Powerful God

Note: I am reposting below a blog entry I did a while back because it’s been on my mind with yesterday being April 19th. I always remember this date because of what happened in 1995, but also because in 2002, on April 19th, my mom and step-dad were in a terrible highway accident. A lady pulled through the median into them in traffic. They were pinned in the car until they could be cut out, and my step-dad was airlifted to a Memphis hospital with a fractured neck and spent 8 weeks with a metal halo drilled in his head! So each year, I have many reasons to praise God for His protection and care for us in these things!

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April 19, 1995. I remember the date clearly because it was the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. I was working as a legal assistant in Dallas for a small law firm. I was driving over to Tyler, Texas to pick up the record on appeal for a case on which we were working.

There was supposed to be bad weather, so the one attorney suggested I not go. The others didn’t think it would be bad, so I went ahead. As I entered the highway, my car slid out of control because of the wet ground. Thankfully, I didn’t hit anything, but it made me a little nervous about the travel ahead. The radio was, of course, on, and a song by Twila Paris was playing, “God is in Control.” “God is in control, we believe that His people will not be forsaken, God is in control, we will choose to remember and never be shaken, there is no power above or beside Him, we know, God is in control.”

The song gave me comfort and I chose to believe that He was in control of my travel that day. I went on, and as I did, it turned into the most beautiful and sunny day! Well, this wasn’t bad at all, I thought. But as I drove, after I would pass a town, a short time later, the radio announcer would say, “The tornado is now in X.” And X was whatever town I had just passed. But I wasn’t worried because it was so sunny and pretty now. Surely those towns were pretty big, and so the likelihood I would encounter anything on the way back seemed remote to me, I reasoned.

I ran into the Court of Appeals and got the record. As I started to head back to Dallas, I thought again about the storm, but went ahead. As I drove, it didn’t really occur to me that there were no other cars on the road; the highway was empty. But they obviously had heeded the warnings. I have never before encountered what I did that day. It literally went from blue and sunny to black, heavy rain, hail, and a total inability to see — literally, it seemed in one second flat. There was no transition from light to heavy rain — it just went light to dark in an instant, and I had zero visibility for the darkness, the torrential rain, and the softball size hail hitting the car!

I didn’t know what to do. The last thing I had seen was that there was an exit ramp just shortly ahead, but I couldn’t even see to drive. I inched along. Suddenly all the glass started breaking on the car, the back window blew in, I was covered in glass, rain and hail, and the car was flooding. I did the only thing I knew to do. I was screaming to God to help me. All I know is that my panic turned to peace as soon as I heard a song coming in from the radio. Yes, once again, Twila Paris, “God is in Control.” “God is in control, we believe that His people will not be forsaken. God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken. There is no power above or beside Him, we know. God is in control.”

I clung to those words. There is no power above Him. He was right there with me. I remember the rain moving on enough that I could see to exit, and oddly, I still remember driving my car in a complete circle, so shaken, so unsure where to turn, which direction, that I literally held the wheel and kept going around in a circle. I saw a driveway and entered. It was a local country club. I went inside, and they were shocked that I had been caught out in that storm. They all testified, “We’ve never seen anything like it. We can’t believe you were caught in it!”

I was drenched and upset. They then said, “You need to get under the pool table with the others because it’s not over. The tornado hasn’t passed yet.” I decided not to do so as I couldn’t expect anymore could possibly happen. The men, who earlier had been out golfing, stood by the back windows and watched the tornado pass.

A nice lady followed me back to Dallas in my demolished car. It took several years for me not to shake all over when a storm would come up. I remember getting back to Dallas and hearing about the Oklahoma City bombing that day. I trust God was near to those and revealing Himself to them in their time of need, accomplishing His purposes in the midst of great tragedy.

Praise You, Lord, that You are the Sovereign Lord who controls all things and is all powerful. Thank You for Your protection in the midst of life’s storms and for making Your presence known when fear was threatening me. You are so worthy of all our trust!

Be Dressed in Readiness

A couple of blogs back, I wrote about being caught in a Texas hailstorm back in 1995. I shared about how a song on the radio was comforting to me in that moment as the car was being crushed and I was afraid. I felt like the Lord was speaking to me in my moment of fear and panic through the song: “God is in control…. there is no power above or beside Him, we know….”

I always felt like God so clearly spoke to me that day in a way that I had never experienced before. (By the way, for those who read my blog and know how God uses music in my life, this was the first time — and the only time for many years — I had ever felt like God spoke to me in a song!) But there was also a part of me deep down that questioned that — was it just a “coincidence”? Does God really speak that way? Somehow in my growing up years, either I had missed it or it wasn’t talked about that God does speak to us. I tended to be very skeptical of anything like this. So I don’t think I shared it with anyone — but somewhere deep inside me, I knew it was the Lord that day comforting me through that song.

