Trusting God

A Broken Heart

What good is a broken heart? That’s what I wondered as I looked down at what was supposed to be our family’s special Valentine’s Day dessert–a rich chocolate cake, so gooey and sweet that it needed no frosting.

I had carefully followed the recipe. I had blended the batter and poured it into a heart-shaped baking pan. But I must not have done that ‘grease and flour pan’ part well enough.  While it cooled on the counter after baking, the cake looked flawless, but when I turned it out onto a plate, it broke apart, with a jagged, crooked, crumbly crack right down the middle. Well, I thought, I have broken my own heart. That’s a new one. Usually, other people do it for me. Now what do I do? What good is a broken heart?

The answer soon came to me. A broken heart is priceless. It guarantees special intimacy with the Father Who promised special closeness to any brokenhearted child. It holds the soothing balm dispensed by the God of all comfort’a salve that then can be distributed to other wounded souls.

And a broken heart is an always-suitable gift for the Savior. Just as ancient worshippers brought burnt offerings chosen from what He had provided ‘day by day without fail,’ we can offer our brokenness back to Him. ‘Count[ing] it all joy’ in grateful submission to His will transforms any heartbreak into a sweet sacrifice, more acceptable than bulls and goats could ever be. ‘For You do not desire sacrifice . . . You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.’

What did I do with my broken heart? I mixed up a bowl of sticky frosting and used it as glue to re-attach the jagged pieces. Then I smothered the whole cake with frosting, and nobody suspected what I’d done. They did notice that the cake was extra-sweet, though–and that’s the way it goes with broken hearts, for when the Lord ‘heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds,’ He adds a sweetness that can come no other way.

Now that I know how to repair a broken cake, I’m not afraid to try that recipe again. And I’m much less afraid of trouble, for I know that a broken heart can be a very good thing.

II Corinthians 1:3-4, Psalm 51:17, Psalm 147:3

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries


Blue Blockers


My old sunglasses were scratched, wobbly, and terribly out of style when they finally died. I’d had 15 good years with them, and I was sad to see them go. Their blue-blocker lenses filtered out certain hues and enhanced others. Through clear lenses, the world was plain’even ugly, but nothing was ugly when seen through my blue blockers. Ordinary flowers had brilliant new tints; autumn colors were intense; skies were stunning; sunsets were dazzling. All I had to do to make the world a more bright and beautiful place was to wear my ‘happy glasses’!

For ministry wives, the world isn’t always lovely. We know it’s a privilege to serve the Lord, and we love working beside our husbands. But ministry can be tedious, and it can even turn ugly. We accept this and endure. We survive. But we can do better than that–we can look at ministry trials through the blue blockers of promise, and thrive.

Peering through the blue blocker of ‘My God shall supply all your need’ can help you see a financial crisis deficit as an exciting opportunity for the Lord to keep His promise of provision. When you face an impossible task, look at it through the encouraging lens of ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness . . . for when I am weak, then am I strong,’ and you will take courage.

Are you being persecuted for doing right? Then ‘rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.’ Have you endured a humiliating failure? Consider it through the lens of ‘God resisteth the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.’ Are you lonely? See in your loneliness a precious opportunity to ‘draw nigh to God,’ to enjoy the Friend ‘closer than a brother.’

When a scary ministry monster shows up on your doorstep, you can peer at it timidly through the lenses of emotion and quiver, or you can stare it down through the lenses of truth and be brave. You already own a lifetime supply of promises to ‘block the blues,’ and though they are quite old, they are never out of style. Every morning, pick out the ones that match that day’s need. Wear them all day long, and you’ll find your world a much more beautiful place.

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries


If You Knew


As far as Moses knew, his exile in Midian would last the rest of his life. If he had known it would end after 40 years, would he have found the backside of the desert less lonely?

If Sarai had known where she was going, would it have been easier to pack?

If Abraham had known about that ram already caught in the thicket, would it have been less heartbreaking to bind Isaac to the altar?

Would knowing that he would be prime minister of Egypt by age 30 have brought light to Joseph’s dark days of slavery and imprisonment?

