I can see it. It moves slowly from over the mountains, giving me plenty of time to prepare. Almost every afternoon for the past two weeks we have had rain. It is rare around here, in this semi-arid place. The storms follow a fairly predictable pattern; moving from west to east, north to south.
And I expect them. I appreciate the warning that the dark, gathering clouds provide. I know a storm is coming. I can't know how long it will last, or how fierce it will be, or how much rain will fall. But I know it is on its way.
And that is where our life is right now. I know that leaving the security of the military, searching for a new job and all the unknowns that accompany it, are slowly crossing towards me. I know that there is potential that we will be covered in a downpour caused by loss of health insurance, income and even direction.
But I am thankful for the warning that we have had. Many experience far worse life storms that occur without warning- veritable cloudbursts, hurricanes and tornadoes. We are aware a storm is coming, so we have had time to prepare. We can't ascertain the severity until we are in the middle, but we can plan for the worst and hope for the best.
However, I can also begin to acknowledge the blessing that storms bring. Here, we are always grateful for rain. The landscape immediately responds with bursts of green, the temperature cooler, the air calmer. You don't want the storms to pass you by here- the temporary inconvenience of torrential downpours, high winds, thunder and lightning leave behind too many gifts.
And the storms of life are similar. I can try to run away, hope that the ominous clouds will only threaten and not deliver. Or I can look forward to the benefits that they leave behind; stronger faith, new friends, a renewed sense of purpose.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the Rock." Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 (NIV)
This is my chance to see where my foundation is laid, to grow my faith and reap perseverance. This is my opportunity to put the rubber to the road, to see how strong my God can make me. To trust Him fully, because I can plan and prepare, but only the Lord can bring good out of that. He gives me these hard times to show me just how faithful He is, but also so that I can show my faith and give the glory to Him.
I know that there is a silver lining to these clouds, and it won't just be making it out alive on the other side. I don't know how long it will last, or how strong it will be, but I know when the leaves are dripping and the sky is clear that I will still be standing- by the grace of God, and only that. And that is how I want it to be.