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“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32

In the Scripture above, Jesus is referencing His death on the cross and how through His death, He would draw all people to Himself. Our pastor referenced this verse this morning in his sermon, and it was once again used tonight in the Bible study I attended. In both instances, the verse jumped out to me because it was used in a way I hadn’t thought about before. I’ve always just thought about it being a indication of Jesus’death on the cross and how He would draw men to Himself as I mentioned above. Today, our pastor and the Bible study teacher took the verse a little out of its context and made it symbolic of us being responsible to exalt Christ in our lives and let Him take care of drawing the people to Him. In other words, our job is to lift Him up, and His job is to draw people unto Himself.  We can forget that the best way to point others in His direction is to simply love our lives for Him. We want to make this process so grand that it becomes difficult. We try to put on a dog-and-pony show to make God look appealing, when all the world needs to see to make God appealing is the true Him living in us. The world doesn’t want perfection in your life…they want authenticity. They don’t want big words and fancy phrases…they want teaching that applies to them and helps them where they are. The world doesn’t understand condemnation from you while you profess a Savior without condemnation. God never told us we need anything to lead others to Him other than Him. He is enough! And if we live out lives to exalt Him, He will use it to draw others to Himself.

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With the images of the destruction brought on by Hurricane Harvey freshly embedded in our minds and the threat of Irma looming in the near future, I think we all have hurricanes at the forefront of our thoughts right now.  As we try to recover from Harvey and prepare for Irma, it may be easy to lose sight of how much God loves us.  It may be easy to feel as if He has abandoned us or doesn’t really care what happens to us.  We may think our cries to Him for help are falling on deaf ears.  We may think that we don’t matter to Him at all, but nothing is farther from the truth.  It doesn’t take a degree in meteorology to know how powerful a hurricane is, but God’s love for you is even more powerful.  It doesn’t take a degree in meteorology to know the widespread effects of a hurricane, but God’s love is even more widespread.  A hurricane crashing over you may have long lasting effects, but no hurricane can effect you as much as the love of Jesus crashing over you will.  The lyrics to “Fierce” by Jesus Culture say it all:

Before I call
Before I ever cry
You answer me
From where the thunder hides
I can’t outrun
This heart I’m tethered to
When every step
I collide with You

Like a tidal wave
Crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane
That I can’t escape
Tearing through the atmosphere
Your love is fierce

You cannot fail
The only thing I’ve found
Is through it all
You never let me down
You don’t hold back
Relentless in pursuit
At every turn
I come face to face with You

Like a tidal wave
Crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane
That I can’t escape
Tearing through the atmosphere
Your love is fierce

You surround me
You chase me down
You seek me out
How can I be lost when You have called me found
You chase me down
You seek me out
How can I be lost when You have called me found
You chase me down
You seek me out
How can I be lost when You have called me found

Like a tidal wave
Crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane
That I can’t escape
Tearing through the atmosphere
His love is fierce
Your love is fierce
You never let go
Your love is fierce
Even now You surround me
Your love is fierce
Always, always
His love is fierce

Today as I scrolled through Facebook, I saw post after post after post about people tearing out walls and floors from their homes due to the massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey. I saw mountains of furniture, carpet, and Sheetrock piled outside  of these homes and my heart is just heavy for all of the loss that has occurred. In the midst of my scrolling, I came across a story that  I just have to share with you because it is a reminder that God is right here in the midst of this tragedy. It was a story from Friendswood, Texas. As the family was cleaning out their Nana’s house, they came across a Bible laying open in the front yard. When they looked closely, it was opened to Lamentations 5 which is called “The Prayer of Restoration” on one side and to Ekekiel 1 which is about a great storm and the angels that emerged during the storm on the other side.  When I read that, tears sprang into my eyes because I knew this was no accident. God had a message for this family, and He has the same message for every family facing catastrophes in their lives, whether a result of a hurricane or not. His message is clear…He is here with us, and He is a God of restoration. No, life may never be the same after the devastation you face, but God is. Everything you have ever known may be turned upside down, but God hasn’t been. You may have lost more than you can bear, but you have not lost Him. Before your “hurricane” even hits, God has a plan for your restoration and it’s beyond your wildest dreams. And while you’re sorting through what feels like the end of the world, look around you…God has sent His angels to be among you.

