I love Peter's experience of walking on the roaring sea with Jesus. But the thing is, Peter's story is often misunderstood. Do you have a step you need to take?
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We will be wrapping-up our February “Love More” series with a two-part conversation about God’s presence during our storms. Let’s face it, hasn’t everyone on the face of the earth asked, “Where is our loving God when terrible things happen?” Yes – it’s the question with a zillion answers. I found the best answer in Zephaniah. So get your Bible out and let’s dig in.
In life, I never willingly welcome storms.
Yet, the rain has no boundaries. You and I are not exempt from getting drenched. Better get an umbrella because it’s about to get a little wet up in here.
How do you stand-up to the storms that invade your life? As I’ve shared moments from my quest to overcome disabilities, challenges of ministry and the hurricane of juggling family life, you my friends have shared how God has worked through the tear-filled rain boots worn in your lives. But do we have to wait until after the storm ends to feel the love of God?
In-between the flashes of lightning, can you see His face?
As the thunder trembles your knees to the ground, can you feel Him holding you?
Honestly, I haven’t handled storms in my life living up to the Joshua 1:9 motto “Be strong and courageous!” I’ll be the first to admit, I blamed God continuously and tirelessly for the pain I believed He brought into my life. He had the power to stop time and change the course of history. The way I saw God during most of my storms ruined an amazing closeness God desired to have with me – His child. As I have been allowing Him to teach me how to brace for the uncertainty life brings, I found a passage that just summarizes everything I have been learning so perfectly (of course, in only the way God can!).
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)
If you are looking for a warm book to read during a rainy afternoon, ignore the passage above – Zephaniah is not your book. Seriously. This prophet was hand-picked by God to – don’t get excited – share the news of the destruction of His chosen people. (That may force you to look at your job a bit differently). If you find yourself up for reading the very short, dismal first two chapters, you will discover the wrath God promises to unleash. Here is an enlightening preview:
“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” says the LORD. “I will sweep away people and animals alike. I will sweep away the birds of the sky and the fish in the sea. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, and I will wipe humanity from the face of the earth,” says the LORD. “I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear. (Zephaniah 1:2-4 NLT)
Can you imagine hearing Zephaniah sharing this weather forecast about your hometown, your family and your very life? How would you react? To me, this seems like God is digging-up the files He used for Noah:
Wait, God, You can’t be serious right now. There is no plan B? A safe place to run for those who love You? Where is the rainbow we are looking for here in Zephaniah?
But wait, finally in chapter 3, hope emerges. To those who are humble, they are given an amazing promise from Abba.
Even as the dark clouds appear, and the air thickens, He still identifies Himself as “your” God. You are still His child. He still sees your heart and you can still hear His heartbeat. This relationship can and will grow during this storm.
Past the time of traveling tabernacles and even in the current age of His temple, Zephaniah heard God tell him to share that His presence was “among” the people. In the middle of a wicked nation, filled with hearts that had hardened towards Him, God is still present. He sees those looking for Him. Even in your storm, when you feel incredibly alone, abandoned and left to cry in the dark – He is living IN you (through the Holy Spirit). If our God can live among His people and diligently comfort those who seek Him, my friend, He can see you right now. He is among us and in us. No matter how tragic the storm may rage He has already won the battle.
God is indeed a mighty Savior, yet often our way of Him saving isn’t exactly what He had in mind. For a moment, put yourself back in time, surrounded by friends and neighbors as you read these words Zephaniah shares. Jesus is not a reality in this context (we are in the Old Testament and Jesus is not introduced until the New Testament). What in the world does God mean when He promises to be a savior to those in Zephaniah’s day? It involved a Babylonian captivity that would claim the lives of many and force countless others away from their homeland into a life under a new rule. Did God save His people from being carried off helplessly to captivity? No. Did He save the lives of those who looked down the sword of the Babylonian army? No. Did He send in Jesus at this time? No. How then is God a savior?
He was present. Remember that friends – God never turned His back on His children. He was present, working and moving right there in the storm.
He delivered His people back home in His perfect, gracious redemptive timing. Granted, this homecoming was not immediate, but God kept His promise. For those exiled into captivity, the promise of returning home can bring you the hope you need to make it through the day. He will bring you Home too and that promise keeps us going even today.
More to come next week!
Dare to do more than just survive, step out and thrive!
Which seems the hardest for you to believe in the midst of a storm: God’s continual presence or God’s saving power?
Hello and welcome to Step Out And Thrive Ministries! My name is Bethany Boring and I am proud to be called a child of God before any other title or role. I am a wife to Steve and a mom to 3 amazing boys. I enjoy writing for this Step Out And Thrive community and walking with you as we venture through the ups and downs of life together. I am an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor, Certified Human Behavioral Consultant (DISC Personality) and an author. As always - dare to do more than just survive, step out and thrive!