AUGUST 8, 2014
Finding His Power in the Midst of Our Storms
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)
It was a dark and stormy night. Alone in my writing study, I pounded away on my laptop computer, while the air conditioner hummed in the background, holding the summer heat at bay.
A glance at the clock confirmed the late hour, with many pages yet to be written. After several extensions on my book deadline, the pressure was intense. Like having five college term papers due the same day.
On my calendar I'd circled July 22, the day my family and I would head to Pennsylvania for a reunion my sister had planned for two years. If it meant writing around the clock, I had to finish my manuscript before we left town.
All at once a deafening crack of thunder sounded overhead, and the lights blinked out. After saving my work on the laptop's hard drive, I located a candle and made the most of my waning battery.
Our power returned the next afternoon, but not for long. A second storm left our old farmhouse in the dark — this time for two days. My editor called to check on my progress. "Not good," I confessed. "We've lost power. Again."
Although my laptop was portable, my many bookshelves full of resources were not, which ruled out moving to a hotel room or a friend's kitchen table. When the electricity finally returned, I brushed away tears of relief and fired up my computer.
One week later, a third storm struck.
The blackout was so massive our city made the national news. Five powerless days dragged by. Meals were fast food, showers were cold, and tempers were short. After my husband tracked down an overpriced generator, I had electricity flowing into my laptop. What wasn't flowing were words or ideas, as my stress mounted.
When July 22 dawned, I still had two dozen chapters to go. Genuine panic set in. My siblings and I hadn't gathered in one place for nearly a decade. How could I miss my own family reunion? Yet how could I go, when my publishing contract required a completed manuscript — right away, if not sooner?
I didn't dare phone my editor and ask for more time. Heartsick, I called my sister instead and begged for mercy.
Guilt washed over me as I helped my family pack. My husband promised he would hug all my relatives, especially my understanding sister. But I still felt awful.
With a heavy heart I watched our car disappear down the driveway, then returned to my desk, determined to write nonstop. I'd paid a terrible price for this time, and I wasn't about to waste it.
My fingers flew over the keys. By nightfall, I'd almost completed another chapter. Then the unthinkable happened: the lights blinked out again.
"Nooo!" I shrieked, fumbling for my cell phone. With trembling hands I called the utility company, only to hear, "Could be an hour, ma'am. Could be tomorrow. Sorry."
I sank across my desk, tears flowing in earnest. Sorry? I was the sorry one. Sorry I hadn't started sooner and worked harder. Sorry I'd sent my family off without me. Sorry I'd once again put my work first.
I closed my eyes, afraid of the truth. Are You punishing me, Lord? I didn't really think He was; blackouts from summer thunderstorms are business as usual in Kentucky. But I still felt the weight of regret. Lord, can You help me? Please?
In the silence of my study, I was unprepared for the sudden whir of the air conditioner and the lights blinking back on.
Oh, Father. Thank You.
I could credit Louisville Gas & Electric for prompt service. But the truth is, the Lord alone fully restored my trust in His mighty power. Not only to meet my immediate need, but also to provide the forgiveness I needed even more.
Ten summers have come and gone since that night in my study, and another family reunion is around the corner. Am I facing another book deadline? I am. Will I miss that reunion? Not for one minute.
I have a long way to go, but this I know: we can depend on God's strength, instead of our own, and show His love best by putting others first.
Lord, You know I'm a slow learner. Thank You for Your patience, Your persistence and Your grace. Thank You for allowing me to learn things the hard way, so I'm more likely to remember them. And thank You for choosing provision over punishment. How You do love us, Lord! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 147:5, "Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit." (NIV)
1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (NIV)
Liz Curtis Higgs writes about a gal in Scripture who knew how to stand firm in a storm. Read The Girl's Still Got It for the story of Ruth.
Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles
Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you ever forgotten to call upon God's strength when yours was depleted? What were the results?
Consider posting a reminder, a Scripture verse or a simple drawing of a power cord where you'll see it daily, prompting you to call on God first when the next storm blows in.
© 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 08 August 2014.