Fast forward to the summer of 2004. I was doing my first Beth Moore Bible study with some friends. It was called Jesus, the One and Only, and was a study on the book of Luke. To my surprise, I had been thoroughly enjoying this study and loving Beth Moore! I had heard about her for quite some time and been reluctant to do a Bible study that everyone else was doing — what is that rebellion in me all about?! I had all kinds of pre-conceived, yet so misguided, notions!

Anyway, each day had been showing me something new — isn’t that amazing about God’s Word — it does that. And He has given Beth Moore a gift of insights that seem to apply to anyone at any time, no matter the situation.

So it was late one evening and I was not in the mood to do my Bible study. This was a time in my life when I was still addicted to TV in the evening after I got my kids down. I would watch one show to the next, frittering my life away, not doing anything meaningful. I reasoned that I really didn’t need to do my Bible study that day… I had already learned so much the 2 prior days, how could there be anything else God had to show me?! Yes, I know, the arrogance I had is staggering!

So I started into another typical evening, Law & Order, followed by the news and on into Oprah was the plan… just mind-numbing activity. Well, when the news came on, my family was all in bed asleep already, and suddenly, a violent storm came up out of nowhere. The lights flashed and the TV blinked and the storm came. Given my fear of storms that still lingered now, I jumped up and debated, “Do I wake up the kids and bring them into the hallway for safety?” I rushed to wake up my husband who kept on sleeping after urging me that everyone was fine.

I then quickly decided I must be prepared, so I ran and put on my pajamas, lit a bunch of candles in case we lost power, and got everything ready for the worst. I then decided maybe it wasn’t such a bad time to do Bible study. I sat down at the kitchen table with my Bible, study book, candles lit all around, and me in my pajamas, ready for anything!

I could not believe it when I opened the study to that day’s lesson. It was titled “Keep Your Lamps Burning.” The verse was taken from Luke 12:35-36: “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.”

Do you see the picture? Be dressed in readiness with your candles burning basically. And there I sat, now dressed in readiness with my candles lit, a literal example of what my spiritual life should look like.

God showed me He can and does have other things to show me in His Word. It made me wonder whether watching TV each night was the best way for me to be spiritually prepared and ready for His return. I am to be a faithful servant, awaiting my Master’s return.

Well, needless to say, this was the second time in my life where I felt like God had just used some circumstances to speak to me. It’s interesting that both times were in the midst of real life thunderstorms. But He does that, doesn’t He? He enters into the “storms” of our lives to show us Himself and give us hope, to teach us and use those hardships to help us know Him.

I praise Him for that, that He is a personal God, so ready to speak, willing to use any of life’s circumstances to reveal Himself to us. I didn’t even ask Him to in these instances, but He graciously opened my eyes to Himself. I praise Him for that. I don’t think I’d ever asked Him before that time to reveal things to me, but I’ve found He does when I ask. I praise Him for that, too.

Praise You, Lord, for using the storms of life to reveal Yourself to us. I want to be Your servant, dressed in readiness, with my candles burning, expectant, responsive, alert, faithful, sensible, obedient, serving you as I await Your return. Not for me, but for You. Help me to go forward in Your strength and by Your power, to hear Your voice and see with Your eyes, and to obey You as I live in these days and wait for the certain hope of Your return. Praise You, Lord!

Powerful God

April 19, 1995. I remember the date clearly because it was the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. I was working as a legal assistant in Dallas for a small law firm. They asked me to drive to Tyler, Texas, to pick up the record on appeal for a case on which we were working.

There was supposed to be bad weather, so one attorney suggested I not go. The others didn’t think it would be bad, so I went ahead. As I entered the highway, my car slid out of control because of the wet ground. Thankfully, I didn’t hit anything, but it made me a little nervous about the travel ahead. The radio was, of course, on, and a song by Twila Paris was playing, “God is in Control.” “God is in control, we believe that His people will not be forsaken, God is in control, we will choose to remember and never be shaken, there is no power above or beside Him, we know, God is in control.”

The song gave me comfort, and I chose to believe that He was in control of my travel that day. I went on, and as I did, it turned into the most beautiful and sunny day! Well, this wasn’t bad at all, I thought. But as I drove, after I would pass a town, a short time later, the radio announcer would say, “The tornado is now in X.” And X was whatever town I had just passed. But I wasn’t worried because it was so sunny and pretty now. Surely those towns were pretty big, and so the likelihood I would encounter anything on the way back seemed remote to me, I reasoned.

I ran into the Court of Appeals and got the record. As I started to head back to Dallas, I thought again about the storm, but went ahead. As I drove, it didn’t really occur to me that there were no other cars on the road; the highway was empty. But they obviously had heeded the warnings. I have never before encountered what I did that day. It literally went from blue and sunny to black, heavy rain, hail, and a total inability to see—literally in an instant. There was no transition from light to heavy rain—it just went from light to dark, and I had zero visibility for the darkness, the torrential rain, and the softball size hail hitting the car!

