Saturday, June 30, 2018

No Way Out?

Funny how thoughts of past adventures drift into your memory when you need encouragement. Many people nowadays are facing pretty hefty challenges. Our family is no exception. But this verse keeps popping up in my head, “And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of their testimony..."—Revelation 12:11).

In tough times, I am comforted when I reflect on all the times God has shown up in this adventure called life. And, frankly, I can’t recall any time He has let us down. Through illness challenges (both human and horse), lack challenges (no truck), family challenges, on-the-road challenges, ministry challenges, people packaged with challenges, on and on, there has always been answers…aka hope. Answers come in ways we expect or ways we never thought of (and every variation in between), but all answers come from a God who is incredibly kind and full of wisdom.

So, I have to remind myself of His faithful goodness with each confrontation that rears its ugly head: focusing on the faith of a good report, even when I can’t see the outcome clearly; focusing on the One who makes all things possible, even when there seems to be no way out.

The following simple, yet profound testimony insists on making a recurring appearance in my thoughts. It reminds me of God’s grace and power, and I figured it may encourage you too:

Back in 2005, before our living-in-our-horse trailer-days, Bruce (my husband) and I loaded up my diesel truck with snacks, sleeping bags, and a pup tent and headed cross-country. We sing/play Christian Country music, so concerts were scheduled along the way during our round trip from Texas to Wisconsin to California and back to Texas again.

Bruce and I love to stay in and explore National and State Parks. So after our concerts in Wisconsin, we set out for The Badlands of South Dakota.
As we traveled through The Badlands, we gawked at the strange, unearthly look of the landscape. It looked like a movie set from Star Wars!

We stopped and snapped pictures, enjoying this unfamiliar “moon” scape. However, we grew increasingly wary of the skies and the ominous storm brewing in the distance. But the storm seemed far off and was actually quite beautiful to watch with its swirling clouds and lightning show.

We made our way through the hills and down into a valley, keeping an eye out for a campground sign. A stampede delayed us a bit, so it was rather late by the time we spotted the campground entrance (see last month's post: Bison in The Badlands).

Creeping through a sleeping campground is a tad difficult in a diesel truck, but we trekked to the far end of the place, away from the other campers.

We set up camp and prepared for a good night’s sleep. Glancing at the skies again, we caught our breath—the humongous thunderstorm we had been watching changed course and headed straight at us! There was no way out. We hunkered down in our tiny, nylon tent and listened as the rumble of thunder drew closer.

Now in South Dakota, there’s a lot of open ground. And, here we sat in our flimsy tent with little to no protection. The line of that storm stretched so wide, there was no way it would miss us. About the only thing we could do was pray. And pray we did! We rebuked that storm in the Name of Jesus, then prayed and thanked the Lord for protecting us (albeit through heavily beating hearts).

We tried not to count the seconds between the flashes of lightening and the claps of thunder, but it was hard to ignore. By then the flashes and the thunder became almost as one. We prayed harder, thanking God again for our protection and that the storm had no authority where we were.

Suddenly the wind came up…blowing against the storm! My first thought was the verse in Psalms: “He makes His angels winds.” I told Bruce my thought.

“Hey! The Holy Spirit just told me the same thing!” he said.

We breathed a sigh of relief. The storm stopped within a short distance of our camp and blew around the campground in a circle. (Psalm 104:4)

As the thunder continued to roll and the lightning danced, we peeked out our tent flap. Directly above, we gazed at stars twinkling in a canopy of clear, black sky.

Safe and dry, we settled in for that good night’s rest.

(For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall—Isaiah 25:4.)

Shara's book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational true stories of God's encouragement on the trail less-traveled: