Tornadoes have been on my mind A LOT in the last few weeks.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m from Oklahoma. Normally by the first part of June, storm season is winding down. But this year, it didn’t get started until late May. Even as Moore begins the long process of rebuilding from the EF-5 that devastated her, we’ve spent the last two weeks with what seems to be daily tornado outbreaks. Only 11 days after Moore was decimated, we found ourselves in the shelter listening to yet another EF-5 that measured 2.6 miles wide and had wind speeds of 296 mph—the largest EVER recorded. Even we Okies are shaking our heads, in disbelief about the strength, magnificence, and size of the storms that have rocked our world.
Many people outside of Oklahoma are terrified of tornadoes. As Okies, many of us look forward to storm season. We love the sound of the thunder and find beauty in the lightning. There’s nothing better than the smell after a good rain. We are fascinated with the power of tornadoes (even if we hate the destruction and devastation).
Over the years, I have learned to not just tolerate the Oklahoma weather, but to enjoy it (most days). It just makes me laugh to think that I might need shorts and flip-flops at 10 am, but a heavy coat by 5 pm. But my favorite time of year is storm season. No, I don’t like the destruction and devastation. I don’t like the damage caused by hailstorms or the high insurance premiums we pay on our homes. I don’t like to see people injured and killed. But, I love to fall asleep to the sound of the thunder rumbling. I love to listen to the rain gently (or not so gently) falling. I love to watch the beauty of the lightning as it lights up the night sky. I am fascinated with the power that is exhibited, while at the same time I have a healthy dose of fear. When I am told to seek shelter, I do exactly that. But, as long as it is safe, I will watch with fascination as all of the elements come together to form this powerful force that has brought so much destruction to our precious state in the last few weeks.
But, we are known for our tornadoes—especially this year. Two days ago, I stood on my back porch and watched a tornado form. I was mesmerized as this giant, dark wall cloud hovered over our house. We saw small clouds—or scuds—dropping from this cloud and being pulled into a large, central lowering. Then, we watched as the massive form above us began to rotate. It began moving faster and growing at an alarming rate. Suddenly, the hot, muggy air was replaced by a cold wind that overtook the atmosphere.
As I’ve contemplated this scene and the destruction that followed the storm, my mind has been drawn to my own life. I see it as a visual depiction of what is going on right now on this journey called life. I have scuds dropping out of my life—hopes and dreams and passions. Many of these hopes and dreams have been in my heart and mind since I was a child. They are swirling together every day as I try to figure out how to express them. Eventually, I pray that they will organize and develop into the plan God has for me.
If I were to break down my life, I would list God as the giant wall cloud. He is making the conditions perfect to create the storm in my life. He is taking all of my circumstances and experiences—good and bad—and swirling them together to make something good and powerful (Romans 8:28). He planned good things for me long ago (Ephesians 2:10), and He is working to make all of the conditions perfect to accomplish His plan.
A huge lowering of the wall cloud is my children. God has blessed me with these three amazing blessings that occupy my heart and my time. So much of my life is centered on raising them, pouring into them, growing them up in Christ. It is a daunting task, and I’ve come to realize that I don’t have a clue about how to direct them in the most important aspect of their lives—growing into God-honoring, God-loving, world-changers. It is not enough for me to raise responsible, healthy adults; I want my children to have a burning passion and desire to know God and make Him known! I want them to grow into all the fullness of Christ—just as I am trying to do myself. Since I’ve reached the conclusion that I don’t know how to do that, I am trusting God to do it through me. In my weakness, He is strong! Who better to parent my children than the perfect Heavenly Father who loves them far more than I do!
I have a number of scuds that are swirling around under this great wall cloud. As I look at my life, I see the passions that God has planted in me since childhood. I was called to full-time ministry as a young child, and I have always desired to serve God fully and completely with the gifts and passions He has placed in me. When I went through my divorce, I lost my ministry—pastor’s wife. I’ve grappled with how that passion would play out. God has been so gracious to give me a job as a nurse where I still get to minister to hurting people. It has filled the void created by losing my position, but He is stirring deep within me. For the last year, I have sensed that God is preparing a new work for me, a ministry created just for me that is borne out of the journey I have been on for the last few years.
The next scud that is swirling in my life is writing. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write. I wrote for my high school newspaper, was editor of the high school yearbook, and majored in journalism in college. My first real job was that of technical writer for a computer training company. I was praised for the clarity with which I could write a training manual. But, my heart has always been in ministry. I want my writing to bring glory to God, to draw others into a deeper relationship with Him. My desire has always been to write about what God is doing, about how to grow in our walks with Him. This blog has been a great outlet for me to share what I am learning, but there is a book percolating within me. I’ve begun the outline, and I believe now is the time for me to start this journey. It is daunting, and I am finding it difficult to get started. I have no idea how to go about writing a book and getting it published, but I trust that God will direct my steps. That is my goal for this summer.
While I was writing for the computer training company, I was also thrust into the role of stand-up trainer—which brings me to the next scud in my life. I never dreamed that I would have a passion for public speaking, but I have found that God gave me yet another gift in this area! When I have the opportunity to speak about Christ, I find the joy and passion just bubbling up and over-flowing in my life. I feel completely at peace and fulfilled—a peace and fulfillment that only God can give. During my years as a middle school teacher and computer trainer, I was given the opportunity to hone those speaking skills. I have always believed that God was going to take my early adult experiences and use them with my other passions, but the time has never been right.
As I try to figure out how to expand my finances (I AM a single mom), I have been praying that God would open doors. Recently, He provided a business opportunity for me. It has yet to take off the way I had hoped, and I find myself wanting to throw in the towel. However, there is a very strong sense that GOD opened the door. When God opens doors, you don’t throw in the towel! You pray that He will lead and direct your steps. I continue to pray that God will open the storerooms of heaven and pour out a blessing so great that there will not be room enough to receive it! I believe that with some extra financial help, it would be much easier to focus on the ministry that God is building within me. (It would also be nice to be able to buy a home and know that I have some money put back to help my children with their college education.) Ironically, this business opportunity has given me my next speaking opportunity next weekend. Perhaps this step is one that God has ordained?
Another scud in my life is the desire for a husband. I have recently reached a conclusion that God wants to get my ministry off the ground before He blesses me with that special relationship He has planned. I know myself well enough to know that I would forgo my own ministry for the sake of being an adequate helpmate to a husband. I still have unfinished hopes and dreams that were put on hold during my 17 year marriage so that my now ex-husband could pursue his goals. I don’t regret putting others first, but I have realized the importance of not losing myself in the process. I have found that I am a much better person when I take my needs, hopes, and dreams seriously.
Throughout the last months, I sense that all of these pieces of my life are beginning to swirl and come together into one massive storm. The speed of the rotation is growing with each passing day, and the intensity seems to be building. I am waiting for that cold wind—the Holy Spirit—to blow in and give me the signal that it is time, that the storm is perfectly organized.
When that happens—when all the conditions are perfectly in place—I pray that God makes it a massive, intense storm. I pray that the path I travel is littered with lives that have been changed, that the landscape is permanently altered because of what He does through me. I pray that others see my life and recognize His hand and that He gets the glory! I want to live an EF-5 life for Him!
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20