If she could have foreseen the held-out scepter and the deliverance of her people, would Esther have wept fewer anxious tears?

If during his deepest agonies, Job could have foreseen that Jehovah would bless him in ‘the latter days . . . more than his beginning,’ would he still have wished he had never been born?

Jonah knew he deserved his slimy swim in the fish’s belly but not if he’d ever get out of there. If he had known he’d be free in three days, would the stink have been less stinky and the terror less terrible?

As far as the three Hebrew children knew, they were about to be burned alive. If they had known they’d emerge without even a singed hair, would they have entered the fiery furnace even more serenely?

As far as Peter knew, his denial of Christ meant the end of his usefulness. If he had known what would happen when he preached at Pentecost just seven weeks later, would his bitter tears of repentance have been sweetened by hope?

If the disciples in Gethsemane had known what would happen in three days, would they still have forsaken Him and fled?

If you believed that after you have suffered a while, your trials will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you, would you find it easier to trust the God of all grace? If you believed with all your heart that your circumstances were working together to conform you to the image of His Son, would you thank Him for them now?

If you could foresee how the story of your adventures with God would someday encourage others in their own struggles, would that bring you hope? If you could read His end from your beginning as easily as you read these Bible stories, would you be encouraged?

‘Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’ (1 Peter 1:6-8).

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries


Jumping Off Cliffs


I married a man who likes to jump off cliffs. He loves to take great leaps of faith, launching out into the unknown while trusting God alone. He lives life in bright red. Not me. I prefer beige. I prefer to stay safely behind the fence and have a quiet picnic as I enjoy the view. When I see my husband considering yet another leap off yet another precipice, it’s instinctive for me to try to reason him out of it. But once he’s certain of God’s will, I do my wifely duty: close my eyes, hang on tightly to his faith, and take the plunge, while inwardly wailing, ‘I am going to die!’

But I haven’t died yet. In fact, every time I’ve expected to drop into an abyss, I’ve experienced a gentle glide onto the Solid Rock instead, where I’ve found peace, joy, and blessing–even a picnic or two’and felt deep gratitude that I married a man whose faith stretches my own.

The truth is that the fences I think represent security are often the walls of the prison of fear instead–fear of the unknown, fear of what others might think, fear of failure. It’s that prison, not the cliff, that is the genuinely scary place, for fear keeps ministry wives, and their husbands with them, in shackles. It impedes church planting and thwarts evangelism; it prevents the launch of bold new ministries and paralyzes progress. When God’s leading becomes clear to my husband, it’s time for me to stop digging in my heels and join him in bold strides of faith, not because he is flawless, but because it is God’s work we are doing, and He’s the One Who keeps us safe.

Every day, ministry couples stand together on the edge of the Promised Land–the place of blessing that waits for those who will just trust Him and jump! His pledge is as true for a trembling wife like me as it was for the children of Israel: ‘Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid . . . for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee’ (Deuteronomy 31:6). Even a cowardly woman on a cliff’a woman like me–can be brave while clinging to a promise like that!

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries

Listening to a Liar

 I sat listening to the piano prelude and suffering from the glooms. Our church plant had been a source of heavy trials–some of the typical new-church variety, and others completely and bewilderingly new.  We were under Satanic assault, and sadly, I was more victim than victor.

Down my aisle came an elderly ministry widow who had often been my helper and encourager. She stopped for a quick hug, then looked right into my eyes and asked how I was doing. I decided to be frank. ‘I’m miserable. The devil is attacking from every direction, and I don’t know what to do.’

‘What to do? What to do? You don’t know what to do?’ Her voice rose as she stood taller, lifted her cane, and raised her big black Bible. ‘You take up your sword of the Spirit and your shield of faith, and you ADVANCE! That’s what you do!’ Then she stopped abruptly, lowered her props, smiled sweetly, and tottered down the aisle, leaving me so surprised and energized that I wanted to laugh out loud.

