One early morning this past summer I had finished running and felt the Holy Spirit say to go for a walk in the woods. Last time I had walked this trail I had an encounter with a snake, so automatically my eyes are scanning the steps right in front of me. And I heard, "snakes shouldn't keep you from walking in the places you know you're supposed to be... didn't I warn you of the snake last time?" So I kept walking. The weather wasn't that threatening at first, just a light rain pitter-pattering on the lake as I hopped across on the man-made rock-steps. Suddenly, without warning, the rain started pouring... I kept walking but fastened my pace. When I got around the pond and started the treck up the steep, muddy hill the lightning and thunder began. Trying to remain calm and remember my love for rain, I held back the reigns on my running shoes till a loud thunder seemed to shake the ground beneath my feet and I took off running up that hill. The ground was muddy and uncertain, my clothes felt heavy with all the water it held, and the faster I ran the harder it became to see. My eyes burned as the little traces of mascara remaining from the day before crept into my already watering eyes.
The faster I ran the more I couldn't see till I finally just stopped.
Why was I running? What was I running from? Was the storm really so threatening that I felt the need to take off? Was I not already soaked to the bone and would any attempt to try and get less wet be successful at all? Not likely.
"Why do you run, when you cannot even see the steps before you, Child? Haven't you walked the storms with me before? You started so strong, peaceful and trusting of me to bring the next step before you... but now, when you are nearly home, you run for your life, trying to get ahead, as if I have not brought you back home before? As if I have not come through before? Stop your running, you can't see a thing I've put before you. I'm here in the storm with you. Slow down so you can see me..."
Oh how often I've found myself here. Running for my life through a season. Striving to get ahead, to get away from where I am currently so I can get to a place where I think I will be fulfilled, a place I think I will be satisfied...
Oh Child, no place, no season will fulfill and satisfy you... Your fulfillment is in a soul, not a season. It's in your Lord. The more you look for what you think you "need" in a place beyond where you are at, the more empty and hopeless you will feel. Your fulfillment is in the Lord, no matter the place, no matter the season, no matter the circumstances, no matter. It's in Him and Him alone.
But how quickly I will run from the heavy rains. How aimlessly I will run with passion but a broken heart towards the "successes" of this world, in hopes that it will mend the broken places and replace the empty, desolate areas of my heart and life. But when I stop-- slow my steps and my breath, taking in all that is before me, something beautiful happens.
That morning this past June when I just stopped and stood there in the, what seemed at first like chaotic rain, I found that it almost seemed as if the raindrops were dancing. They whipped and whirled about me, as if in a dance with thousands of little raindrops. The song Here Now (Madness) by Hillsong began to play in my mind. "Your ways are higher, Your thoughts are wilder, love came like madness, poured out in blood-washed romance...". Which brought my heart back to Isaiah 55 where God talks about His ways not being our ways.
Steps ahead are often unclear, especially amid the pains of life. So often we run as if trying to escape the rushing winds and stomping thunder... but perhaps it is there, in the middle of it all, that we find God waiting for us to see Him right in front of our faces. The rains spinning around us are praising Him with their movement and the thunders roar in song to the King and the lightning flashes to reveal its reverence for Creator, Father... and so often, we just run. Instead of praising Him in that place and recognizing it as an opportunity to worship Him too.
No, we don't understand His ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. But we do know this-- He is a good Father, deserving of all glory, honor, and praise. And though the next steps are not always obvious and life is whirling around us, we could learn a lot of lessons from the rains which continually praise Him. Let us stop our running from where God has us and join in worshipping our God in the midst of it all with the dancing storms.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”