In a recent interview, I was asked what inspired my leadership and vision forministry. Some thoughts that came instantly to mind were impactful words I’ve heard from key influencers as well as things I’ve learned from my dad.
· “Anyone God uses significantly is always deeply wounded. On the last day, Jesus will look us over not for medals, diplomas, or honors, but for scars.” – Brennan Manning
· “God’s testing—however it comes—is not to break us but to remake us.” – Bob Hoskins
· “Your deepest life message will come out of your deepest pain.” – Rick Warren
These individuals, and many more, have taught me that there is much potential in a cloud. Some clouds threaten jarring thunderclaps and fierce lightning bolts. Others produce a deluge that barrages you into cowering under shelter for protection until it slows or stops.
And although we all know that storms can be rough, sometimes we fail to recognize that the water from those downpours penetrates the ground and ultimately brings forth life. My dad gave me that perspective. In doing so, he taught me to look for the clouds. Because therein lies great potential for vision. For testing. For growth.
I never asked God to send me clouds like cancer, eye problems, financial woes, ministry dissent or spiritual attack on me and my family. But looking back, it’s been the really loud storms in my life that have almost always produced a vision and brought about the greatest growth in my life and ministry.
In 1988, two weeks after my first child was born and while Kim and I were preparing to head for a missions post on the Ivory Coast, I woke up unable to see. Doctors determined that I had one detached retina, and another about to detach; there was very little they could do but attempt emergency surgery.
A year later, after six surgeries and grueling recoveries from each, I realized that this “storm” of blindness was meant for me to be able to “see” something. It was during this hellish year that I learned to trust Jesus, to have faith in what I could not see—literally or otherwise—and trust in God alone.
This storm, which caused me to huddle in darkness waiting for healing to come, was watering the realization that engaging every child and youth with the Gospel was God’s vision for my life. This vision had previously been forced out of my purview and into my blind spot as I was racing toward a foreign mission field.
So when the storm clouds gather, instead of asking “Why?”, my Dad taught me to ask another question; I ask “What?” I ask for a vision and look for what beautiful thing God wants to grow after a downpour of any trial and tribulation.
What have you learned from the storm clouds in your life or ministry?
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Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God. Harper: SanFrancisco, 2000. Print.
Hoskins, Rob, Hope Delivered: Affecting Destiny Through the Power of God’s Word. Passio: Lake Mary, 2012.