The Benefits Of Storms, In Our Lives: STRUGGLES, TRIALS, OBSTACLES, REJECTION, MISERY, SUFFERING (Psalm 23)
The Benefits of STORMS in our lives:STRUGGLES, TRIALS, OBSTACLES, REJECTION, MISERY, SUFFERING! (Psalm 23)
Jonah 1: God uses a STORM, ( circumstances) to get Jonah to consider doing what He, God wanted him to do, in order to fulfill God’s will for his life! God hid Jonah in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights so that he could be all alone without any distractions or interruptions, to contemplate life and his decisions and choices…God, in a since, had a captive audience that finally was willing to listen and obey the voice of The Lord!
This story of the STORM in Jonah’s life, somewhat, reminds me of a STORM I once encountered way back in the mid 1970’s, if I am remembering correctly it was the summer of 1977. At the time, I was a youth pastor, children’s pastor, and had recently launched a concert ministry called, “Sonshine Concerts” and was working a full time summer job at Peterbilt motors, in Newark, CA. It was a whirlwind schedule with little time for anything but activities and work! Needless too say, I was neglecting my personal time with The Lord, and had replaced it with work and the work of the ministry! It should be quite obvious that staying busy, even if it is the work of The Lord, is not necessarily doing the will of The Lord! I believe, too many of us have substituted a true and real relationship with The Lord, with being busy for The Lord, even justifying our actions and behavior with the worn out excuse of “I just don’t have time to spend on my personal relationship, with The Lord, and besides, He’ll understand”. It is true that He does understand, but He doesn’t have to agree with you! If we don’t have the time to spend with The Lord in intimate personal fellowship, in developing a right and holy relationship,with Him, then we are too busy! It’s time to re-prioritize our life and schedule, making room and time for the manifest intimacy of a right relationship with The Lord, if not, then He might just do it for you! The Lord looks at the heart and if He sees that you have just gone haywire, but knows that you truly down deep want to do His Will, He loves you enough to make sure you will have an opportunity to do His will. He will utilize an event (STORM) situation or circumstance in order to get you alone so that He can convey His thoughts and will for your life, at that time, in order to get you on the right track and moving the right direction! This is what happened to me, with regards to being too busy, in the summer of 1977!
I was working in a grinding booth with two other young men. The booth was elevated five feet above the floor of the factory, with heavy plastic panels draped down all the way around it. The plastic panels were very dirty and covered with debris from all the material that was used to grind, as well as the wax that was used to help in keeping that which was being ground down, (metal steps, doors, brackets for the gas tanks, etc.) from getting too hot. My job was to work on a huge grinder with a very large sandpaper belt grinder. I usually did the steps and the brackets while the other two young men did the doors with smaller hand held grinders. There were times when we were inundated with work and then there were times when we would go for long stretches without any work, it was not ever steady work, and we were not allowed to leave the booth because at anytime there may be a piece that needed to be cleaned up and ground before it was needed back on the assembly line almost immediately. There was little toleration for stopping the line while they waited for a part from the grinding booth! So, to deal with the down time, my two young friends would devise games that they could play, while waiting for the next project to come into the booth. One of their favorites was “Home Run Derby” in the booth! They fashioned a bat from a piece of 2×4 and formed a ball out of the wax used to cool during the grinding process. It was during those times that I would go to a corner of the booth and stand on the edge looking out for any work that may be headed our way. Ok, so I was also the un-official lookout, as well! I don’t really know why on this particular occasion I had positioned myself where I did, but it was definitely not the safest place to be, as you’ll soon understand and realize why. First one to bat was the right handed batter. He struck out on three wax ball pitches. Next up was the left-hander. He did not strike out, but was hitting the wax ball all over the booth. I don’t know if his hands got sweaty or just tired, but he took an especially big swing and missed the wax ball completely, a swing and a miss! Just before he took that mighty swing, I had moved behind him to get a better vantage point to see if anyone was coming towards the booth. Someone was, so I turned to tell them and it was at that very moment that the bat came out of the lefty’s hands and smashed me, with full force of his mighty swing and a miss, directly on my mouth! “Whack!” I immediately was knocked out and fell backwards off of the platform on to the concrete floor five feet below! I was told later that my arms went down to my sides an I took a “Nestea ice tea plunge” into the concrete head first! The young men were stunned. They told me later, that when my head hit the floor it sounded like a watermelon splitting! What I experienced at that moment was the sense of falling back on to a huge cushion made of the softest down imaginable. I remember hearing the voice of the safety officer having a conversation with the company’s nurse. They were discussing my vitals. The safety officer was checking for a pulse and the nurse was checking my blood pressure . The safety officer said to the nurse, “I don’t have a pulse” the nurse said in response, “I only have one number for the blood pressure, it’s 20!” Then I heard, “we’re loosing him!” The very next thing I remember was being enveloped by overwhelming