Faith in the midst of the storm

By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist

Do you believe God allows storms in our lives? Do you believe Satan is an instigator of storms? Did you feel God’s presence and peace throughout Hurricane Florence? Answering ‘yes’ to each question reveals an awareness of personal storms that damage hearts and powerful storms that destroy possessions.

David, being a man after God’s own heart, surely felt storms would never happen to him. However, he was pounded while being prepared to wear the crown and guide God’s children. David made the choice to stay home when war raged and his men needed his leadership. He saw a woman on her housetop, looked, lusted, and got in trouble. She became pregnant and a storm began to brew. God got David’s attention through a storm He allowed because He loved David. God is no respecter of persons; He will send life changing storms to all His children in need of repentance and redirection.

Jonah ran from God and got in trouble when he was unwilling to obey God. Jonah had to swelter inside the belly of a whale because he was not willing to go to Ninevah and warn the people. God chose Jonah to be the messenger of gloom and doom to people indulging in sinful living and separation from God. Jonah feared his life was endangered going into enemy territory and felt right not obeying God. However, he was willing to go when God got his attention. Jonah came back to God because of storms he dealt with when he ran from God. God will do the same for you and me? Have you faced storms when repentance and redirection brought you closer to the Lord and loved ones?

God loves us so much that He can send storms to make us surrender. Surely, we experienced emotional surges as Hurricane Florence headed to our shore. Feelings of fear rose up inside my heart as I closed up my home and headed across town to ride out the storm with my son and his family. Stopping in front of my home, surveying my yard where I spent time securing personal items and praying, swells of emotions swayed like the waves of the sea. Knowing peace prevails when we trust in God, my fears subsided.

Knowing ‘things’ should never take precedence in our lives, thoughts of Lot losing his loved ones along with all his possessions humbled me to the point of tears as I drove away from my home sweet home. Anxiety melted away and faith mustered inside the heart God heals over and over and over again when I go through storms and get distracted or distanced from Him. When I get to heaven, I hope to give Lot a big hug and high five for his amazing faith through storms Satan sent in hopes of totally destroying his life and close friendship with God. With God’s lesson on faith, I slowly shifted to forward gear and my pickup truck went forth through the wind and rain with me singing and praying as over the road construction and through orange cones I did go.

As Cameron filled his generator with gas, I surrendered with a faith filling story of His love lifting me from the angry waves of fear. Our family joined other families who hunkered down in homes to go through the storm together with hope and faith prevailing in hearts all across eastern North Carolina. Witnessing the miracle of a category 4 storm slowing down to a Category 1 was a miracle from the Master who can calm the angry sea and take care of you and me! God was speaking to us through this storm just as He did to Jonah and Lot in seasons when He was allowing life changing storms to bring them closer to Him!

God knows how to take storms and do good things in our lives…if we allow Him. If we blame the Lord and withdraw from Him, we can lose a close relationship with Him and blessing of good to come in His perfect timing. God’s purpose is always for good in our lives if we allow it by going to Him in storms.

In closing, was Florence the ‘life changing storm’ predicted by forecasters who have covered storms for decades? Did we go through it praying and praising God for a miracle or fearfully tossed to and fro like the angry waves that crashed against our shore? Did we face our fears, repent of sinking in sin far from the peaceful shore, very deeply stained within sinking to rise no more. But the Master of the sea heard our despairing cries…from the waters lifted us, now safe are you and I?

Surely, Jonah embraced these words as He repented and stopped running from what God called him to do. Perhaps, Florence’s fury — calmed by Christ before slamming our shore – has changed lives and caused people to seek God with passion and purpose ‘for such a time as this’! Revival has been predicted to break out on the eastern shores of North Carolina and spread across our nation life wildfire! It can happen with hearts changed and Christ honored for all the world to see. Storms can serve as sparks to get a fire going that can bring repentance, redirection, and realization that God is in control and cares about all His children from sea to shining sea …and it can start in eastern North Carolina with you and me!

As I write this story on Sept. 14 in the dim light of dusk with my family huddled together on the couch at my son’s house, my heart hurts while we watch snapshots of Florence’s fury on national news. Wiping tears, we watch seven firemen (early responders to a home in Wilmington where a tree crashed through the roof killing a mother and her infant) huddled together on their knees praying for the family as two rescue workers roll the injured husband and father through their yard to the waiting ambulance.

My family shared a moment of prayerful grief for the man whose life was changed in the storm that still spins over us as I close this story. The picture of white responders on their knees praying for a black man whose family was snatched away in this historic storm seemed to be exactly what God would want to go viral and be shown over and over – again and again – all over the world as is the ugliness of hatred and prejudice portrayed so negatively on newscasts every day!

Typing the words white and black seem so wrong and is hard for me to do, for I believe there is more loving unity between races than there is loathing division. It had to be God’s stirring for me to humbly and prayerfully write those color barriers in this story. Surely, He can use this storm as a reminder for all races, denominations, political parties, or Pharisee minded people to repent and seek redirection that aligns with The Master’s Word and Jesus’ way with His Holy Spirit living inside peoples’ hearts on every planet under the sun! It is time we stand strong in love for all people and show that God’s way is right… for Jesus loves all HIs children – red and yellow, black and white…all of us are precious in His sight.

So, let us become color blind and bind our hearts in love, being sealed by His Holy Spirit…and then there will be more good news to share of people kneeling to pray (even in our schools – where we the people can pray and initiate change for what a woman did on one fateful day) when storms take other peoples’ sunshine away! Storms come and Christ can change things – bringing good from bad things spiraling out of control. Yet, we must take heed and make choices to love one another, foster our faith, and focus on our heavenly Father! Thank You Lord for looking after us through a life changing storm and miracle on a Friday in September when we have witnessed you calm the angry sea and bring people closer to Thee!

By Becky Spell Vann

Contributing columnist

Becky Spell Vann is the owner/operator of Tim’s Gift Love Ministry.

Becky Spell Vann is the owner/operator of Tim’s Gift Love Ministry.