preparing for storms

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Take more ground on the good days.”

I read those words some months ago, back in the heat of North Carolina’s summer.  I have thought of them so often since then.  Susie Larson, author of Your Beautiful Purpose, was writing about a concept from her fitness-instructing days.  The concept is that there are days you wake up feeling somehow stronger, with more clarity, energized.  Those are the days you take extra ground in your fitness goals: push harder, lift more, run farther.

“Leverage the day to your advantage…because a day is coming when you’ll feel less than stellar and it’ll be all you can do to show up for your workout.  In order not to lose ground on those difficult days, you need to gain ground on the favorable days.”

What am I doing with my good days, the days where running feels easy?  What am I doing with my strength, with the seasons of blessing?

The hard days just come.  God tries to prepare us, He is as up-front as He can be: “in this world you WILL have trouble,” He says {John 16:33}.  You don’t wait for the storm to be upon you before you start building up a strong home, a safe haven, a good foundation.  If you wait, you will surely come to ruin!  You run hard in the good days.  You run a little harder, a little farther.  You leverage that strength.  You prepare for the storms that will inevitably come.

You know they are coming, they are not going to derail you.

You know they’re coming, they’re not to going to make you question why a good God would allow them.  He has told you He will allow them.  He has told you to take heart because even though the trouble WILL come, He has already overcome it.  And so you plan to lean hard into that future grace.

And so when you feel like you have earned a rest, that maybe you can sit back a bit on your laurels, maybe this is the time to run ahead.

Don’t wait for the storms to come to start battening down the hatches.  Batten down the hatches on the good days, when you’re feeling strong, when you can hardly imagine a hard day in sight.  When you feel like your marriage couldn’t be stronger.  Your parenting skills are pretty great.  Your relationship with God is good.  You’ve got this “quiet time” thing down pat.  You pray like you want to.  Your finances are ship shape.  Your portfolio is impressive.  Your job is smooth sailing.

Use that good season, leverage it.  You know hard times will come.  And will your faith stand?  Will your marriage stand?  You won’t have the strength to set a good foundation in your marriage or in your walk with God when the hard blows come.  It’s then that you need a strong home already built to weather that storm.

It’s part of what is so hard and broken about this life here on this terrestrial sod.  The working never really ceases.  You clean the floors, and that’s about as good as it gets for a few minutes.  Because part of the fallenness of this place is that left to its own devices, everything naturally falls into a state of decay.  Nothing improves without our working.  Without maintenance and constant, persevering attention.  And without our attention, everything slowly quietly falls into disrepair.

You don’t do this out of fear.  You do this out of wisdom.

You need some scripture planted deep down in the marrow of your soul for the times when you don’t know when to turn in His Word.  For the times when you’re groping for His voice.  {Consider joining in here with a group to memorize scripture, soul-sustaining words from Christ in the Gospel of John.}

Maybe you need to try some new things in your marriage, make some goals that include sustaining and nourishing your marriage in new ways.

You place yourself in a network of other moms, maybe some older moms too.

Maybe you seek out and build up some solid friendships even though you’re feeling pretty good and independent.

I know some people aren’t into January and new year resolutions.  Who wants to set goals when you just finished the last year and feel like you blew it?  Who really wants to try again?  And some people argue we should always be living in today so we don’t need to be setting goals for tomorrow.  But what about stepping back and taking stock?  What about seasons where we evaluate how we’re doing, where we clear our muddled vision and set sights afresh on the goal, and consider how to run for that goal well?  This is what I love about January, and the freshness of a new year, and the setting of goals or resolutions.

This is what I love about a God who gave us the physical illustration of seasons, each season bringing its own “now” and each season calling us to prepare for what’s ahead.  Tilling soil and planting seed in spring, months before you’ll see that harvest.  Chopping and stacking wood in the heat of the summer, months before you can even imagine a cold bone-chilling wind, so that it dries out and is ready for the unexpected need.  Canning and storing the yield of that harvest for the days when the ground is cold and hard as iron and no fruit is hanging from the vine.

Always, the working, the leveraging today’s strength for tomorrow’s weakness.  For what unknown but certain storm is ahead.

So tell me.. what are you doing with your good days?

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