Protection in the Storm

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael impacted my region approximately three short weeks after my last blog post. That experience had a lasting impact on me, and it has taken time to process how that disaster has affected so many, how I experienced it personally, and where God was through all of it. With the 2019 hurricane season now upon us, I want to share with you what God has been teaching me.

It all started with a dream…

Over the rolling hills, I flew. Swaths of evergreens intermingled with dots of yellow, brown, and red patches stretched as far as my eyes could see on that cool, Fall day. Below, thin strips of pavement snaking narrowly, disappeared and peeked through the surrounding green before weaving out of sight once again. Office buildings, universities, shopping centers, neighborhoods, and grocery stores poked through the natural colors in the patchwork beneath me.

“So beautiful,” I thought, gliding above, weightless and carefree. I squeezed my eyes tightly together, inhaling the air around me with tremendous happiness. I felt great pride knowing this beautiful area was my home. However, those feelings didn’t last long.

When I gazed upon the landscape below once more, I realized something was terribly wrong. Broken pine trees lay bent and bowed like crushed, thrown tinker toys. Buildings were collapsed. Roofs were torn, missing, and scattered across neighborhoods. I felt a lump in my throat and a heaviness in my heart. Destruction was everywhere.

As I floated above the more populated areas of my hometown, the devastation grew: twisted metal, fallen trees, bent fences, and broken lamp posts, snapped in half. Although, I couldn’t see the people below, I felt their sorrow as if it were my own. The deep sense of loss and pain, anxiety and depression, and utter hopelessness overtook me. In my soul, I knew what had happened — a powerful hurricane hit, and no one saw it coming. No one was ready for it.

Why weren’t they ready? I asked myself aloud, feeling utterly helpless. It wasn’t like we hadn’t experienced hurricanes before this one, but this one was…different.

I sped across the sky to my neighborhood, longing to know what had become of my neighbors and home. The long, winding road below, leading to the entrance of my street was covered in tree debris and limbs, rendering it impassible. Towering, ancient pines had destroyed many of the homes. Most of the houses had massive trees toppled across roofs, through living rooms, bedrooms, and garages. Cars in driveways were crushed, and their windshields smashed.

The scene was strangely still like a photograph. No one was standing in the roadways. No lights were on inside homes. No wind blew. No rain fell from the sky. It was as if the earth stood still. It all just looked so…lifeless. I choked back tears and covered my eyes.

“No more!” I whimpered as I felt a strange shifting sensation around me. The feeling was unfamiliar, and I felt uneasy. I held my hands tightly around my face, trembling until the sensation stopped; and although I didn’t want look, I opened my eyes.

I blinked several times, feeling disoriented at first, but quickly understood I was inside my home, standing in my bedroom. Before me, my husband and I lay asleep, unaware of the world around us. A sense of dread filled me, deep in my belly. I wanted to wake myself up, but I didn’t know how.

Wake up! I cried, but the sleeping bodies before me didn’t stir.

That’s when I heard it — a terrible cracking sound outside the bedroom window. Before I could react, the sound grew louder and was quickly followed with a tremendous thud and crashing noise inside the master bedroom. I turned away, cupping my ears to avoid the terrifying sounds.

Suddenly, it was silent again.

“No, no, no, no!” I yelled as I dropped to my knees, trembling. A seventy-five-foot pine tree had crashed through our master bedroom, straight through the center of our bed. The sight stole the breath from my body.

My eyes filled with tears as I cried, “No, Father. This can’t happen!”

Suddenly, the dream was over. I found myself awake, shaking, weeping, and extremely confused. I was in my master bed. My husband was sleeping soundly next to me. My home was intact. No tree had come through our roof or across our bed. We were safe.

There were three days left before Hurricane Michael could be at our doorstep, assuming it stayed along the same path it was threatening to take. I quickly thumbed through my smart phone to the weather app tracking the storm. No change. The storm was still heading North, but the forecast models appeared to be drifting slight West towards us.

Many thoughts swirled through my head. We had a friend coming from Texas to stay with us for a few days while she sold her house, and it looked like the hurricane bearing down upon us would arrive the same day she would sign her paperwork. What if she got stuck in town, unable to get back home to Texas for days or weeks? Losing power and water at our house was a certainty if the storm touched us at all. Should we stay in town? Should we evacuate? Should we go to my parents’ house? Should I convince them to leave too? What about elderly family members? It was all very overwhelming as the imagery and emotions of all I had dreamed played in my head over and over again on loop. Fear tried to take hold, and all I knew to do was pray.

“Father, turn this storm another direction. Fling it into the sea away from everyone, or drive it into open fields. Move it far from our town. Protect us. Your Word says You hear the cries of your children. Please hear me.”