Of course! How could I have forgotten? The devil is no match for the One Who lives in me! I had been listening to the enemy’s whispers of looming failure and defeat, believing them true. But they were lies’the deceits of the father of all falsehood, the master of masquerade. He’s a nasty, cruel enemy. But even Satan with all his wiles is no match for one woman armed with truth and faith in the power of its Author. How foolish I had been to listen to a liar and live in defeat.

Have you been hearing Satan’s lies, too? Most ministry wives do. Is he whispering disheartening words about yourself, your family, your ministry? No matter how intense Satan’s assault, nothing can separate you from the One Who loves you, and through Him, you are more than a conqueror! (Romans 8:37).  Choose promises to use as ammunition and keep them close at hand. When you detect lies creeping into your brain, take up your sword and shield and ADVANCE!

It was easy to see that my friend was experienced at what she demonstrated. She’d had plenty of practice, for as long as she had been a ministry wife, she had been a prime target of a dangerously real adversary who’s been at this since Eden. You are Satan’s target, too, for he knows that if he can make you his victim, he will have infiltrated the home of one of God’s front-line soldiers. Your defeated spirit will spread through your family and into your ministry–and his plot will have succeeded.

But he doesn’t have to win! If a sweet little old lady with a big black Bible can be a strong (and contagious) conqueror, so can you–for your confidence is never in your own might, or your own courage, but in an almighty God Who is always at work for you, and Who, unlike the enemy, always tells the truth.

Beloved, in fighting with sin without and within, with error doctrinal or practical, with spiritual wickedness in high places or low places, with devils and the devil’s allies, you are waging Jehovah’s war, and unless He himself can be worsted, you need not fear defeat. Quail not before superior numbers, shrink not from difficulties or impossibilities, flinch not at wounds or death, smite with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the slain shall lie in heaps. The battle is the Lord’s and He will deliver His enemies into our hands. With steadfast foot, strong hand, dauntless heart, and flaming zeal, rush to the conflict, and the hosts of evil shall fly like chaff before the gale.                
Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning & Evening

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries

Storms

The disciples were doing what He told them to do’no more, no less. When Jesus had said, ‘Get into the boat, and go to the other side,’ they had obeyed. So when a terrifying storm began just as they reached the middle of the lake, they must have been as bewildered as panicked. What was going on? Why would Jesus send them out onto deep water knowing that just as they reached the farthest point from safety, heavy wind and waves would threaten their lives, no matter how hard they rowed and how fast they bailed? Two tempests raged that day: one on the sea and the other in their hearts. I don’t know which was worse.

I have never been in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, but I have felt like they must have felt. At one memorably low moment in church planting, I complained to my longsuffering husband, ‘This is a very strange way for the Lord to treat people who are just doing what He told them to do. Where has He gone, and why has He left us here to die?’

I was repeating the disciples’ mistake (and maybe yours) of believing that I knew what God was doing with us. At Jesus’ command, the disciples took off rowing, assuming that His goal was for them to arrive at the opposite shore. But His plan instead was to teach them some important lessons. He directed them right into the storm to prove that He is the Master of tempests. He planted them in the middle of the tumult to demonstrate that He would always, eventually, come walking on the water.

We had embarked on our ministry believing we knew what God was planning to do–that since He had called us to build a church, big numbers, large offerings, and continual victory must be in His plan. But God’s definition of success was not the same as ours. He wasn’t just building a church; He was building us. His construction tools included storms that made no sense to us but perfect sense to Him. We thought that our trying circumstances were hindering us from accomplishing His purpose, but they were His purpose, for His concern (as always) was not our comfort or success, but our character.

The disciples eventually reached the other side, but when they arrived, they were different people. The Lord did build our church, but by the time the steeple was in place, the ministry couple inside had been thoroughly changed. All that bailing and rowing had made us stronger and softer. Our spirits had grown sturdier as we learned to distinguish His face even in the murkiest skies, and we had become much more compassionate, with our ears tuned to the cries of other sailors floundering in other gales.

A storm is a stressful, scary place for disciples in a little boat, but when they are there at His direction, there’s no better place to learn from the Master.


