Can I tell you a secret? Can you handle hearing something so shocking that you might just move to the other side of the street when you see me headed toward you? Are you sure? Well, all right then! Hold on to your seat because this might just rock your world.
More often than not, my meetings with God are huge chaotic messes.
They usually involve tent poles to the back of the head, or a tire blowout that shears off the side of my camper, or finding myself two miles down a deserted beach and needing to go … well, you get the picture.
There are usually tears and yelling and shaking fists. On my part. Not His. I am secretly convinced that He laughs at me. A lot.
I hear those beautiful stories from my friends of times when God met them on a mountaintop or beside a peaceful river or at their kitchen table. They speak of gentle whispers as well as feeling wrapped in His warm embrace while being covered in His mercy and grace. Their faces shine with the memory of that moment when they were 5 or 6 or 10, when they accepted the Lord as their Savior, thus beginning a lifetime of service to Him.
Yeah. Well, that’s not me. Not even close.
My life has been a series of unfortunate events, as the childhood book says. It usually involves me not listening, not paying attention, not taking the right path, not being the faithful servant. It’s me rushing headlong off the cliff without checking my safety belt, dancing in the rain only to have it turn into a hurricane, or cooking dinner for that family down the road only to have them kindly tell me that they are gluten-free vegans and thus can’t eat that lovely pork roast and macaroni-and-cheese casserole with homemade rolls.
While I knew who God was from the moment I could toddle behind my church-secretary mother, it took me 50 years to ask Him into my life while accepting Christ as my Savior. Because of my life choices, it has not been an easy change, in spite of my pleas to Him for a miracle that would involve wiping the memories of my family clean as well as unburning a lot of bridges.
Yet in His infinitely understanding and loving way—because He created me and knows every part of my heart—He always meets me in the middle of my mess to guide me, free from the strongholds that once again threaten to engulf me. In the wind and the rain that swirl around me, I always find His hand as it reaches out to steady me, bringing me safely through the storm. I am usually bruised and battered, but I am never alone.
When I have reached another breaking point, when my discouragement has once again eclipsed my joy, when the path under my feet has changed once again, I seek Him where I know Him best. I seek Him in the midst of the storm.
I have a favorite beach on the east coast. A wild, rock-strewn stretch of an island that few venture out to, especially when the sea boils and the wind howls. It is there that I go to stand on the stretch between cliff and water to shout out my fear, to sob out my heartache, to shake my fist at the heavens. I plead with Him. I beg Him to hear me out. My knees become raw from the sand underneath them as I humble myself before Him, seeking His wisdom, asking for direction.
Yesterday, with the rain stinging my face and the sea surging at my feet, the words of Psalm 46:1-3 came into my mind. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
And there, in the midst of a summer squall, on a windswept stretch of sand, I felt His love wrap itself around me, bringing comfort to my heart, giving me the courage to keep going forward as He reminded me that not all mission work is in far-off lands. Not all callings and gifts are to be used on strangers. Not every day will go as planned. And yes. He still loves me fiercely, without reserve, even in the middle of my chaotic, messy life.
These trips always revive me. My heart becomes calmer. My soul becomes fuller. My life finds balance again. What some see as a vacation-ruining weather event, I see as a place to find the peace that so often seems just out of reach. So you see, it’s okay if there aren’t choirs of angels singing beside the pure mountain stream as you sit quietly turning the pages of your Bible. It’s okay that you are 50 or 60 or 90 and you just found out that God loves you more than you ever imagined.
It’s okay that there are more messes in one day of your life than most people experience in a lifetime.
He wants to meet you right where you are.
I will leave you with this verse—a reminder that it’s okay to stand out in a storm to meet with Him.
1 Peter 5:10: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Where do you meet with God?