In the Wake of the Storm

img_2323At some point that evening I went from being exhilarated by the fierce summer storm raging outside, to fleeing in fear to the only windowless room in our home. I huddled with my husband in the dark while the wind roared and shook the house as if it were too close to a speeding freight train. Finally sensing a lessening in the storm’s clamor, we cautiously crept out to witness the utter chaos left in the wake of its violent tantrums. Broken tree limbs and debris littered the lawn, but worse was the uprooted cottonwood tree stretched like a slain giant across our crumpled fence into the yard behind, barely missing the neighbor’s house.

In the following days as we cleaned up the wreckage from the storm, I mourned the loss of the cottonwood tree. On hot summer days we used to rest in our lawn chairs under its cool shade, lulled by the lyric rustle of its leaves in the breeze. It had been a green sanctuary to myriads of birds which we enjoyed watching splash in our nearby birdbath. Our grandchildren once climbed the lower branches, safe in its woody embrace. Now an ugly stump was all that remained, and empty space where once a friendly giant stood.

My husband took a more pragmatic view of the loss of the tree. He saw how its absence allowed more sunlight to reach his vegetable garden, especially the rows closest to the fence which always did poorly for lack of light. We observed carrots and parsnips gradually flourish with more sunlight to strengthen them.

In her book, “Roots & Sky”, author Christie Purifoy writes, “God does not erase our losses, those empty places in our lives, but He does something almost more miraculous. He fills the loss with a sign of His presence.” Losing a tree cannot compare to losing a loved one, or a marriage or a part of who you are, but for me it was a picture of how loss opens up room for a new work of God.

There was a time in my life when I lost everything I had ever feared losing; my marriage, financial security, health and family unity. In the midst of these devastating losses, I could not imagine a future when all would be made new, even better than before. But God could. “His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of.” (Eph. 3:20 TLB)

God takes loss and turns it into abundance. In the ashes of my pain, I discovered the abundance of God’s love, His perfect character and His always faithful promises. When life left me hollowed out, He filled the space with His own presence. As I discovered, this is God’s specialty, giving beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isa. 61:3 NKJV)

In the equation of loss becoming abundance, He uniquely illustrates for each of us His supreme renewal project, the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24 NIV) He was speaking of Himself as the Seed, abused, crucified, buried in a dark tomb. Then the Seed came bursting forth alive, His resurrection beginning a great harvest of souls for God’s kingdom. Death gave way to life. Decay became deliverance.

A mighty tree once stood in my yard where now there is just a weathered stump. However new light floods a healthy garden where many seeds now flourish in abundance. In our memory’s landscape, the scar of a loss does not need to be a place of pain forever. It may be remembered, even mourned, but more significantly, it is a landmark telling where God met us and how He brought restoration and renewal out of the darkest places of our world.

Valerie Ronald and scriptordeus 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie Ronald and scriptordeus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Here in winter, the days seem to finish before they have barely begun.  I wake to a frozen world, stark trees immobile in iron-hard earth, all swathed in layers of snow. The only movement is ice crystals glittering in pale dawn light. Before I know it, the blue twilight hour creeps in and it is time to draw the curtains. I find it hard to imagine this same earth green with life, birds flitting through leafy trees, the scent of flowers carried on a warm breeze. It will happen though. In the timeless rhythm of the seasons spring will come to thaw and warm and cause new life to grow. And so I am reminded by each new day, each new season speaking the word — Resurrection.

Jesus Christ did not just appear to be dead after His crucifixion; He actually died and was buried. Then the stale air of his sealed tomb was stirred by an intake of breath after three days of stillness, the whisper of a burial shroud discarded on stone.   

Resurrection. The act of rising from the dead; the state of one who has returned to life. “I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified,” said the angel to the women at the tomb.  “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” –  (Matt. 28:5-6  NIV)

I hardly dare to write the word, it so fills me with awe. But I need to be reminded, as my God well knows, so He revives the day after the death of night. In the depth of winter He suspends life then stirs the sap to run again in spring. He causes a kernel of wheat to fall to the ground and die so it can generate many seeds.

So why am I confounded by the necessity of my fleshly self dying to the things of this world so it can be resurrected to a life gradually being conformed to Christ? I am not speaking of salvation, my rebirth given me because of Christ’s sacrifice. This I will never lose or need to do over. It is my permanent position — a never-to-be-abandoned child of God. But every day, death is confronted. Death of greed, death of anger, death of envy, death of carelessness. I have the choice to give free reign to these sins, acting as though I am still in the grave of my old nature, or to step out of the already opened tomb into the fresh air of a renewed life with Christ.

“If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him,  then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust— to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit.  Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.” – (Eph. 4:23 The Voice)   

Resurrection. There is pain in the death throes of my old nature grasping for a chance to assert itself. Sometimes it will win a brief skirmish, but the final battle is already won. I am unbound, like Lazarus — the grave clothes of sin stream away from the warm flesh and pumping blood of my new nature. I hear the voice of Jesus call me, “Come forth!” And I go to Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.