Stepping Out of the Storm

   …for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. (2 Peter 2:19)

I received a notification from the Department of Defense that there was a discrepancy involving my identification, health insurance, social security and/or name, followed by thinly veiled threats of fines relating to the so-called Obamacare taxes for non-compliance if I did not attend to the matter immediately. I felt broad-sided. I have always been who I am and have been with the same health insurance company for 30 years. It was now up to me to figure out where the discrepancy might be, and this involved phone calls, detangling, and proof of identification and marriage to satisfy a bureaucratic hiccough that might otherwise lead me into a corn maze of oblivion to which I might never recover (…or at least it felt that way).

We live in stressful times. Life is at 65 mph and timed to the minute. Now a fog had descended upon my little corner of the world, and as I methodically made phone calls to investigate what the problem was, I could feel my frustration grow, a deep burning wrath rise up and while I did maintain a semblance of cordiality to those I spoke to, I could not ignore what was happening inside of me. I felt as though I had overlaid a tissue on a bulging volcano that was ready to blow. Naturally, I prayed.

I first began to justify this intense inner turmoil by legitimizing it. “Here I am, minding my own business, and the inept bureaucratic agencies have me in a tail-spin to go back and really prove who I am blah…blah…blah…” …was what I was thinking, because I had long ago filled out forms and provided proof of identification, and nothing has changed on my end. I continued to pray for the Lord’s peace, while I legitimized the boiling wrath that was clearly raising my blood pressure, annoying me, and bringing me near to a feeling of inner rage.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Social Security Administration office….(How often do we hear those words?!) I began praying “Lord, the inner turmoil that I am feeling is beyond my control. I can feel my heart pounding, my face heating up, and a steady increase in anger that I would classify as wrath, and all of this is far beyond what the situation is calling for! How are we expected to behave calmly and in perfect peace, if our autonomic nervous system is in overdrive? My sympathetic nervous system has put me in that state of Fight or Flight, and protest as I might against my inner rage, I’m losing the battle. There HAS to be something more to this, than merely holding back the explosion! I cannot help what’s going on in my body, even if I do exercise some restraint.” It reminded me of the time the Lord showed me something about “PMS”, but that’s another story.

Then the Lord showed me that there are many spiritual influences in our world that we give permission to. When I first began to feel this anger rise, I legitimized it, and gave it license to act upon me by complaining about the situation. My complaining only strengthened it and my prayers for rescue were muffled by my complaining. I thought about how many people in this world who do not know the Lord are being driven by this inner anger and frustration and have no power to restrain it? Small wonder that the world is in the state that it is in. I confessed my sin of complaining and legitimizing this destructive force in my life, and prayed that the Lord cleanse me and deliver me from the power of this enemy. I prayed for His grace and proclaimed the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ over the situation. I also prayed the Lord meet me at the SSA office and resolve this situation. Immediately, the intensity of the physiological storm within me, subsided, and by the time I had reached the office, I was in perfect peace. Thirty minutes later, it was resolved.

Deborah J Claypool

Walking Alongside

Even the dog knew something was up. I had heard the helicopter for quite a while from inside the house and now as we went outside for our afternoon walk, we both looked up to see that it was flying back and forth right over our neighborhood. I wondered what was happening. Was it a traffic helicopter investigating a problem, a police helicopter searching for someone? I was mildly curious, but not particularly concerned. So the dog and I walked on.

About a mile into our walk, a car approached along the road and the woman driving lowered her window and said, “Be careful, a bear has been sighted in the neighborhood.” She then quickly raised her window and zoomed away. I stood completely still wondering, “What?” “WHAT!”

I had a million questions- what kind of bear? Were there woman eating bears in our area? Dog eating bears? What does “be careful” mean exactly? If I see the bear, do I stop drop and roll, make myself seem smaller or taller, stand completely still, or run screaming in the other direction? I imagined how the bear would look at my dog and me. Would he see me as a large chicken nugget holding a smaller, furrier chicken nugget by a string?

I know the woman who stopped her car was just trying to be helpful, but her pronouncement of danger followed by her hasty retreat really didn’t do me any favors. And I thought about how often we believers might be guilty of throwing information grenades at unbelievers and then zooming away.

Many Christians believe the days are short until Christ returns. We can sometimes drop statements into our everyday conversations alluding to that belief. We say things like,    “the end times are here,” the “signs are pointing to the second coming,” or “everyone better get their affairs in order.” I had one friend who used to say, “Get right or get left.”

All of this is said from a place of love and concern, just like that woman who thought she was helping in telling me about the bear. But unbelievers are left scratching their heads, not sure of what to do with the warning.

Knowing that Jesus’ return may be imminent isn’t the information lost people need. The days of scaring people into heaven are past. People who don’t know Jesus need us to tell them of His amazing love, his astounding forgiveness, his sacrificial death on their behalf and his longing to be in relationship with them. If we are going to pull up alongside people who don’t know Jesus and open our mouths, may those words be the truths we speak, the bombs of grace we drop onto their anxious hearts.

And once we speak those life giving truths, let’s not zoom away; let’s invest time in answering their questions and quieting their fears. Let’s walk alongside our younger brothers and sisters in Christ until we are all safely Home.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. ~Colossians 1:28

Cyndi Word