 

We sang the song “Do It Again” today in church and with all the devastation Hurricane Harvey brought to Texas, the message of this song has been on my heart all day. Here is a section of the so g:

“Your promise still stands, Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness.           I’m still in Your hands, this is my confidence; You have never failed me yet.                                                 I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains, and I believe I’ll see You do it again. You made a way when there was no way, and I believe I’ll see You do it again.”

As I think about the mountains everyone affected by the hurricane face, not to mention the mountains every single one of us face in our lives, I know that God is our only Hope.  He has never failed us and He won’t this time either. He is faithful no matter what mountain stands in our way. He is our confidence when we have none. Don’t forget for one moment that you are in His hands…He has you and will never let you go. Take time to think about the mountains He has moved for you before and rest in the peace and assurance that He will move the mountains standing in your way this time.

Today my heart continues to break for those ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Last night the town I called home for many years was virtually destroyed by torrential rains. As I see all of the pictures on social media and on the news, I am just at a loss over the devastation. However, in the midst of that devastation, I am also seeing something that is the most beautiful thing in the world…I am seeing the hands and feet of Jesus in action. People are working tirelessly to rescue those who can’t get out of their homes. People are working tirelessly to get people to shelters and provide food, clothing, and basic necessities. People are opening their homes to anyone and everyone they can squeeze in. People are helping pass messages along via social media to let others know about needs. People are helping each other regardless of skin color, socioeconomic status, religion, or sexual orientation. The only thing anyone is thinking about is helping each other. And this, my friends, is what Jesus in action looks like. He is right there in the midst of you in the actions of others. He has not left you nor forsaken you. He is very present in your time of desperate need. Your city may be ravaged, but He is there.

“Praise be to the Lord, for He showed me the wonders of His love when I was in a city under siege.” Psalm 31:21

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you…” Isaiah 43:2

As I write tonight, there are innumerable amounts of people who are enduring devastation due to Hurricane Harvey. People have been displaced from their homes, may have lost their homes and belongings, and some have even had to be rescued from rising flood waters. Record breaking amounts of rain have fallen and continue to fall in Texas and now into Louisiana. Every time I watch the news or read my social media feed, my heart is just broken over the devastation occurring in the state I grew up in, and my heart breaks to know of the potential devastation my current home state could endure. I’ve seen multiple posts on social media about people watching water rise and rise, knowing that it is just a matter of time before it gets into their homes  and over and over again they say they just feel so helpless. They know there is nothing they can do to stop the inevitable except watch it happen before their eyes. I’ve been through enough hurricanes and flooding situations to know that helpless feeling, but I’ve also been through enough hurricanes and flooding situations to know that God is right there with you as you endure it. I wish I could explain all of the why’s of God’s plan in catastrophes like this, but I can’t. I wish I could explain why some are spared devastation in these situations while others lose everything, but I can’t. I wish I could explain why some are rescued, while others don’t make it  out alive, but I can’t. Only God knows the reasons why things play out as they do. But, what I do know is that He has a plan and a purpose for every single detail of the situation. He doesn’t waste anything we go through. He uses it all. We may not understand it today or tomorrow or next month or next year or ever on this side of eternity, but we can trust Him. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, and He is faithful to keep His word. Cling to Him, and He will carry you through whatever waters you are facing! Your life may be changed forever due to this hurricane, but He is right there with you, and He will never let you go!

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I shared this picture from the solar eclipse last night, but I wanted to share it again, looking at it from another perspective. When I look at this picture, I am reminded that no matter what, darkness cannot overcome light. Try as it might, the darkness cannot overpower the light. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the Light, and this picture reminds me that no matter how much darkness there is in the world, Jesus can overcome every single bit of it. He is our hope when there is no hope. He is our peace when there is no peace. He is our way when there is no way. He is the Light when we are drowning in darkness. As long as we have Jesus, we have light to overcome this world.

“And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5

 

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