Monday, August 1, 2011

Trusting in the Storm

Cheryl Fellores

Fears. We all have them. Fears come in different shapes and sizes, but they share something in common: their ability to paralyze us and take our focus off God. The little voice of fear we hear becomes louder than the gentle whisper of our loving Savior.

In August 2007, my biggest fear became a reality. My teenage son, Justin, moved back to Indiana to live with his father. The weeks leading up to his departure, I prayed my most heart-felt prayers for God to stop the madness. God’s response was “Do you trust Me?” My instant answer was “yes, but not enough to give up my son.” That began my journey of truly trusting Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

“Do you trust Me?” Those four simple words rocked me to my core because I understood what it meant. I’d have to face my biggest fear in life: losing Justin. God didn’t stop the nightmare. Instead, He held me close as I gave up my son.

None of this surprised God. He had been preparing me when He prompted me months prior to get serious about quiet time with Him. During that quiet time, He taught me how to listen for His voice and to dig deeper into His Word. That was paramount to helping me through my dark days.

Over the next few months, I battled hopelessness and depression as I prayed for God to bring my baby back. His answer was “No.” God reminded me that Justin had become more important in my life than my relationship with Him, violating the first commandment of “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). As I continued the learning process, God poured into me by surrounding me with women of faith. He also used Christian music to shift my focus from me to Him.

One morning, the light bulb came on while listening to Casting Crown’s “Praise You in This Storm.” Right then and there, I thanked God for my circumstances. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God had a reason for this storm. He used it to help me completely rely on Him for peace. It was then that I accepted my situation. My heart was filled with gratitude right there in the middle of the biggest storm of my life. My thankfulness was no longer conditional upon Justin coming home. My faith had grown wings. I was soaring with God.

A few months after Justin’s move to Indiana, he came home for a visit. As he shared his desire to live with us again, I had to put my faith into action while fighting every urge in my body that wanted to take control to make it happen. No, this time, I was committed to doing it God’s way. Taking Justin to the airport was gut-wrenching, but I had to trust God, and this time I really did. As we waited, over and over I prayed “Your will, Your way in Your time – not mine.”

Then, it happened. On January 27, 2008, God rewarded my obedience and trust. Justin came home. This time, it was to stay.

In looking back, I realized something. There were a few prodigal experiences running simultaneously. Before this storm, Justin wanted very little to do with God. But now, he’s on fire for Jesus. I also ran back into Jesus’ arms, and that is where I will stay.

The memories of that experience are still painful, but it changed my heart as I learned to completely trust the Lord. God had a plan for this. He used it to transform Justin and our entire family, including me. This became part of our story. The story will be told as each of us reach out to the hurting to help them find hope in the Lord. “He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). God has led me to write a book and to share our story with Christian women’s groups. For Justin, God is calling him to become a youth pastor.

Do we ever learn when the experiences are easy? I rarely do, but I wish I had! This lesson stuck and has become my reference for every time the storms brew. I’ve learned that even though the storm clouds are rolling in, the sun still shines behind them. Our Lord shines even when we can’t see Him in the raging storms of life. He’s still there – just like the sun shining behind the storm clouds. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5b). But, it’s not enough to just know that in our heads-we need to know it deep in our hearts.

God has a plan for each of us. He needs us to step up and engage in that plan. It brings meaning to our lives and to the pain we have suffered. We are called to help others to find Jesus in their storms of life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God’s promises aren’t just for those who lived many, many years ago. They are for you and me. We have a choice. Will we trust Him? Will we strain to hear His voice in the midst of our storms?

Speaker and writer Cheryl Fellores is passionate about helping others find Jesus. She and her husband Joey raise four children, ages 18 to 5, just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Cheryl actively volunteers with a number of organizations including the Cove Church and In His Steps dance ministry.


Melissa @ Half Dozen Mama said...

This is such a beautiful testimony of God holding you close through the storm. And ultimately using it for His purposes. I just love how He does that!

This was beautifully written and I just know the Lord is going to use your words to bless, encourage and challenge others in their walks with Him.