Roller coaster. It's the only way that I can think of to describe the seven days (March 15-22). I choose not to go into the details, for multiple reasons, but suffice it to say a really tough situation came up at school that was much more mentally and emotionally stressful than I would have thought, albeit maybe more than it should have been. It left me wounded, and I was confused: I didn't understand how it was happening, especially to me, and I didn't know why. There were highs and lows during those seven days; there was trying to figure things out without trying to take control, and there was trying to not let the situation continue to leave me feeling so shaken. In the end, it was resolved, and never have I felt so much relief, and thankfulness. Yet, even then, I had to wonder "why?" and, even now, I still don't know . . . and probably never will.

I do know the situation was a major "faith check" for me. I knew there was no reason not to trust God: I knew He was faithful, in control, and perfectly good. Still I found it challenging to truly believe that, no matter how much I wanted to; it was as if there was a broken connection somewhere between my brain and my heart. It wasn't even so much that I stopped trusting God, but that I stopped trusting Him completely and in such a way that it had an actual effect on my heart, life, attitude, thoughts . . . because I still worried. It was frustrating, somewhat disappointing, and a little scary, too, how the situation so easily consumed my thoughts and caused me to worry. Of course, trust is hardly a new challenge for me, but I suppose I wanted it to be less of one, seeing as though "I ought to have made some progress between point A and point B" and seeing as though "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28). And God did work everything out.

On the Sunday during those seven days, the Cornerstone professor who spoke at our church twice during our Pastor's month-long sabbatical, Dr. Turner, had an excellent message about discipleship, which centered around the story of the disciples and Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a bad storm, which terrified the disciples, who fearfully woke up Jesus (yes, He was asleep). And then, simply:
But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
       ~ Matthew 8:26
As Dr. Turner reminded us, Jesus never promised that we, His followers, would have "smooth sailing". We are going to have trials and storms in life, but through it all, Jesus asks us, simply: "Where is your faith?" and we must trust what He does promise, and that is that we will "make it to the other side".

I am safely on the "other side", but, as I realized, through this storm, Christ was asking me where my faith was. I want to say it was unwaveringly in Him, but that wouldn't be accurate, at least not completely. In thinking about this, I have come to recognize how incredible it is that every storm we face and, really, every day are opportunities for us to truly trust Christ; He gives us these chances to glorify Him by, in part, trusting Him, over and over and over throughout our lives! And He is always unwaveringly faithful, despite our wavering faith, and always brings us to the other side. I can now more than ever attest to the "great calm" that is found there.

That Sunday, also, we sang probably one of my favorite songs: "Still". I just love the lyrics, and to sing them and hear them was like a hug from God.
Hide me now
under Your wings.
Cover me
within Your mighty hand.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are king over the flood.
I will be still and know You are God.

Find rest, my soul,
in Christ alone.
Know His power
in quietness and trust.
      ~ "Still", Reuben Morgan
I can also say that this situation was eye opening in terms of seeing just how comfortable and perhaps complacent I had become with my life. It is easy to get in the groove, day to day, and be content with the routine and content with ministries you are involved in and content with your relationship with Christ. It is easy to not want to stretch outside your comfort zone or force yourself to grow spiritually and relationally. Personally, my happy, nice little life had gotten maybe just a bit too familiar, too comfortable. I am thankful for this realization, and thankful that even in the midst of this situation, God gave me the opportunity to invite someone to church . . . someone who I never would have otherwise, most likely. He is good. :)

The Tuesday night following the "end" of the seven days, a bad ice storm hit western Michigan. The next morning, everything was covered in ice, sparkling and shimmering in the sunlight. It was incredible. One of my very good friends wrote on Facebook:
"Amazing how terrible weather can look so beautiful! I'm so grateful to God for His plan to make me beautiful even by allowing storms in my life."
I certainly wouldn't choose to go through storms, if it were up to me. Yet, I know (and am so thankful) that God is in control and always has my best interest at heart, even if that means allowing storms in my life. It's all part of His perfect plan . . . a plan to make me beautiful: more like Christ.

Bring the rain.

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