Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Preparing for the storm - Part 3

When preparing for a voyage one of the crucial factors is having the right crew. My dad was so blessed to have myself, my sister and my mum as his crew. During our sailing days when the storm hit, we were right there - down in the cabin keeping warm and dry, while he was out in the cockpit getting covered in salt spray and buffeted by the wind, doing his best to sail the boat through the storm. Yes, we were a very committed and supportive crew. Not! Ideally at least one of us should have been in the cockpit with dad helping him sail the boat in the 40 knot winds.

In life too, we were not designed to ride out the storms by ourselves. For me when the storms come, I have a tendency to want to hide from people, just wanting to get on with my life with minimal interaction, hoping everything will go away. The effort to connect with others drains my emotional energy. However I know that for other people, like my husband, in the storm, they need to connect with people. It's probably the internal vs external processor way of coping. 

In our journey with Victoria, these differences in coping became very evident within hours of her diagnosis. Thankfully a social worker explained this to us and emphasised the importance of respecting the way each other will process through this storm.

That's a bit of a long introduction, but the key learning for me about this has been, that regardless of the sort of processor we are, in the storm, we all need other people. People who will love us, despite the out-workings of our stress. People who will pray for us. People who will fill the gaps emotionally and practically when we are unable to.

So we have choice number four in preparing for the storms -  will I connect with another human being today?

To position us well for both the storms of life we will encounter, and to support others as they go through their storms, we need to connect with other people. We were made to be with others. And not just be with them, but actually connect in a meaningful way, giving them your time and attention.

Jesus simply says,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34 NKJV
At the weekend we were at the sporting ground and I had moved to the other end of the field to take some photos. This was the area in which the opposing team's supporters were sitting. I was intent on watching the game and getting some good shots. Ken came down to join me and he struck up a conversation with a parent from the opposing team, as Ken does!

It soon became evident that they were in a storm with some similarities to our journey with Victoria. Ken was fully engaged. I was only half listening in, still trying to get those photos! The more sort-of listened, the more I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit saying, pray for the child, now. So with God's courage I asked if it would be okay if I prayed for the child right there on the sidelines of the field. The response was yes. It was a precious moment.

There is much to be learned from this experience ...
1. Everyone has a story, a need.
2.Be Brave and connect - this parent could have stayed at home with her unwell child, but she didn't. Ken didn't have to strike up a conversation, but he did. She didn't have to tell us her story, but she did.
3. Obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit - believe in faith that He has a plan and is working in the unseen.

We need each other. Sometimes we are the ones that need support. Sometimes we are the ones to do the supporting. So many times I have had the image in my mind of Moses having his arms held up by Aaron and Hur.

And Moses said to Joshua, Choose us out men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. 

So Joshua did as Moses said and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the hilltop. When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and when he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.

But Moses' hands were heavy and grew weary. So [the other men] took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

And Joshua mowed down and disabled Amalek and his people with the sword. Exodus 17:9-13 AMP

In my life, sometimes I have needed my arms held up, and I give thanks to God for bringing the people to do exactly that, in prayer but also in many other ways. Sometimes it has been me holding up the arms of others, what a privilege and blessing to do so.

Praise God for His wisdom of creating a concept called relationship - connecting with love, grace and forgiveness. He knows we cannot do this life alone, and we certainly can't make it through the storms and emerge stronger without God and other people. We need to connect with Him and others. 

We need people, and people need us. Every day is preparation for the future, so lets not prepare alone. Today, let's choose to connect in some way with someone and learn more about loving one another well, just as Jesus loves us.

"Let me give you a new command. Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognise that you are my disciples - when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 The Message

My last three posts have looked at some ways we can prepare for the storms that will come our way, by considering the choices that we make today:
1. How am I walking with Jesus today?
2. Did I read my Bible today?
3. Will I choose to sing God's praises today, regardless of what is happening?
4. Will I connect with another human being today on a deeper level?

As I said in Preparing for the storm part 1, making good choices in these areas enables us to:

1. More quickly recognise the oncoming storms in our life
2. Understand that we are not alone
3. Have the courage to make a good choice
4. Hang in there until the circumstance has passed.

So lets ask God to help us make good choices today.

Jesus, please help us today with the choices that we make. Help us to make the choice to include you in every aspect of this day, talking and listening to you. Put a greater desire in our hearts to be with you and read your word and meditate on your truth. Please help us to come to the place where we can honestly sing your praises, regardless of what is happening around us, knowing that you are faithful and trustworthy, always. Thank you for the people that you bring into our lives, help us to connect at a deeper level with them, and both giving and receiving love. Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love for us and your grace and mercy that enables us to get through each day. In your name we pray, Amen.

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