Matthew 14:22-33
With thanks to Oswald Chambers

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries

Strawberries

The berries are ripe! The sweetness of a strawberry warm from the patch brings back happy memories of summer mornings spent making jam. I’d roll out of bed early to drive to the U-Pick farm. As the sun rose, I lifted dewy leaves to find the crimson fruit hiding in their shade. Every berry was a treasure. Despite my aching back and stained sneakers, I’d drive home singing, berries carefully cradled against bruises.

I’d set them on the kitchen counter and declare them the best ever. After savoring a few sliced into cereal, I’d dump the strawberries into the sink and drown them. I’d twist off their green wigs and slice them with my sharpest knife. I crushed them, smashed them, boiled them. I sealed them in jars and boiled them again. Poor berries. I’m sure they were bewildered. First I had treated them like treasures, and then I brought them pain and misery. But without the crushing, smashing, and boiling, they would rot. Unless I tortured them into jam, they would soon be useless.

Suppose one strawberry had decided to flee the pain, creeping out of her basket to cower under the toaster oven, hiding in the darkness while her sisters met their awful fate. A week later, when I moved the toaster oven to wipe up crumbs, what would I find?

A rotten strawberry. Moldy, maybe. Useless, certainly, and doomed to the disposal. Poor berry. She didn’t understand that I wasn’t being a bully; I was making the berries useful–a blessing to my family during the long winter ahead. I, the jam master, could see her future. I wish she had trusted me.

But I understand that poor scared strawberry, and sometimes I act just like her. The Lord sends me pain, and I run from it, crying, “What’s going on? What are You doing? I thought You said You loved me. I thought You said I was precious to You. Why are You treating me like this?” It’s easy to forget that when He sends suffering, He is just making me useful, preparing me to be a sweet blessing to others in their winter seasons.

If you are being cut, crushed, and smashed, that just means He loves you enough not to let you mold and rot. He is making you useful. Don’t run away screaming. Yield to Him. He’s the Master, and He knows what He’s doing.

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries

Sweetness

‘You’re so sweet!’

The lady who said this to me meant it as a compliment, but I wasn’t flattered. ‘Sweet’ meant syrupy and maudlin, sort of slushy, mushy, and squishy, and at that time I’d rather have been called capable, competent, or clever. I am wiser now. Now I long to be sweet, because that is to be like the One Who gave Himself ‘an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.’

But such sweetness, I have learned, comes from sacrifice and brokenness. The sweet fragrance of the cross, after all, rose from death. When I take up my cross to follow Him, I can expect to die, too. But I don’t die easily, and I expect you don’t, either. The only way for either of us to become sweet is to let God do it.

First, I must present myself to Him as a living sacrifice. That’s no great gift, for ‘in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing.’ In my natural state, I’m more like one of those weird substances that perfume-makers collect as bases for expensive scents–odious, disgusting raw materials like ambergris (I’ll spare you the nauseating details). He accepts me, though, stinky as I am, and then goes to work making me sweet.

That process requires brokenness. In the perfumer’s lab, herbs, flowers, resins, spices and aromatic oils are cut, chopped, ground, shredded, crushed, heated, boiled, separated, evaporated, clarified and concentrated. The beaten and broken ingredients are then proportioned carefully and blended skillfully into the base until the final product conforms to the master perfumer’s ideal of perfect perfume.

And so the loving Master stirs into my days a precise medley of difficulties, sorrows, disappointments and heartbreaks, adding them gently and in right measure until I am conformed to the image of the sweet Savior, Who Himself was ‘stricken, smitten of God and afflicted . . . wounded for our transgressions . . . bruised for our iniquities.’

Only God can make me sweet, but if I let Him, He will’not so that others will praise me, but so that believers and unbelievers alike will detect in me the sweet scent of Christ. As I diffuse His fragrance in every place, He’ll get the glory, not me. And the next time somebody tells me I’m sweet, I still won’t be flattered. I’ll be grateful.

