Rest and Prepare!

Two weeks ago a group of five women from our Orphan Care ministry gathered on my couch for a time of fellowship, encouragement, and prayer. Some of the women are well-seasoned foster care moms while others are experiencing their first placement. Regardless of the stage, each one had praises to report and requests for prayer and we enjoyed a rich time of mutually encouraging one another in this season of life.

After each woman shared her story, one of them looked at me and said, "You haven't shared your story, Michelle! How can we pray for you?" It took me a second to collect my thoughts because I was so focused on the foster-care/birth parent/social worker pieces of the conversation that I didn't think I had anything to offer. After a brief pause, I responded, "Honestly? I am enjoying the season of calm the Lord has us in right now. After an incredibly difficult season last school year, and a trying summer, it feels quite nice to be living in a time of peace on all fronts. However, we never get to stay in the eye of the storm long - for growth happens in the whirlwinds. My prayer is, 'Lord, prepare us for what is to come!'"

And I can see Him doing so already.
Spiritually - He has given me an intense desire, and need, to read and study Scripture.
Emotionally - He has me surrounded by godly people who encourage me and speak truth.
Intellectually - He has me devouring biographies of giants of the faith and I am learning much.
Physically - He convicted me to focus on nutrition and exercise, and I am growing stronger daily.

I find it interesting that He is equally pushing me in all four areas rather than one or two, and while I would never hope for trials, I am trusting that He is indeed preparing me for what is to come whether small or large or a combination thereof.

I love this image of a storm, with the eye so clearly visible smack dab in the center. The winds swirl and rage, but there is one small spot that is free from all of the chaos. A small space in which to rest, revive, and take deep breaths before heading back into the whirling winds. For as we know - we must always go back inside the storm because it is in the tumbling and tumult that we are stretched and refined the most.

Times of peace allow us to strengthen ourselves through the Word, prayer, fellowship, and worship. Like an athlete preparing for a race, we can focus on the training. The race has not started, so we plan and prepare and sharpen our skills so when the starting gun pops - we are READY!

The dictionary defines an "eye of the storm" this way:
1. (Lit.) the area of calm in the center of a tornado, hurricane, or cyclone.
2. (Fig.) a temporary peaceful time amidst more trouble and strife yet to come.

I love this! It shows that though time in the eye is peaceful, it is also temporary.
While we should thoroughly enjoy a Divine respite, we cannot grow stagnant, proud, or comfortable. We must use the quiet for equal rest and preparation so we are fully equipped to handle the coming storm.

As I thought about this, I was reminded of these verses:

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:17, 25

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10

O, Lord, I want to be a woman who praises You as loudly IN the storms as she does when the storms have ceased. I can only see what is right in front of me, but You see from the beginning of time into all eternity. You know my weaknesses, my failings, and my fears. Refine each one so I can become a woman of strength. A woman who is fully aware of and fully surrendered to the strength that holds me up, pushes me forward, and keeps me from falling. On my own, I can do nothing, but if I abide in You I can do anything. Thank You, Father, for being a gracious, loving, and powerful God who always keeps His arms open so His children can run into them - and feel safe.

May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. Psalm 25:21

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