It’s amazing to think how much destruction one storm can do to a person’s life. Tornadoes recently wiped out everything in their path. Here one minute, completely obliterated the next. And the aftermath is heart breaking to say the least. Mourning the loss of things that once defined you, that you held precious, and are now reduced to debris is sad. Some of it is just trash. Things you toss out and throw away. Wow.
I think about those poor people in Oklahoma walking through what was once their home. They bend down to pick up something they recognize. The leg of a favorite chair they once watched their favorite TV show nestled in. A swatch of fabric from their bedding that once kept them warm. A shard of ceramic that was once their dinner plate. They pick it up, look at it, remember what it was and realize what it will never be again. And then they toss it back down and walk away from it for good.
Storms leave behind damage. That is what they do. It wouldn’t be a storm if there was no damage.
Every time a person who was once significant in your life leaves – there is damage. There are pieces of you that you have to leave behind. Bits of memories that you only shared with that person. And sometimes it’s hard to let go of these things. Especially if you held them dear. But they just aren’t what they once were.
Sometimes life throws you a day as if you’re walking along the sand with the waves crashing at your feet and before you within the wave is a piece of debris from your life. Something you thought you left behind long ago, or something you had forgotten about entirely. But for some reason it gets caught up in the tide and finds its way back to shore.
Suddenly you are faced with a piece of your past. A piece of the person you once were with a person you no longer even know.
Why does this happen? I don’t know. Maybe it’s God’s way of reminding you of lessons learned. Maybe it’s Him showing you the things you still need to clean up. Maybe He is redirecting your attention to past choices you made to show you where you are at on your path today and how far you’ve come. Sometimes they are merely nuisances giving color and depth to your life. Sometimes they are insignificant.
I guess that it’s possible to keep walking along the beach and not stop and take notice. But I don’t think God wants us to do that. I think He wants us to pay attention and deal with this stuff so that we can truly move forward without the past ensnaring us.
At the very least dealing honestly with the feelings that such encounters drudge up. Most often it is muck and mire that need to be waded through. Most often it is difficult and unpleasant. But that is life. It must be done.
I often find great comfort from reading the Psalms of David. He held nothing back – they are so human.
Psalm 40:2 says, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
I’m so grateful for a God who gives me proper perspective. A God who helps me see what is now precious and important and what is not. He shows me how my response to the debris that washes up onto shore at my feet can glorify Him and has many times nudged me silent when I would otherwise give way to flippant, badly thought out reactions.
I can look back now and see God’s hand of protection over my life even in the storms. Even when I thought I would not survive. Helping me know what to say and what not to say. Helping me see that this was my present but not my future.
From losing my dad to death, to losing my husband to divorce, to losing a friendship from betrayal. God has brought me out of the slimy pit where all I could see was pain, hurt, and destruction. Through His guidance I’ve been able to leave behind these pieces of me and also be able to hold my head up high and without shame. Because what He says is true IS actually TRUE. And I have that rock to hold onto.
It’s been said that it’s not if you will have a storm but when. They keep coming. There are seasons of life just as there are seasons on earth. Winter will come. And then come again.
Sometimes these storms are brought on by people who have ill will toward you. But something I’ve learned over the course of my life is that God absolutely honors integrity. No matter what people think of you, or say about you, or try to do to you. When the dust settles, sometimes after many years. He knows your heart and will bless you because you have honored Him.
Psalm 41-9-13 says, “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me. But may you have mercy on me, Lord; raise me up, that I may repay them. I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
It is a promise from God that He will not forsake us. Ultimately we are promised the hope of heaven with faith in Jesus. In this life we are promised peace and comfort in the midst of storms and if we ask and let Him guide us through the debris, we are given wisdom to know what to hold on to and what to let go of.