In response, the Holy Spirit reminded me God is in control:

Matthew 6:25-34 TPT – “This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For that is what the unbelievers chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

As I continued to pray, a sort of righteous anger rose up within me. It seemed the nightmare might be the Enemy or my own imagination trying to scare me into cowering and giving up authority in the spiritual realm, but I know our words have power in Jesus when we directly speak to things that try to come against us. Therefore, I spoke directly to the storm in a forceful whisper (trying not to wake my husband): “Go away! Dissolve! You can’t come here! May you be pulled apart like Hurricane Irma! You aren’t welcome here in Jesus’ name!”

When my husband woke up, I told him about my dream, including the tree that came through our roof. Surely, if a pine tree that size crashed through our home and into our bed, it would kill us where we lay.

We believed and agreed the storm would not hurt us if we asked our Father to cover us. Why else would I dream such a horrible thing if not to intervene? So we prayed. We prayed over our bedroom, every doorway, every closet, our kitchen, and our living room. We prayed for the large pine trees in our backyard and commanded them to remain strong and rooted. All the while, the Weather Channel in the living room displayed warnings across our television that Hurricane Michael was suddenly projected to reach a Category 5; and we were still potentially in its path.

Over the next couple of days, I experienced a mixture of faith, hope, and fear. I believed God would protect us, but the human side was still afraid. I kept seeing the dream in my mind as if it had actually happened in real life the way I saw it. Every time I saw the images, I prayed for God to move the storm, not just for us but our whole community.

The next day, a Wednesday, the storm hit. It wobbled unpredictably slightly to the right and to the left before the eye of the storm made landfall. My family and I sat huddled around the television, watching the storm. I was thankful my friend had gone back to Texas and was out of harm’s way. We stayed with my parents in case we needed to help each other for the next few days if we lost power.

I felt an odd peace, knowing although we were totally unable to control of the storm, the One who could control it knew exactly what would happen and where it would go. It may be a scary next few hours, days, or weeks ahead; but He was with us. I knew we were going to be okay, despite the fear constantly pulling on the deep thoughts in the back of my mind.

The next few hours were dark and noisy. The wind blew erratically and harshly. The trees bent and cracked. Limbs fell to the ground, roof, on the backyard fence, and across the neighbor’s cars. We lost power. We lost cell phone service, but our safety was never an issue.

When it was finally safe to travel across town once the storm had mostly passed, we made our way back home. The neighborhood was a mess. There were trees and yard debris everywhere. It was exactly what I dreamed. I tried to be brave and held back tears as we drove towards our home. Were our neighbors okay? Would there be a tree through our bedroom?

As we pulled into the driveway, all looked amazingly well with our home and property. It was a surprise to be honest. I almost expected a tree through my bedroom, but God is better than my fears and expectations. Nothing had damaged our home, and our neighbors were okay.

The next morning, my husband and I visited our house again and stood at the back door, watching the final lingering hurricane winds gust through the trees, when we noticed something we hadn’t seen before — a seventy-five-foot pine tree at the back of our yard, the very one that fell in my dream, had pulled

up at its root system and was leaning. It had fallen uphill (our bedroom was directly downhill), away from our house. Somehow (only God), the tree was securely nestled into the branches of a neighboring tree, keeping it from hitting the ground. The only threat posed now was damage to our fence and our neighbor’s fence. I was blown away. It was a true confirmation that God was working on our behalf to protect us. It would have surely crushed our bedroom, straight through our bed. I was in shock.

The next days were hot and tiring without air conditioning, but I was thankful. We were protected through it all, and we knew it. We learned as we

gained connection back to the rest of the world that we had missed a direct hit by the terrible center of Hurricane Michael by only a few miles. The areas that were directly hit were coastal towns. Many people had lost everything they had in the storm. My heart broke for them. It was difficult to see the images of devastation without wondering why they weren’t spared, and we were. But I know God’s heart weeps with us when we hurt and cry. A tragedy to us is also one to Him.

As I reflect on Hurricane Michael, I mostly remember God’s goodness, the kindness of neighbors, and the heroism of the first responders and linemen during and after the storm. I am still processing the grief and the chaos and especially my dream, but it was a clear reminder of the One who is always in control even when things look most uncertain. I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me.

If you’re facing a life-altering event or wondering if God sees you in the middle of a storm of life, I hope this post will encourage you. He hears the cries of His children; and no matter the outcome of whatever you’re going through, you can rest assured that He has you securely held in the gentle grip of His hand.


Let Love Roar

The Dreamer, the Deceiver and the Unbeliever

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20

Does God still give gifts of apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, discerning spirits, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, tongues and interpreting tongues to Christians today? Theologians and otherstackofbibles_sm Christian experts frequently debate this subject. As a result, I decided to write a post about this question, not from an argumentative standpoint, but as a way to understand my own personal journey and remain grounded in the Scriptures. Over the years as I studied the Bible, examined the Greek, and witnessed God’s hand in my life and the lives of others, my thoughts about the existence and use of miraculous gifts has shifted.

