For me, a simple plane ride can emit the same feeling of serenity that practitioners of yoga strive for. I have a time of peace to think and reflect.
Back in April, I was glued to the window as per usual, and I was enamored with the stormy, gray clouds that we were slicing through. I had just read a chapter out of the book Momentum by Derek Garde entitled “Proving Grounds” that delved into the dangers of seeking validation from the world. Ultimately, the chapter addresses the consequences of pursuing the world to attain satisfaction and discusses how it will never come to fruition since Jesus is the only one who can make our hearts full. It was a spot-on, convicting read that was exactly what I needed to see for my present trials.
So my spiritual gears are all meshing, and I look out and see that we had ascended above the storm clouds, basking in the rays of the sun with a clear blue sky watching over us.
Then I had this aha moment.
God is like the ever-present clear sky above the clouds. He is always there watching over us, and there are times when the sky is perfectly clear and we can absolutely feel his presence, but there are also days when our negative perceptions and attitudes cloud our hearts, diminish our faith, and keep us stagnate.
Our circumstances can vary from clarity and trust to darkness and worry. We have days fraught with struggles, when we look up and the entire sky is covered by low altitude clouds–not a patch of blue in sight–and we take that to mean that God isn’t around. If we can’t see him working in our lives, how can He be there? All too often, God “working” in our lives is only associated with positive changes. When we pursue the world instead of pursuing God to discover our purpose, a torrential rainstorm looms over us.
On the clear days, our faith is impenetrable. We walk through life with full hearts because we can see God; our lives are joyful and filled with relative ease, so we know He’s there. I can admit that I’m at my most confident in my faith when I feel like I can see God working in my life, but that’s because I only see what I want to see on some days. The last six months of my life have been fraught with trial after trial after trial, and I reached the darkest point within myself. But God broke me down to nothing so that He could rebuild me from the ground up, and it has been a beautiful experience.
It’s the cloudy days that give our faith significance; it’s at our darkest points in life when the strength of our faith is truly put to the test.
Let’s break it down this way…
Clouds: The doubt that can distort your perspective and diminish your attitude; the trials that call for your faith to be at its strongest. These trials can either make or break you, depending on how you perceive them.
Rain: The aspects of a situation that have the potential to be seen as positive or negative, depending on your lens. They can either be seen as fuel to grow your faith, or they can be seen as personal attacks on the happiness in your life, which ultimately poisons your joy and makes you a slave to your own pessimism. Just as it can be with withering flowers, it takes time for the rain to nourish the plants back to life and make them blossom better than ever before.
Clear skies: God’s everlasting presence and when His plan for your life feels the most transparent.
Stormy days: Those times of trials in our faith wherein we don’t use the lens of God’s perpetual, eternal love for us as our motivator; dark days that are spiritually back-breaking if our focus is not primarily on His will.
Recently, we had a solid week of continuous rain in my hometown, and in that week, I was gloomy, feeling like the weather would never improve. When you focus on the negatives and ignore the blessings that aren’t as obvious, trials feel eternal. God is trying to mold you every single day. No matter how He does it, everything that happens to you is intended to strengthen your faith and fill your soul.
Unfortunately, God did not give me the ability to change the weather; I can’t create blue skies with the flick of a wrist, but I can change my perspective and my attitude on the stormy days. You can’t force the rain to go away, so you have to embrace it. Moping around and dwelling in negativity drains your patience and energy, wastes far too much time, and never proves to be advantageous. Don’t let yourself get thrown off course.
Trust that there’s still a clear sky just beyond those clouds; there is still a greater purpose that is more powerful than even the worst of storms. And often times, the sunset that follows the rain is a uniquely breathtaking sight.
This whole experience put an entirely new spin on a phrase I’ve heard for years:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
We have to look up and feel joy no matter what we see or don’t see; no matter if we’re above the clouds experiencing the euphoria of life or we’re down on the ground getting rained on, we have to choose joy. That is the only option when it comes to living our lives to the fullest. The hardest part is dying to self and trusting in God, but once we do that, we can accomplish anything through His divine strength.
When you can close your eyes and wholeheartedly trust in God no matter what your circumstance, you’ll find joy in the midst of a storm, and you’ll be dancing in the rain.