Life is filled with all kinds of storms. Some are wrought by natural disasters—floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or forest fires. People worldwide suffer because of storms caused by greed, malice, political corruption and ideologies.
Christmas morning 2017, my husband and I flew to Santa Rosa, California, to visit family. Along with the joy of spending time with loved ones, we were able to see areas destroyed by wildfires that swept through Northern California last autumn. Our hearts ached as we observed entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble. Often, a home’s foundation or chimney were all that remained.
Amid the devastation, the area was abuzz with sounds of new construction. Fresh green shoots popped through soil covered with charcoal ash. The power of humor was evident in messages such as on one left on a lonely fireplace, “Santa, please use the back door!” Despite the devastation of a firestorm, the light of hope shined.
Oh, the stories this charred neighborhood scene might tell!
For many years, I’ve seen many storms, which result from family dysfunction and even violence. Harmful relationships, unhealthy boundaries, neglect, or physical, emotional, verbal and spiritual abuse devastate those whose lives they touch.
Wreckage, as well as reconstruction, like we saw in California, often remind me of human storms I’ve seen—such as a remarkable young woman whom I’ll call Penny.
When I met her, Penny was snared in a traumatic family situation. From information gathered, I felt she was likely the victim of spiritual oppression and perhaps abuse.
The more I got to know Penny, the more I admired this young woman’s resilience. She possessed grit and strength of character I had rarely observed! Despite the domination under which she’d lived, Penny knew who she was. She grasped her intrinsic worth. She hadn’t lost her grip of heartfelt dreams and desires. She was able to recognize and even laugh at some of her preconceived notions and prejudices about those whose faith journey was radically different than her previous exposure.
Penny impressed me. She inspired me.
As I became better acquainted with her, I developed the visual of a foundation—one of those lovely foundations made of large river rock. The house built on top of the foundation was pretty beat up. Even though a man-made storm had ripped it apart, Penny’s foundation was strong. I had no doubt reconstruction was going to happen, and imagined the new dwelling would be more beautiful than even Penny’s dreams could conceive.
A rock-solid foundation remined.
I observed the foundation on which Penny’s life appeared to have been built: sincere faith, diligent study, obedience to what she believed honored God in addition to the extravagant grace and faithfulness of the Divine.
I think Jesus must have had believers like Penny in mind when he spoke the concluding words in his famous Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:17-49):
I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins. (NLT)
Are you experiencing some type of personal storm? If that is your current reality, I’m asking God as I conclude today’s post to fill you with courage, strength, resolve, hope and joy.
Cheering you on…