When my friend Anita and I ventured to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2009
to attend a Beth Moore conference,
we had no idea how life-changing this weekend would be for both of us.
We've both been through some pretty big storms in life.
We've both clung to God when the strength to hold on was the only strength we had left.
We've both wondered, "Why?"
We've both come up short with answers.
So, as we sat in the audience and the lights lowered and a video began to play showing a clip from the trailer of the movie,
"A Perfect Storm,"
we were curious.
Was Beth Moore promoting a movie?
Why were watching a scene of a ship tossed around at sea?
This just didn't feel like the beginning of a regular Beth Moore conference.
And it wasn't.
This conference was link none other I had ever attended.
Anytime I get to attend a Beth Moore event, my life is changed.
But this Pittsburgh weekend may have been the most significant event in my grief journey.
I had been a smaller event of Beth's, a minister's wives' retreat just a few months before and Beth had actually prayed over me and told me that she prophesied that one day "I would be whole."
I shared about that memory in a couple of posts in the spring of 2009.
You can read them by clicking HERE and HERE.
But I had no idea that just months later,
I would once again have the unexpected opportunity to sit and learn from Beth again and in her message I would receive words that have not only strengthened me and changed me but also given me words to share with others who face terrible storms in life.
I was reminded of this message this morning as my Bible reading was from the very same part of the Bible from which Beth spoke in the summer of 2009.
In Acts 27, Paul and other prisoners are being taken from city to another to appeal to Caesar.
On the way, a storm overtakes their ship and the 276 men on board are certain this is the end.
Paul receives a visit from an angel who promises that they will all survive and he shares these words with the terrified sailors.
There's powerful lessons throughout the time the ship is tossed at sea, and I'll share those lessons on another day;
but for today, I want to share what happens after the ship is destroyed as it runs into the rocks near the coast of an unknown island.
First, everyone survives just as Paul promised.
Then the men all make it safely to land either by swimming or being pulled in on pieces of the capsized ship.
But what happens next is my most favorite part of the shipwreck story.
Paul finds himself immediately in the midst of island natives and begins helping them gather wood for a fire.
Beth talked about the fact that after we survive a perfect storm we often find ourselves doing very mundane, everyday kind-of tasks very quickly.
She shared about how it is important to keep on keeping on even when we feel that what we have survived was enough to make us stop doing everything out of exhaustion.
Picking up sticks.
I wonder if Paul thought to himself, "I have nearly died. I have been visited by an angel of the Lord. I have kept 275 men calm, and now I am picking up sticks???? REALLY???"
That's the first lesson that hit me between the eyes.
Life isn't about big, glamorous victory stories.
Life isn't about fame and glory.
Life is about picking up sticks.
Keeping the fire going wherever we find ourselves.
Doing what needs to be done next.....over and over again.
That's what we do after we have survived a perfect storm.
The second lesson is incredible.
As Paul is doing what needs to be done,
a poisonous snake leaps from the fire and grabs hold of his arm, biting him.
The island people are certain that he is a wicked man and that because he somehow survived the shipwreck he is now going to be killed by the snake.
But Paul shakes the snake from his arm and shows no signs of being affected by the poison that has entered his body.
The island people immediately think he is a god because of his ability to survive this moment.
Beth makes this statement about that part of the story:
"After you have survived the perfect storm, the devil is all bite. No venom."
And that statement has changed me ever since.
She went on to talk about the fact that even though we have survived the perfect storm the devil will still try to bring us down.
He never stops trying.
He often tries over and over again as we struggle to just do the next simple thing in life.
Even in the picking up of sticks, the devil will try to find a way to get us.
But because we have survived something greater, something huge,
we have the power to shake him off into the fire.
He cannot destroy us anymore.
His venom has no strength.
So many times since Nick has died,
I have felt the bite of satan.
I have been discouraged, attacked, and overwhelmed,
but I remember Paul's story and Beth's words and I suddenly know that I have a choice in every difficult situation.
I can shake the devil off into the fire.
After you have survived the perfect storm,
you can too.
And I'm here to tell you that YOU CAN SURVIVE THE PERFECT STORM.
God will bring you through the toughest, darkest days,
and one day you will find yourself picking up sticks for a fire.
Then you will learn that even in the regular, everyday kind-of life we must life,
the devil is there too.
Trying to bring you down in little ways over and over again.
But he can't.
You have survived the perfect storm and nothing can stop you now.
Today, you may be in the storm or you may be picking up sticks.
No matter where you find yourself today,
be encouraged and strengthened.
GOD IS WITH YOU IN BOTH PLACES,
and the devil has no power.
You are a survivor of storms and snakebites!
Smile today as you walk with Him who promises victory not once but for eternity!!