Early in my Christian journey, I regularly dreamed of real events involving friends and family which had not yet occurred. These dreams were so startling they prompted me to engage and encourage the person I had dreamt about. As I interacted with friends about what was happening to me, I quickly learned these gifts were not considered “normal” within my Christian social circles. As a result, for many years I ignored these gifts which I often called “curses” because I did not understand them. I usually kept them to myself. At the time, I was very young, and I didn’t understand what those gifts are, why they happen, and from whom they are given (1 Corinthians 12:11).

As the years passed, I saw spiritual abuse by people within other denominations who claimed to have gifts like mine, using it as a gimmick to get money from gullible people. It became easy to distance myself from those false prophets. I already wanted nothing to do with my gifts and primarily went to churches that believed in cessationism, meaning the miraculous gifts ceased with the 12 Apostles. I convinced myself, despite my own experiences, that all people claiming to operate in the miraculous were frauds and fakes or they were fooling themselves.

More years passed. I knew doctrine. I knew Jesus saved me, but my spiritual life was stunted and without power for various reasons. Life was often distracting and difficult at times. God was real, but I didn’t see Him actively moving in my life; and at the time, I so desperately needed Him to show up.

Then the year 2012 happened. That was the year God encountered me and everything changed. He used a tiny prayer room, Spirit-filled Christians from different denominations, and the wife of the minister to physically heal me from an anxiety disorder that I had suffered from my whole life. I was healed in an instant, and my life transformed forever because God heard the prayers of Brothers and Sisters that night.

As I walked through the days and weeks that followed, the transformation in my life became more evident. I wanted others to know what Jesus did for me. Most of all, I wanted other people to be free. If he did it for me, I knew he’d do it again for someone else. However, as soon as I shared my testimony, I met familiar resistance. Many people around me didn’t know what to think of my story. Some try to argue that God didn’t use that night to heal me, but it was tough to disagree that I was not the same person. What really happened to me?

Soon after being healed, I moved to a non-denominational, charismatic church and witnessed believers and non-believers become healed from cancer, injuries, mental oppression, and illnesses. I also met other

Drawn for me by a lady at my church (a stranger at the time) who didn't know my story, but she said felt like God was saying He was making a beautiful flower from the ashes.
Drawn for me by a lady at my church (a stranger at the time) who didn’t know my story, but she said felt like God was saying He was making a beautiful flower from the ashes.

Christians who prophetically dreamed like me. Suddenly I was normal and ordinary which was comforting.

Experiences are great, but they can be deceiving. I appreciate them because they provide valuable perspective, but what do the Scriptures say about the miraculous gifts? The best answer I can give you is “read your Bible.” His Word is my litmus test. To settle the issue in my own heart once and for all, I researched many verses and dissected them in their original Greek. Some of the verses I reviewed were:

  • Acts 2:17-18 a reference to the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in Joel 2:28-29 stating God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in the last days [Greek lexicon]
  • Acts 4:10-16 the Apostles were identified as being sent by Jesus and performing miracles in His name and under His authority
  • 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 the gifts of prophecy and tongues are temporary [Greek lexicon]
  • 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 – the gift of tongues signifies that salvation is available to gentiles (also see Isaiah 28:11-12)
  • Romans 8:24 a possible connection to the “day of perfection” in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 [Greek lexicon]
  • Ephesians 2:20 a reference about the gentiles being included into the family of God upon the foundation of previous apostles and prophets. This verse is often used to state that apostles and prophets are no longer needed because Jesus, as the cornerstone, completed the Temple of the Lord.
  • Ephesians 4:11-13 Gifts and offices of the Spirit including apostles with a little “a” [Greek lexicon]
  • James 1:25 This passage talks about the perfect law has already come to compare it to 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 and Romans 8:24 [Greek lexicon]
  • Hebrews 2:3-4 Apostles (with a capital “A”) were identified as those who had been with Christ and performed signs and miracles in His name [Greek lexicon]

I hope the verses above help you come to your own conclusions, because after all the research I’ve done, I have decided the answer to whether or not God still regularly gives these gifts is not definitive. Phrases like “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless…but when the time of perfection comes, these things will become useless” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, emphasis added) and “[Miraculous gifts] will continue until we all come into such unity in our faith…” (Ephesians 4:11-13, emphasis added) are not easily discernible. What is the “time of perfection” and “unity in our faith”? Do these passages refer to Jesus when He walked among us, or maybe they refer to when we die and we’re united with Christ? There aren’t clear answers to these questions, and the Greek fails to define these verses in enough detail. And what do the experts say? That answer also varies depending on whom you ask. What now?

At this point, I pray. I ask God for wisdom. I ask Him for discernment. I examine my experiences with a critical eye. I ask myself if those experiences have been tested or can be tested (1 John 4:1-3). Do the experiences proclaim the Gospel and point to Jesus, or do they simply exalt a person? If they do not point to Jesus, they are not from the Lord.

No matter what stance you take on this issue, it’s not the primary focus of our lives. That designation is reserved for Jesus alone. I hope this post encourages you on your faith journey.

In His love,