I didn’t know what to do. The last thing I had seen was that there was an exit ramp just shortly ahead, but I couldn’t even see to drive. I inched along. Suddenly all the glass started breaking on the car, the back window blew in, I was covered in glass, rain and hail, and the car was flooding. I did the only thing I knew to do. I was screaming to God to help me. All I know is that my panic turned to peace as soon as I heard a song coming in from the radio. Yes, once again, Twila Paris, “God is in Control.” “God is in control, we believe that His people will not be forsaken. God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken. There is no power above or beside Him, we know. God is in control.”

I clung to those words. There is no power above Him. He was right there with me. I remember the rain moving on enough that I could see to exit, and oddly, I still remember driving my car in a complete circle, so shaken, so unsure where to turn, which direction, that I literally held the wheel and kept going around in a circle. I finally saw a driveway and entered. It was a local country club. I went inside, and they were shocked that I had been caught out in that storm. They all testified, “We’ve never seen anything like it. We can’t believe you were caught in it!”

They then said, “You need to get under the pool table with the others because it’s not over. The tornado hasn’t passed yet.” I decided not to do so as I couldn’t expect anymore could possibly happen. The men, who earlier had been out golfing, stood by the back windows and watched the tornado pass.

A nice lady followed me back to Dallas in my demolished car. It took several years for me not to shake all over when a storm would come up. I remember getting back to Dallas and hearing about the Oklahoma City bombing that day. I trust God was near to those and revealing Himself to them in their time of need, accomplishing His purposes in the midst of great tragedy.

I was reminded of my “hailstorm” story tonight because we’ve had a hard night. And I needed to remember God’s power. This story came to mind, and I shared it with my children. In our deepest need, He is enough. The truth of who God is and His gospel message goes deeper than we can begin to imagine, said our new pastor this past Sunday on his first Sunday. “An atheist is in all of us,” he surmised. We don’t believe all that God is and can do.

This is the God who gave comfort to Corrie Ten Boom in her years in a Nazi concentration camp, who spoke closely to her, spared her life, and used her to tell His gospel message to the world. I’m so enjoying her book Tramp for the Lord right now. He was with her in the midst of great suffering. He is real and He is truly all we need. I pray we’ll know Him and His power, His mighty power to save, His mighty power to deliver at the very deepest core of our being.

Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

I will praise You in this storm!

Psalm 63:3 “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.”

It’s been raining in Chicagoland for a couple of days now, mostly heavy and nonstop. Yesterday was the greatest amount of rainfall for a single day since they started keeping records back in 1871. Cars have been submerged in some places, basements have flooded, people have had to be rescued. I realize this is nothing compared to Ike and the devastation there; this is for the most part an inconvenience, but I have never seen it rain like this. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in a rainy part of the world with rainy seasons.

My husband and I have spent the last 2 days cleaning out the cellar of our home built in 1887. We were told in March when we moved in that it had never flooded. Not so this time, but the water was pretty minimal and able to be removed with a small pump. It did, however, cause all of our boxes to get wet, so we have now gone through all the remaining boxes from our move and either thrown it out, given it away, or stored it in plastic containers. This is a project I’d been intending to get to for 6 months, so maybe this was a blessing in disguise.

We’ve also found a small leak on the porch, and for some reason, our door to the house stopped closing. I guess when it rains, it pours! In the midst of the storm, though, I’ve found a lost journal that I had been intently praying I would find (of letters I wrote my daughter when she was in the NICU for 3 months after birth). I’ve been able to finally clean that cellar. And it happened on a weekend, so my husband and I could be home and handle this. We also found lots of toys and books the kids had been missing, and they’ve had fun playing the last couple of days while we worked. There are many things to thank and praise the Lord for in the midst of this storm.

I know it’s such a small thing, really, and such a small illustration, but when life seems a bit drab and dreary, the sun isn’t shining, there’s uncertainty around me about what’s going to happen, do I really find my refuge and confidence in the Lord? As I read Psalm 63:3 this morning (“Because Your lovingkindness if better than life, my lips shall praise You.”), I wondered, do I really believe this? Do I really think God’s lovingkindness is better than my very life? In the midst of a “storm,” can I fix my eyes on Him and have great joy because He is better than all else, even when I feel insecure and uncertain?

It’s these little imperfections of life that increase the longing for the perfect, for the eternal place where all will be right. I pray God will increase my faith so that when my feelings are inconsistent with my head and heart and I feel unsteady, I will still believe Him.

This week, we have visitors staying with us from South Korea, I start a small group women’s Bible study in our home, and I have a busy week at work. There is too much for me to lose sight of the big picture by life’s disruptions from this storm. So I choose today to praise You again, Lord. I praise You that You are here with me and that You do not forsake those who trust in You. I do praise You in this storm and praise You for Your lovingkindness toward me. I know that You are enough and all I need, so I may say with the psalmist, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.”