Are You Ready?
The best time to prepare for a storm is before it hits.
We empty the grocery store shelves of bread and water at the first report of a major storm whether we already have four cases of water and twelve loaves of bread at home or not.
We’re trained to do it.
We train for the occasional, physical storms. But what about the mental and emotional storms?
When the ring of a phone can change your life, you need to be prepared before you answer it.
We need our souls stocked with enough bread and water to sustain us during the worst of storms.
The emergency supplies our soul needs is the power and comfort of — and the belief in — the full Character of God.
Knowing the full character of God is even better than knowing karate.
My son is a black belt in Aikido — a form of martial arts focused on stopping attackers in their tracks.
If someone pointed a gun at his head, his heart rate would rise, but his training would kick in. He’d grab the gun with a swift Aikido technique and disarm the gunman.
If a gun were aimed at my head, my heart rate would shoot through the roof. I’d either freeze or faint dead away.
But, if I knew the gun was unloaded, I’d be better able to control my heart rate and think.
Knowing and believing in the character of God in the midst of a storm is like knowing the gun is unloaded.
A gun at my head, loaded or unloaded, is going to unnerve me. But knowing it’s unloaded makes a big difference.
Being in the midst of a storm will unnerve us. But knowing God’s character in the storm makes a huge difference.
Unfortunately, panic can cause us to forget even the basics, like our name.
How can we expect to remember God’s character in a storm if we can’t even remember our own name?
Train in the Calm Before the Storm so You’ll be Calm In the Storm
Tennis isn’t a storm — although the guy on the other court, who wound up with a bloody nose when my husband Larry shanked his backhand, may disagree — but the principle of training is the same.
When Larry began coaching me on correct form, he gave me a million directions to memorize. Per shot.
Bend your knees…step into the ball…weight forward…racket head up…make sure your grip is right…bring your racket back but not too far back…swing low to high…follow through…keep your eye on the ball…catch the ball on the rise…plant your feet before you hit…get back to the center of the court after you hit…blah blah blah…
Those directions didn’t even include strategy for winning the point. They were merely how to get the ball back over the net.
Before the training became ingrained, whenever I played a match, I defaulted back to merely whacking the ball as best I could.
Little by little, practice after practice, the training finally sunk in.
Eventually, I surprised myself.
I began to naturally catch the ball on the rise and swing low to high.
I became instantly aware when my weight was on my back foot instead of my front because it now felt instinctively wrong.
I now stood at the net, hungry for my opponent to hit toward me rather than terrified.
Hours of practice when nothing was on the line made all the difference on how I performed when it mattered.
Practice intentionally remembering God’s character every day when nothing is on the line.
When you’re late to work and the driver in front of you is sitting at the green light too long, think, “It’s training time.”
Actively choose to remember the character traits of God that would help calm your spirit and give you the patience you’d need if you’d just been in a wreck.
When your friend is crunching on ice, and they’re on your last nerve, think, “It’s training time.”
What character traits of God would best help you overcome feelings of rage and generate patience, peace, and forgiveness if someone were verbally attacking you or someone you love?
When your child calls you on the phone, tell yourself, “It’s training time.”
Choose to remember the powerful aspects of God’s nature that would hold you strong if your child were calling you from the back of a police car.
Train When It Doesn’t Matter, Because One Day It Will
During the Clemson–Louisville football game last Saturday, I texted one of my best friends and fellow passionate Clemson fans.
We didn’t talk about the plays or the score. We talked about God’s purposes, will, and goodness.
We weren’t being super-spiritual. We were super-freaked out over the game.
Clemson’s win came down to the final few seconds and one yard.
We were training ourselves.
Whether Clemson won or not, wouldn’t change our lives, but our emotions acted like it was life or death.
We took advantage of that training time.
We reminded each other of the character traits of God we needed, not only to get through the game without ripping our hair out but also for when some storm may rip our hearts out.
When It’s Game Time
One evening my friend got a phone call, and it was game time.
One of her sons was in the Emergency Room two states away.
In that moment, she didn’t rise to the occasion. She fell back to the level of her training.
She remembered the goodness and faithfulness of her sovereign God.
She remembered that while she was far away from her son, God was near.
She remembered that God knows all things and does all things well.
And she remembered that He answers prayer.
Her son’s condition scared her. A lot.
But because she’d trained herself when life was smooth to remember God’s character and trust in it when life exploded, she was able to push away the panic and experience peace.
We don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but we can train for it today.
A storm is coming. How ready you are to face it will be determined by how well you’ve trained.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.
~ Isaiah 26:3
In my next post, we’ll look at the character traits of God we need to know and believe.