 Ephesians 5:2, Romans 7:18, Isaiah 53:4-5, II Corinthians 2:14-16

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries


Waiting for Jesus


Why did Jesus make them wait so long? They were His friends. He often stayed in their home, and we’re plainly told that He loved them. Martha had served Him to exhaustion and Mary had sat adoringly at His feet. How strange then that He should respond so slowly to their cry for help! They had been sure He would come running when with the confidence born of closeness, they had sent Him this simple message: ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’

But Jesus, only a day’s journey away on the other side of the Jordan, postponed His coming. When He arrived in Bethany four long days later, Lazarus was dead and buried. His sisters’ gentle rebuke revealed faith blended with disappointment: ‘Lord, if You had been here, our brother would not have died.’

I’m not sure I would have been so composed. I know my impatience and frustration during waiting-on-God situations, even when the issues are far less crucial than death. I find it terribly hard to handle Hid delays when I believe with all my heart that I have prayed in His will, that the answer would be for His glory, and especially when it’s His work I’m doing.

‘Why not?’ I ask the Lord. ‘I know that You can, so why don’t You? What are You waiting for?’ Prayers that seem unheard and unanswered are my greatest test of faith. I suspect that I’m not alone in this, and that other Marthas and Marys of the world, when filled with more pain than faith, ask the same questions.

The problem is not with my eagerness for an answer or with my disappointment at His delay, but with the wrong conclusions I reach as my mind travels down a twisty trail of doubt. Maybe, I fret, He’s too busy with more important people and issues to listen to me. Maybe my plea went unnoticed among all the other cries for help. Or maybe He did hear but doesn’t love me enough to answer. If I’m going to be ignored, I guess I’ll just have to solve this puzzle, unravel this mess, fix these broken people all by myself.

Martha and Mary must also have felt ignored, coping with grief while Jesus deliberately stayed away. The truth is, of course, that they were not forgotten by the Lord for a single second, and neither am I. But sometimes He asks His children to wait, for His own good reasons. My purposes in prayer are often selfish–to have my problem solved, my pain relieved, my need met–but God’s purposes are loftier than mine. He will work out His superior plans if I’ll just wait.

Waiting enhanced the sisters’ joy when the long-delayed answer came. Their brother’s healing would have delighted them at any point, but coming as it did after every other resource was exhausted, after hopeful hours by his bed had ended in days of weeping at his tomb, their joy must have been overwhelming–enough to abbreviate the wait in their memory, and certainly enough to increase their faith marvelously when the next crisis came.

And I suspect that Martha and Mary’s wait also purified their motives. Probably their prayers, as mine often do, began as pleas for immediate relief and gratification. But as the days passed, maybe their desires became centered more on personal change: on asking God for grace to accept His will, whatever it was. Perhaps they even reached the ultimate selflessness in prayer–inviting God to glorify Himself even at the price of their pain. That’s what happened to another scripture sister, Hannah, who began by praying for a child to satisfy her maternal yearnings and escape others’ taunts. As time passed, her prayers were purified into longings for a son to give ‘unto the Lord all the days of his life.’

God’s glory was increased by the delay in Bethany. Since Lazarus’ body had been decaying in its sealed stone crypt for four days, no one could doubt that he had been thoroughly dead. This was no trick; there was no natural or circumstantial explanation. Since only God has power over death, Jesus was proved to be the Messiah. The delay confirmed the miracle, and the miracle’as miracles always do–brought God glory.

Why did Jesus make Martha and Mary wait so long? Not because He didn’t care, for when He arrived, He wept with them. His delay was for their good and for His glory, and surely for one more very satisfying reason–so that you and I, while coping with His delays, can remember their story and have hope.

Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries


Roller Coaster Life

(Today’s Monday Morning Club is by our daughter Stephanie Shaw, pastor’s wife at Maranatha Bible Church in Glenford, Ohio)


Three-hundred and ten feet straight down. Ninety-three miles an hour. Shimmering water below; blue sky above. I swallow my fear, trusting the safety bar to hold me and the roller coaster to stay on the rails. I am a whirling, screeching seagull, joyful and free.

This girl who spends so much of her life holding back is letting go for a few minutes of sheer exhilaration. That brief moment of hovering at the pinnacle, then plummeting to the bottom, has become my touchpoint, the place I visit mentally when I am about to take another leap of faith in my personal life or ministry: if I can do that, I can do anything!

