Several weeks ago, I was huddled under the awning on our deck in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The rain was falling rapidly from the clouds, the thunder echoed through the mountains, and the lightening flashed brightly in the evening sky.  Directly across from our deck, there is a breathtakingly beautiful mountain stream.  Cascading down into the stream is a gorgeous waterfall.  Even in the midst of a fierce and somewhat frightening mountain thunderstorm, the beauty surrounding the area remains truly indescribable.

In life, there are many types of mountain-sized storms.  There are the physical ones that we can see and hear.  In these storms, we can readily seek shelter from the rain and wind.  Through the wisdom God has imparted to the men and women manning the weather stations, we often receive advance warning that a severe storm is approaching our area, giving us time to adequately prepare, which improves our safety in the midst of the storm.  Other times, we are not so fortunate.  Sometimes, there is not enough warning.

A close family friend once shared her experience as she and her family lived to tell the tale of the nightmarish storm named Hurricane Andrew that swept through Miami, Florida.  She told us how she and her family huddled in the bathtub, praying and hoping they would all survive the howling winds, the torrential rain, and the endless debris.  As their roof and the walls of their home were stripped away from the foundation, they wondered if they would survive.  As the storm moved on, it only left one thing behind: the bathtub.  Though everything they owned was either destroyed or blown away, they were alive.  Their family had been spared.  God had granted them safety in the storm.

Sometimes, even the knowledge that a storm is in the area cannot prepare us for the devastation that lies ahead.  A hurricane can be too fierce, a tornado can come upon us too suddenly, a tsunami can overtake us before we have time to evacuate…  Much like these physical storms, there are also emotional and mental storms that we must endure.  And much like the aforementioned physical storms, there is not always adequate warning with regard to when and where these storms will strike.

At the age of sixteen years old, I went into my closet to change clothes.  My dad and I were preparing to go see my mom who was in the hospital.  I felt a piercing pain in my side.  Within a few short hours, I was lying on an operating table, having been diagnosed with a perforated colon and peritonitis.  If the doctors had not operated immediately and if my parents had not prayed for my healing, I might not have lived through the night.

My parents were very concerned and prayed diligently that the Lord would spare my life.  I remember my words to them as I was about to be rolled into the operating room.  I told them that I loved them and that God would make sure everything was alright.  Even in the midst of this storm, I had assurance that God would make it right.  I knew that His promise in Romans 8:28 was true.

All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

As I sit here today, fourteen years later, I can still tell you with calm assurance that everything will be okay.  Since that time, I have weathered many more storms, some of which have been much more ferocious.  The night my mom had a heart attack was one of the most violent storms I have ever faced.  Each time I walk in our living room in our camper in the mountains, I am reminded of the horrors of that night.  For several years, I have questioned why God would take her at such a young age, and why He would allow it to happen there, at our beautiful place in the mountains.  How could something so tragic occur in such a magnificent and peaceful setting?

While I do not have all of the answers, I have come to realize that these questions are not important.  Instead, I am beginning to realize that instead of avoiding this place I used to love, I need to embrace it.  Rather than dwelling on one single night, I need to focus on the fifteen years that we have spent in the midst of these majestic mountain landscapes.  I need to be grateful for the memories that we have made there and enjoy making new memories each and every day that God allows us to be in the midst of His awe-inspiring Creation.

Why?  Because even through my uncertainty, even through the storm that swept through my life nearly four years ago, and even through my emotional ups and downs relating to this place I find both peaceful and unsettling, God knows me and loves me without fail.  In every moment I feel ill at ease there, He loves me.  In every moment that I question Him, He loves me.  In every moment I just need to feel loved, He loves me.

Friend, I want to encourage you and remind you that God loves you, too, with an absolute love that has no end.  God will take everything that has happened in your life and use it for your good.  You may not understand it yet.  Perhaps you are still spinning around in a tornado of emotions, or maybe you are inundated by a flood of sorrowful tears.  No matter what storm you are facing, God is standing with you.  He will ensure that you make it safely to the sunshine once more, where you will be able to enjoy the beauty surrounding you.  Though the thunder may roll, the lightening may flash, and the rain may fall, God will be your Shelter from the storm.

In Christ's Love,