We’ve had a couple days of stormy weather here in Kansas; and for any of you who know me, you know what that means. Sky pictures!! I just love looking at our beautiful skies here in the flat land, especially from my vantage point in our daughter’s former bedroom, up on our third floor. I have taken hundreds of pictures over the years from that same spot. These pictures show many various scenes of the same scene, if that makes sense. No two views of our sky are ever identical.
I’ve learned a lot over the years by watching our God-given sky. It’s no surprise that I’ve also written about it in the past. The Skies From My Window
We get some amazing storms here in Kansas. The variety of pictures is limitless. I love our sky here no matter the season or the weather, but I do have to say that the most stunning skies are the ones that present themselves during the storms. Just look at some of the shots I took during our storm from two nights ago.
From the beginning:
To the middle:
To near the end:
All were gorgeous in their own unique way.
I was thinking about yet another storm that roared through during the night last night. Bright lightning…ferocious winds…heavy rain – we got a hefty dose of all that. God pruned our trees during the night, for sure, as we awoke to lots of small branches all over the yard. And though I couldn’t take pictures in the dark, the vivid lightning is still fresh in my mind.
The storms outside our windows have often reminded me of the storms that also come into our lives. Whether the storms of life come in with a soft wind that builds over time…or if the storms blow in with a gusto that knocks us off our feet…we all face them, at one time or another, and another, and another.
And just like the majority of my most beautiful sky pictures are taken during the storms, so the majority of my most beautiful experiences with God happen during my storms of life.
In fact, James – when speaking about our trials of life – uses the word “various” to describe them. And guess what this word can also mean?
Just like my stormy, colorful Kansas sky, so my trials are described by God as being multi-colored. Here’s what James says:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter VARIOUS trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Storms, and trials, can be intimidating and even dangerous. But God uses James to tell us that we need to consider – to make a conscious judgment – about our multi-colored trials. And that conscious decision is to face our storms deciding to be joyful. This joy isn’t of our own nature, but is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives. And sometimes it takes awhile to feel that joy, that’s for sure.
And remember that joy isn’t happiness. Joy is a deep-in-my-heart contentment because I know and trust that the God Who brings the storm is the God Who brings it for a very good reason. I can look ahead to what He promises will come as a result of the storm, too.
Endurance. That means “abiding under difficulties.”
And endurance produces perfection, which is maturity.
And maturity makes me complete, which means “full development.”
These traits aren’t just academic notes on a piece of paper. They are real characteristics of a Christ follower who has endured the many difficulties and trials of this life on earth.
Just like the most vivid skies are stormy skies, my most vivid pictures of God’s character have been taken during the storms and trials of my life. I have learned the most about God during those rocky times that I have needed Him the most.
Sunny skies are nice, and pleasant, and restful, and needed.
But stormy skies are teaching skies for me…huge, magnificent photos of God’s mercy…God’s grace…God’s love…God’s protective arms around me.
So when the storms come, as they certainly will, may I not spend the time hiding and worrying and doubting.
May I clearly see the storms, not as an intrusion, but as instruction.
And may I spend the time taking picture after picture of the beauty that God is painting for me, using the palette that only He holds.