Praise You in this Storm
I’ve been listening to a lot of Casting Crowns Lately, specifically the Lifesong album. One song on this album that I’ve really been listening to a lot is the song “Praise You in this Storm”
The Chorus Goes like this: (If you haven’t heard the song, I’ll post a link down below)
And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
2018 has been a troubling year for me, to put it lightly. I’ve gone through the motions of trying to understand my faith, and understand the call on God’s life for me, including why it is that I’m at a bible college pursuing the prospect of full time ministry.
Nearly a year ago I led a city-wide worship service with my sister and best friends, and had a blast. After that I was hit with constant nudges and reminders by God, through people and sometimes through personal reminders, about this idea to pursue full time ministry and not just do it on the side. It got to the point where I had random people coming up to me in restaurants telling me to go to Bible College.
I took these nudges as a confirmation from God to pursue full time ministry by going to Bible College, but thats where all hell broke loose.
In my first two weeks at the college, one thing that I had heard several times already was that Bible College is a place where people lose their faith and walk away from God. I remember hearing this and thinking, “that’s not me, I’ll never walk away.” But here I am, struggling with my faith and wanting to walk away. How does this happen?
I believe that I’m in an unusual circumstance, in that I have many other outside factors contributing to my personal struggle (more on that later) but I think it comes down to the fact that when you attend a Bible College you are putting time, money and energy into learning about who God is and learning how to effectively do his ministry, that can be overwhelming.
I went to Bible College thinking that I had a pretty good idea about who God was and that I had a pretty good idea about worship ministry (something I was heavily involved in before attending). And in a month it felt like all of that was stripped away and I was starting at square one, re-learning who God was and trying to make out how he fits into my life. It’s hard to have everything you know stripped away from you. Now when I say stripped away, I mean in the sense that I had a very limited knowledge and I had to rebuild my foundation in order to dig deeper in a way that was effective. Think of it like this, if you want to do a renovation on an old house, likely there are some foundation issues to address in order to make sure its safe and can support the changes you want to bring. I had to address my biblical foundation so that I could begin to dive deeper on who God was.
This isn’t an easy process, and it’s left me more times then not with questions as I try to work out my own faith. Then a storm hit. I went home for Christmas and struggled with many relationships both in and out of the church, and ended up returning back to college with a memory of Christmas holiday I wish I could forget, and broken relationships that to this day still haven’t been mended. My church that I invested two years of my life into had become a place I didn’t want to step into.
There were so many things that happened all at once, that it all built up to a point where I broke. I thought this storm would never clear. Throughout this year there have been moments where I’ve asked myself, “Why am I here?” The question regarding full-time ministry had suddenly become clouded. Why would I invest myself into something where I don’t even know what I believe anymore, or where I’ve experienced so much hurt over the years, but especially now.
It’s so easy to feel alone when a storm hits, and I found myself listening to this song thinking, “I know these words are true, but I don’t believe they are true.” And I think that’s something that we as humans struggle with a lot. We have information available at our finger tips, and it’s easy to know something, but do we really believe it?
For me 2018 has been a year about re-discovering my faith. I know God exists, I know that he died for our sins, I know that he is with us, but I don’t believe that he is here. Sounds bleak, I know. But it’s the truth.
I’ve been lucky that the last few years of my life have been some of the greatest. I had a good group of friends, a great church, and loved the ministry opportunities that I was involved in. But I believe that God has a desire for me to pursue more of that and to do more, and sometimes that involves a bit of a breaking down before I can be built up again, which sounds pretty bad in the moment, but it’s been a good thing for me to realize that life isn’t always puppies and rainbows, even though puppies are really cute.
For me this song speaks a truth that we all need to believe, not just know. “You never left my side.” There are moments when I’ve felt completely alone, and I imagine we all go through these periods of time where we feel completely alone and don’t know how to go on, but when we come to the realization that God really is with us, and wants to walk through life with us, he wants to cry with us, and be our strength, that’s something else man.
I spent the first two months of this year skipping church, bitter about being hurt by a different church that I didn’t want to go. I would attend school chapels and not engage myself. And finally last week I raised my hands for the first time this year. It was a moment of saying, “God I’m going to choose to worship you despite the fact that I feel like crap and I’m angry.”
2018 has been a storm for me, but I’m working through that storm with God by my side. Choosing to worship in the storm is hard. And even though I’ve struggled with all these outside problems that have worn me down, I need to put my trust in God and realize that my strength comes from him, not from myself.
All of this is easier said then done, but that’s why its called faith. Life isn’t going to be easy, but it sure is better with God by my side.
So where does that leave me now? I think right now I’m in a place of focusing on re-connecting with God and trying to just be in relationship with him. Keeping it simple. The storm is starting to clear, I can see the light, and I know that the next time a storm comes I’m going to want to lean on God to carry me through the storm.
I still don’t know what God’s picture of ministry looks for me going forward. I’m taking it one step at a time. I think just focusing on what God wants for me in this moment is enough. I’ll trust that when the time comes I’ll be able to make a decision that will lead me to where God wants me next, where that’s here or somewhere else. Inside the church or outside the church, I’m not sure. I do know that I love the worship ministry and I want to be involved in that, I’m just not sure how that looks right now. And that’s ok. Because at the end of the day, we don’t have everything figured out, and that’s why we need Jesus, to lead us, and walk with us, and to be the one that has everything figured out so that I don’t have too.