Fear and love define my life. They are what I feel when I get the call that a daughter has died suddenly and my preacher-husband needs me to go straight to the home to ‘check on’ the parents. Fear that the mother will not receive me well or that I won’t know what to say. Love, when she immediately takes me into her arms and apologizes for burdening me, since she knows I have already been through so much this year, losing four family members in six months. I am touched that she cares, even as she is doubled over by her own fresh grief.

I feel fear (and pain) when people tell us they are leaving our church family. ‘This church is not loving.’ ‘You don’t give me enough attention.’ ‘You take too weak (or strong) a stand on _______.’  It’s love I feel when a deacon thanks me for sharing so much of my husband, even though I need him, too. Love, when someone takes the time to thank me for a Sunday school lesson or a solo, or calls to see if my sick child is okay, or when anyone seeks me out as a friend and not just as a pastor’s wife who might be able to meet one more need.

Sundays can be full of fear, since I cannot control others’ reactions to our ministry. If I could, I would filter all my husband’s words so he would never offend or be misunderstood, and I’d make the congregation willing to always assume the best. I would inoculate myself against pain when that thoughtless woman bruises my spirit, again, with her sharp tongue. 

That desire to protect myself from hurt is motivated by fear. I don’t fear death, but I do fear pain. On the roller coaster, I’m not afraid I am going to die–I am afraid the train will leave the track and I won’t die, but be maimed for life instead. In the same way, I fear the energy-draining emotional pain that comes with ministering to needy people. I just cannot spend time loving a broken soul without carrying some of her sorrow away with me.

However ‘there is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.’ God’s love in me allows me to rise above my fears to reach out to others. His faithfulness gives me the confidence to try new things. If I never loosen my death grip on the safety bar, never take my hands off my life, I will never know the freewheeling joy that comes only from perfect trust in the One Who Will Not Let Me Go. That is freedom, and that is life.

Copyright 2010 – Press On! Ministries

Damage

Of the thousands of prospecting phone calls we have made while planting churches, it’s the one I remember best. To my question, ‘Are you actively involved in a local church?’ her answer was a curt ‘No.’ I followed up with, ‘We are mailing out information about a brand new church. Would it be okay if. . . .?’

She broke in, her voice cold, ‘I am a damaged ministry wife. Church is NOT in my future.’Click. The line went dead. She had hung up on me. I know I should have called back to offer to talk, to listen, to do something’anything–to help her. But I didn’t. I just didn’t know what to say.

She came to mind recently when I heard a weatherman offer advice about preparing for an approaching hurricane. ‘Remember,’ he said, ‘damage is easier to prevent than to repair.’

To every ministry, storms come, and (praise be!) they go. Most are fast-moving local squalls, but some are more like hurricanes’terrifying monsters that threaten major harm and seem interminable. There’s no way to avoid all storms. But you can prevent the kind of heart damage that had scarred the lady on the phone.

Of course, when you see a storm building, you could always evacuate’leaving the ministry for some easier way of making a living. But that doesn’t sound like you. You are committed to serving Him by loving and leading His sheep, no matter how ornery. So you stay put and face whatever comes. Good for you! Instead of abandoning your post, you and your husband hunker down with emergency supplies: the solid truths of God’s loving sovereignty and the old familiar promises of the Word that shine so brightly in the dark. You secure the shutters of your faith, hang onto each other, and ride out the gale on your knees, knowing that He has allowed it to come, will limit its scope, and will bring it to an end.

It’s too late for me to call that lady back, and sadly, even back then I suspect it was too late to help her. Damage is easier to prevent than to repair. But you have time to get ready. Stock up on truth–now. Store up His promises in your head. Hide them in your heart. They will sustain you no matter how sudden or long the storm. When the skies finally clear, you’ll emerge to fresh, sweet peace in your world and in your heart. You won’t have merely survived; you will have grown into the maturity of faith that comes only from seeing God prove Himself true. And the next time you see scary thunderheads rising, you’ll remember that

The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
                                               –William Cowper

May many joyful, storm-free days of serving His church be in your future!