Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Voice of Truth

Fishing trip off the coast of Florida July 2012
     Family members of ours were fishing off the coast of Florida several months ago and captured this picture of an ominous cloud before a rainstorm. BTW no family members were harmed during the making of this photo! Amazing though, isn't it? Downright creepy if you ask me! 
     I have been afraid of storms ever since I can remember. Not a good thing in Texas. I have come to deal with my fear of storms up to the level of tornadoes. I have laid in bed at night reciting the lyrics of the Casting Crowns song Praise You in this Storm reminding myself that God is who He is no matter where I am and is greater than the literal storm that was beating down on our home. I have also been known to spend time in our front bathtub holding our dog Scout reciting Scripture and praying because the threat of a tornado seemed so imminent. Me, oh my!
     Come to think of it, fear has played a big part in my life. Just like the ominous storm cloud pictured above my life has been affected by my many fears. I am sure I could bring my childhood experiences into it, but that seems counter productive at this point in my life. What seems to matter most to me now is being able to release my fears as they arise to the One who made me...fears and all.
     One thing I have learned as I attempt to release my fears to God is that He then takes my fear and replaces it with His peace. This sometimes takes much longer than I would like and multiple pleas. I never know specifically when He will appropriate it, but He never fails to do so if I persist in my reaching out to Him at such times.
     Most recently this took place just this past week when my husband and I were ending our vacation in Florida and although hurricane Isaac was no longer a threat to us in Florida, when it came inland it was stationed right in our path back home to Texas. Not only that, it was causing flooding and spawning tornadoes, my nemesis when it comes to storms! 
     The night before we left I was still very anxious about leaving and that is when God stepped in with His peace that passes understanding Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ. I have to be honest and tell you that I still had a "moment" at one point on our trip back when we were driving in some rain through Mississippi...but in reality it was not a threatening storm and I had to remind myself that God had given me His peace which told me He was with us and I knew if He was with us, then He was in control.
     I should have known was the Labor Day weekend marking the twenty year anniversary of when I first realized my marriage was in crisis back in 1992. A storm was on our horizon and my immediate response once again was fear. 
     To illustrate just how much the God of the universe knows His children, the Scripture He placed in my mind and heart over and over from the beginning of that trial was 1 John 4:18 NKJ which says this:  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. Be he who fears has not been made perfect in love. I interpreted that verse to mean that God was teaching me to love my husband more perfectly (Christlike) and that if that was my desire, I could not love him and allow fear to rule my behavior toward him.
     I could have very easily allowed fear to swallow me up during those months, and at times I wasn't sure if it wasn't going to. My biggest fear at that time was the fear of abandonment and God knew that. God loved me enough to allow me to face that fear so that I would know without a shadow of a doubt twenty years later and counting that I will never ever be abandoned by the One who loves me most.
     Another thing happened though, to my surprise quite honestly. The more I focused on my attempt to love my husband through that time, the less I became focused on the ultimate outcome. The fears would wax and wane, but as time went on God was finally able to bring me to the place of total release of my husband to Himself. It was hard, I won't lie. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life because when I made that decision I truly believed my husband would leave and never return.
     That morning my husband had left early to look for an apartment. As he drove off  I went to my sacred place which at the time was our bathroom (if you have kids I am sure you can relate)! After laying on that floor and crying my eyes out, I prayed and literally lifted my hands up to the sky and handed him over to God. I finally said Uncle! relinquishing any further attempts to control my husband and my circumstances.
     I would love to tell you that I stood up, opened the door of my restroom and was as strong as an oak the rest of the day. Not happenin'. I was a nervous wreck. I remember getting out and running errands with our girls that day...they were age 17, 15 and 12 at that time. The rest of it is pretty much of a blur until my husband returned that afternoon. When he did return, he had made the decision to move out. It was as if the several months of chaos prior to this day were culminating all at once. The storm cloud was getting ready to burst. 
     After the initial response of anger and pleading and then prayer, acceptance did finally come. It just so happened on that same day our youngest daughter, which was age 12 at the time had a birthday party to go to. My husband and I mutually decided it would best for her if we waited until she was picked up for the party before he left.
     In the meantime, my husband decided to go in and start packing some items. At this point I am still just a bundle of every emotion you can think of. He left the room and I started pacing and then it happened...God answered my prayer from that know, the one releasing my husband to Him? This peace washed over me that I could not explain except that it was the peace which passes understanding Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ.
     My husband got packed and we waited for our youngest daughter to leave and then it came time for my husband to go. He says I told him I would be waiting for him when he returned...I vaguely remember telling him that. I remember distinctly though, as soon as the door shut taking my two remaining daughters over to our sofa and praying with them.
     Well several hours went by. Our youngest daughter was still at her friend's birthday party. It was December and I had put the movie "White Christmas" in to watch with our two oldest girls hoping to distract us from the day. I was laying on our sofa and I heard a vehicle outside and it sounded like my husband's truck...but I was not about to go to that window! I would not allow myself to think it might actually be him returning. Well, then I heard the door knob turn. Yes it was him, he had returned. He was still filled with uncertainty about our marriage but he was certain he was to come home and that was enough for me at that point. God had brought him home, not me. Nothing I did or said, it was God in him that moved his heart back toward his family.
     The rest as they say is history. We remained in counseling for nine months ( I compare it to the gestation period)! What was birthed was a new beginning for our family. It may not be pretty, but it's real and it's ours. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NKJ  Inspite of ourselves, God's will prevailed in our family...He can in yours as well.
     Oh, and BTW not only did our two older daughters see their prayers answered that day when their dad came back home, but our youngest daughter did not return from her friend's party until after my husband had returned. It was as if he had never left as far as she was concerned. That's grace.
     We all have storms that seem to be Goliaths and it is in those most desperate times...when we are most afraid and most vulnerable that God reveals His truth to us if we choose to listen....the song titled Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns illustrates this beautifully and it is my song and my prayer for us all...
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NKJ 

...Until next time...


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