waves of joy and peace washing over me while completely surrounded and immersed in the most wonderful, incredibly beautiful light! It literally took my breath away, to the point of not being able to breathe. The light was so bright that it was difficult to see anything but the brilliance of the light surrounding me. It was then that my eyes began to focus and adjust to the light, that I was able to see my surroundings! I cannot describe adequately with words what I saw, but to say, that it was absolute serenity with the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen anywhere or anytime here in this existence! I was standing in the midst of a field that was covered with a myriad of different kinds of plants and trees, all exemplified by beauty and grace. I began to realize and ponder…”Wow, I can’t believe it, this is it, I’m really going to be in the presence of The Lord, I’m shocked, I thought I had so much more time with so much more to do and experience. I still hadn’t had any children, was still pretty much a newlywed, with so much in life to look forward to, not to mention all the ministry I was involved in and one day hoped to accomplish and do!” As I was pondering, I heard and felt, at the same time, a voice penetrating my mind, heart, and every part of my being. It was strong, reassuring, comforting, soothing and quite pleasant, all at the same time. I understood it to be the very voice of The Lord. He conveyed to me that I had become too busy to hear His voice and therefore, He needed to get me all alone, without any distraction or hindrances, so that He could speak to me and I would listen. Listen, I did! During this encounter, I was never at anytime afraid or apprehensive. The Lord indeed did speak to me about things that would happen in my life and what He intended for me to do, with regards to ministry. I didn’t remember a lot of it, as I believe was His intention, but He did show me many faces of those who would be impacted by Him, because of the ministry He had called me to do. It was quite overwhelming and extremely exilerating and exciting! I do well remember though, The Lord giving me the opportunity to choose whether or not to stay with Him or go back! He really does give us free will in letting us determine our destiny! I also remember asking The Lord what He would want me to do, stay or go back? Without even hearing His response, I felt a strong sense and urge that I was to do His will, which was to go back and finish the work I had been given to do! As soon as I concurred with His will for my life, I was seemingly hovering above a crowd of people that were all focused and looking intently at something on the floor in the midst of them. I moved towards them and peered through the crowd to see what they were all gazing and murmuring about. What I saw, was myself lying on the floor looking very peaceful and serene, maybe taking a little snooze while on the job. It was an unreal experience, to say the least. My two young co-workers were having a frantic conversation about what they should do, they were distraught and stricken with fear! Then, I heard the lefty say these words; “I don’t know what we should or can do, but I know what Don would do!” Then I heard righty say, “what’s that!” Lefty…”He’d pray right now!” Righty…”we don’t know how to pray!” Lefty…”yes we do, remember, Don said praying to God was just like talking to someone when you are having a conversation!” Righty…”yeah, that’s right, let’s pray!” Righty and Lefty…”dear Lord please help Don and don’t let him die, amen!” As they said amen, I opened my eyes and looked up and saw both Righty and Lefty with there eyes closed and tears running down their faces. The safety officer shouted, “I’ve got a pulse!” The nurse exclaimed, “his blood pressure is returning to normal!” I declared my thanks to everyone for their help and looked at Righty and Lefty and thanked them for their prayer of faith! They both had astonished and happy expressions upon their faces, as well as, much relief! I went for a ride to the hospital in an ambulance, was thoroughly checked out with a battery of tests, then pronounced completely fit and good to go, except for the busted lip and loose teeth in my mouth. My head, which hit a concrete floor, from a five foot free-fall backwards, didn’t have a scratch, knot, or contusion of any kind! Now that was a miracle in it self! I really did fall on to a cushion of incredibly soft heavenly goose down!
I went back to work the next day with fat lips and loose teeth, which I had to have crowns put on, eventually. Righty and Lefty were never the same, after that and were more open than ever to the things of The Lord! I was able to share my story on a number of occasions with great results of people being encouraged and responding to The Lord in positive ways. I also re-prioritized my life and focused more on my personal relationship with The Lord, with less activity and more of Him. Oh, and by the way, there were a lot less games played after that, with a lot more talks about life and God.
I, to this day, thank God for His grace and mercy shown to me so many times and in so many ways in my life! Like Jonah, The Lord placed me alone, in a corner, in life, whereby, I too could hear His voice, listen, then obey His will for my life, at that time. His love truly endures forever!
Please don’t get too busy and not take the time needed and absolutely necessary to build and be in right relationship with The Lord! Make room for Him, in your life and don’t limit Him and what He wants to do in and with your life! Desire, above all else, to do His will!(Ps. 40:8) And remember, if STORMS come into your life, they may be sent from The Lord for your benefit and that, because He loves you and wants to have a personal intimate relationship with you!
Finally this; with obedience comes blessings and benefits, with disobedience comes curses and consequences! I know, I’ve experienced them both! Blessings…
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