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Anchors in the Storm

Joshua Miller, Executive Pastor

In seasons like the one we are in now, I believe it is good to think about scripture that might help serve as an anchor for us; something that helps us keep in mind the truth of God's intentions for us. There are so many voices screaming for our attention and belief. This means we need to do the hard work of allowing the voice of God, through scripture, to speak louder than the other voices. For me, one of those anchor scriptures that rings loud and clear is Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

This scripture is often a reminder to me that I am on a journey. It reminds me that life is in constant movement and that every season counts, even the hard things. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that I am given an opportunity to move closer in the direction of Jesus. It is the beauty and struggle of discipleship.

The struggle is exactly what this scripture points out to me, that not only do I have confidence in enjoying the goodness of God after life is over, but I can enter in that joy now, even while I might go through troubling seasons. There are moments in life that really are troubling and it is necessary to acknowledge it as trouble. I do not believe that the Bible teaches to ignore or dismiss trouble or suffering, but to see it for the pain that it is and to invite God into that process.

The beauty is that even my hardest moments are going to be used to help me become more like Jesus who, as our earthly example of Godliness, went through his own suffering, trouble, pain and sorrow. This text always gives me faith to remember that I am being developed. It shows me that, like a child, I am being raised into becoming a more mature son of God, my Heavenly Father.

The word "perseverance" in this passage is what I am always drawn to. I even have it in my email signature. If you have ever received and email from me, you'll see this quote:
Perseverance is the hard work you do, after you get tired of doing the hard work you have already done .  -Newt Gingrich
Although I may not agree with all of Newt Gingrich's views, I do agree with this sentence he coined. Even as a child I was learning this lesson and it has become a foundational part of my life.

When I was about 10 years old my family was taking our annual trip to Universal Studios in Florida. While we were heading back home from our trip, we were in our van and driving toward a storm. As a 10 year old I remember being frightened by how dark, windy and rainy it had become. I noticed that people were pulling over and stopping on the side of the road. I then asked my step-dad why we were not pulling over like everyone else.  His reply to me has stuck with me all these years.  He said, "They will be stuck in that storm until it passes by, but if we drive slowly and carefully we can drive THROUGH the storm."

It is a fact that when it rains it does NOT rain everywhere. I have literally stood under a section of sky where it was raining, but was sunny and dry just a foot over. Perseverance to me is like driving through that storm. I am aware that there is a storm, I see it, I feel it, I can even smell it, but I keep moving forward.

Similar to the scripture in Romans, James shows us the same anchoring truth in the passage below. Realizing that through hardship we engage in a slow, consistent and intentional process that is meant to help us find joy, freedom, creativity and hope in this journey to become more like Jesus.

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)

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