It happened yesterday. That dark cloud moved in, uninvited over my thoughts. Even though the sun was streaming through the windows of my house, inside my head, it was raining.
Thundering memories reverberated through my body. Lightening flashbacks suddenly illuminated my mind and I was transported to a few years ago when I walked through the most intense struggle of my life.
See, I wish I had a Wile E. Coyote testimony. One where I continuously ran off the cliff until one day, Jesus caught me, changed me, placed me on solid ground and I never ran toward the edge of the cliff again.
But I don’t.
I became a Christian at three years old and never wandered to far from my faith. However, God got my attention one year, the year of this struggle. He showed me that even though I’ve followed Him most of my life, I still have an ugly sin nature – the potential within me to commit crimes worthy of death row in the Christian community.
He showed me that it’s not by my natural good choices or by following certain formulas that He loves me and is proud of me. It’s because of His grace. He has given me new life, purpose and fulfillment that without Him I would never find.
During this year, I saw who I would be without Jesus -a workaholic, unfaithful wife, seeking satisfaction in turning heads and fulfilling the next project.
Thank God, He sent Jesus to save me!
I’ve learned now that I don’t have to earn God’s love and favor. I have it because I am His through Jesus. Although I want to do things for Him, now I can do them out of love, like I do things for my husband. I don’t have to try and get His attention and say, “Look Lord, over here…look what I’m doing now!”
You would think that once the Lord speaks to me like this and performs great signs and wonders, I would never struggle with old battles again. That the miracles of the past would be enough to have faith for today.
But, I am more like the Israelites than I like to admit. I too, quickly forget the Red Sea He parted in my life, the manna He alone provided and the fiery furnace I walked through, unscathed during that year.
In times like yesterday when my thoughts are heavy with dark clouds full of unwanted memories, I have to remind myself of the miracles God has done.
He kept our business afloat when creditors the size of Pharaoh’s army were closing in. He parted the waters and provided a way when there was no human way. He made money magically appear to buy groceries with. I don’t know what manna tasted like for Moses but for us it tasted like mac-n-cheese, pancakes and scrambled eggs from the chicken house. Cooked with love, it tasted like Heaven!
During the heated internal struggle I talk about in my book, it felt like the furnace had been intentionally heated seven times hotter, like Nebuchadnezzar ordered for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
As I look back on that year I too see the shadow of Someone walking through the fire with me. Jesus never left me. Every monster I faced, every fear I encountered, every bit of shame I unraveled, He was right there with me. He showed me what to do and I came out untouched by the flames.
Even though I don’t smell like smoke, the memory of that year haunts me and I fear the struggle will happen again. But Jesus tells me, He is my victory. With Him I overcome!
I don’t have to fear when the heat comes, because my roots are planted deep in His stream of living water.
When those dark clouds roll in, and my thoughts seek to blow me down, I am reminded of the miracles God has done and I can rest in His unchanging promises. Whatever struggles lie ahead, He will not leave me. I have nothing to fear, for it’s by His grace, not my effort!