The storms of life

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In March 2018 much of the UK experienced widespread freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. For Sue and Andy (members of Grace Vineyard) they had no idea that the impact of that storm would be felt for the next 12 months.

(GetSurrey.co.uk – image: Lennox Herald)

As part of her regular time with Jesus, Sue keeps a journal. Here are extracts from the last year which show God’s faithfulness and goodness in what was a very challenging time…

March 4th 2018
Andy and I have been staying at our friend’s house for a few days. Yesterday we were due to come home, but before leaving we got a phone call from our daughter Sarah who said we had a burst pipe and our house had been flooded.

God has given us his peace, even though every room has damage to some extent. Amazingly the water has skirted around things of value, including paintings, photos, models and books.

Amazingly the water has skirted around things of value

The main verse on our daily reading notes yesterday (and Mark mentioned the same verse at church today) was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

March 18th 2018
Andy and I are sorting out the house, because at some stage we have to pack up and move out after the flood. I came across this poem.

I am
“I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking. My name is I AM.
He paused; I waited; he continued:
When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there:
My name is not I WAS.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I Will BE
When you live in the moment it is not hard.
I am here: my name is I AM”.

At the end of the sheet were two verses:

  • Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”. My friend Carol had also shared this verse with me yesterday.
  • Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
    This verse had also been read out at a prayer meeting this morning, plus I had read it myself earlier in the day. It confirmed to me that God is in control, we need to take each day as it comes, and we can trust in him.

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’

April 5th 2018
We are still waiting to move out of the house so that stripping of the walls, carpets and ceilings can take place. We are trying to be patient, as it keeps on being delayed. God is in control. One advantage of staying at home longer is that Oscar our cat can be here, before he is shut away for a few months. The following verses came to mind: Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight”.

April 7th 2018
There is another delay in our moving out, due to the quote for moving and storage of furniture being too high. A friend from church sent me the verses from Proverbs 3:5-6 about trusting in the Lord. This is the third time these verses have come up in two days.

April 11th 2018
We have moved out of our house and are staying with Jo and Mike from church. We moved yesterday. Andy went home after work to find that all they had done today was strip the small bedroom wallpaper. All the de-humidifiers and fans had been turned off. I was furious and didn’t understand why they have been turned off. I prayed about the situation and realised I have to commit it to God and leave it in his hands.

A verse from Philippians 4:12 says, “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” I need to trust God and be content in our current situation.

May 28th 2018
Someone went into the back of Sarah’s car two days ago and there have also been problems with our computer working. Andy is feeling a bit overwhelmed at everything that is going on. We read Psalm 46 together.

Psalm 46:1-2: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”. Our house being flooded and Sarah’s car probably being a write off are like the earth giving way. They are both things that don’t last and we can only put our trust in God. Verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”.

‘We will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea’

Selwyn Hughes writes, “Just as the moon cannot be reflected on a restless sea, so God cannot impress himself on an unquiet mind. Many of the prayers we utter are shot through with egocentricity. If we took the time to still our minds in God’s presence before we prayed, the whole centre of gravity of prayer would be shifted. In the stillness the prayer itself may be corrected, for God not only answers prayer, but corrects it to make it more answerable”.

June 27th 2018
I was at work and there was a phone call asking me to call my plumber urgently, as water was pouring through the new kitchen ceiling. I contacted my plumber who said he would sort it out, but there was nothing else I could do apart from commit the situation to God. During lunch I focused on Philippians 4:4-7 about rejoicing in the Lord and not being anxious about anything. Verse 5 says, “The Lord is near”. This reminded me that God knows about the situation and is in control. Our plumber was able to sort out the problem.

June 28th 2018
We have had some of our windows double glazed. When we went to look at them yesterday the fitter had left a terrible mess, with rubble on the conservatory roof, one of the panels had been broken and rust was on the outside wall and roof. I was reminded of Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all”. They responded immediately to the email, saying that everything will be sorted out. When I phoned I was able to speak without being angry about what had happened.

‘Let your gentleness be evident to all’

July 24th 2018
There are lots of issues concerning the house and uncertainty of when we are moving back. I asked God to give me a verse of encouragement and he did. Psalm 46 v 1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble”. Just after reading this I did my UCB readings and read the same verse.

July 26th 2018
I was unable to sleep due to the heat and thinking about house issues. In the morning Andy read the following verses from his daily office book, which I found helpful.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”.

I went on to read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

August 2nd 2018
Yesterday’s verse of the day was Psalm 55:22. I read the verse and found it very helpful, but then forgot it. I was just going to sleep and my friend Brian sent it to me again, which I found this morning: “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall”.

August 6th 2018
We moved back home four days ago. Two days ago Sarah, her husband Oliver, Jo and Mike came over and we committed the house back to God.

I am never usually off work on a Monday, but as today was Andy’s birthday I was at home. In the morning our friend Miranda phoned, saying she needed to rent a room for a few months. Andy and I both felt at peace that it was right to offer her the room. God’s timing is perfect, as if she had phoned a few days earlier we wouldn’t have been at home. It was such a blessing for us staying with Mike and Jo for four months. How can we say no to a friend who is also in need?

God’s timing is perfect…It was such a blessing for us staying with Mike and Jo…How can we say no to a friend who is also in need?

March 3rd 2019
A year ago today our house was flooded. Generally we are back to normal, but there are still a few things left to be done or re-done.

Oliver, Sue and Andy as they celebrate one year on from the flood, back in their own home

A few days ago Sarah asked whether, if we could turn back the clocks so that the flood hadn’t occurred, would we have chosen to have the flood. On reflection I said I would choose the flood. It was a difficult and stressful year and yet so much was accomplished.

God spoke to us in many ways, through Bible verses and by giving us his peace. Friends and church family were continually there to support us. It was a great blessing staying with Jo and Mike, who were an amazing example of God’s love and did everything they could to make our stay enjoyable and their home our home. We had the opportunity to decorate our house through the insurance and did extra modernisations ourselves. God gave us many opportunities of sharing our faith with family, friends and workmen. God brought along Miranda to rent with us for a few months, and she has been a constant encouragement to us after we returned home. We were also able to support her, knowing what it’s like to have to leave your home.

God gave us many opportunities of sharing our faith with family, friends and workmen

March 7th 2019
I read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which says there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. The devotional from ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’ was saying that we don’t control the seasons and that they come to us whether we like it or not.

The season of our flood was difficult and at times distressing. Looking back I can see that God had a larger picture. He used it to increase our faith in him, as we saw that he was in control. I believe that he is still using the events for his glory.

If you would like to know more about the God of the Bible, who Sue encountered as she faced the storms in her life, the one who can bring peace in moments of turmoil, please email Gill at the church office (office@gracevineyard.co.uk) or come along to one of our Sunday services.