marriage with a NOAA weather radio - programmed to notify me of potential storms in my county, and the counties where my immediate family members resided. I wanted to be prepared for the storm, and able to notify my family that they should be prepared for what was coming as well. I'm not sure I ever thought about enjoying a storm. Until I met Colman.

Colman is an artist at heart. And specifically, he's a photographer by trade. So, he's drawn to light, to the majestic of any kind, and to the things that convey power through the senses. So, lighting brings brilliance and thunder brings awareness. About storms, Colman says, "There's just nothing else like it." He likes how powerful a storm is. And he's not afraid of it. He loves its beauty. And he's not intimidated by it. And I have learned to love his love for storms. I don't have my own love for storms, at least not the way I love rain or the way he loves storms. But I love what a storm does to my husband. What it brings out in him.

Recently, we were talking with friends about how much Colman loves a good storm. And he said to me, during this conversation, that I'd gotten to where I love storms too; he was trying to get me to admit that I'd come around to his way of thinking. But I said, "No. I just really like you." And it's true; I now approach the storms with him. But I'm drawn to him, and he's drawn to storms. So, if I want to be near my husband during a storm, I'm going to find myself on the front porch instead of in the tub. And I'm learning to appreciate the storms in my own way. But I hope I never get over how much I really like my husband. And how I like seeing the world through his eyes (as much as I can). And how he brings something to my life that I would never cultivate on my own. Such as a love for storms. Something I can hardly explain.

Proud Music of The Storm by Walt Whitman
PROUD music of the storm!
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the prairies!
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the mountains!
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras!
You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature’s rhythmus, all the tongues of nations;
You chords left us by vast composers! you choruses!
You formless, free, religious dances! you from the Orient!
You undertone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts;
You sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry!
Echoes of camps, with all the different bugle-calls!
Trooping tumultuous, filling the midnight late, bending me powerless,
Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber—Why have you seiz’d me?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Worthy Words

I've had such great intentions to blog. But when it comes down to it, I always find reasons to not do it. I don't have time. I don't think about it when I do have time. Or, I wonder: What do I even have to blog about?

But then I read other friends' blogs, and their subject matter is often simple. It's just a way for them to capture moments. To not let their lives pass them by without reflection. But it seems I still need a "prompt" – a place to start from. So, today, I decided. I decided I would start with whatever Bible verse(s) I'd read that day and reflect on how the Scripture relates to my life and where I am in my journey. I thought the prompt could have a dual purpose – to help me fully internalize what God is trying to say to me, and to get me writing again.

So, I went into YouVersion to pull up my reading for today from my current reading plan about God's promises. But what was I faced with upon opening the app? YouVersion's verse of the day - NOT what I was planning to blog about. It reads: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15). And this just makes me further reflect on my good intentions gone unfulfilled.

Isn't that how most of us become the worst of sinners? Most of us don't set out to do wrong. We just wind up failing miserably at doing right. We got derailed along the way. We got focused on the wrong thing. We got busy and forgot what was important. But the amazing thing is: God is there. He's always there. Whether we are actively present with Him or not, He is actively present with us.

The verse I planned to use as my prompt for this post and my point of reflection reads: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6). What an amazingly perfect verse to counter the “verse of the day” I quoted above! Although I must fully accept that Christ came to save sinners (like me) and recognize my role as such (which I agree, I am among the worst), God also provides guidance on how to make my path straight – by submitting to Him, leaning on Him and trusting Him with all my heart. The promise the verse offers (according to my reading plan, i.e., I stole this): If I trust God and seek him, He will show me the way to go. Yet alas, as much as this guidance and promise make sense, therein lies the problem. I don't always submit. I don't always lean. I don't always trust. I don't always seek. Or at least not ENOUGH. I still slip. I still fall. (Daily.) And sometimes it's so far from the path that God would have me on. But fortunately, the redemption remains.

My solace is in the fact that, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). You see, we can’t out-sin God’s grace. He’s got more than enough. And if we need more, he’s got more to provide. And knowing that gives us freedom to stop thinking about how good or bad we are, and to just start focusing on getting to know God more and better and discovering how loving He is that He would save us from ourselves.

But I find it so interesting that, when I Googled “greater sin results in more salvation” (which is NOT the way to find Rom 5:20, by the way), the results generated were links to the following questions that others had posed: “What is the greatest sin?” “How much sin results in the loss of salvation?” “Are there different degrees of sin?” And I’m wondering what these questions really mean. Are we looking for how much we can sin and still go to heaven? Are we looking for ways to judge others based on the severity of their sin? Are we trying to decide if God can forgive even X?

I’m learning that, while God certainly doesn’t want me to sin, my sin doesn’t scare Him away. He doesn’t just love me or others when we’re not sinning. And it’s the recognition that He conquered sin that redeems us, not our own ability to conquer sin once we’re saved. He’s not looking for perfect people (thank goodness, since there are none!). He’s looking for us to recognize His perfect love. And He just wants us to live in response to that love. Wow.

Now, if you ask me, THAT’s something worth blogging about!