I arrived at the ACFW conference a day later than planned feeling battered and beaten. I was hurting physically, emotionally, and even my spirits were on the low side. Hurricane Ike had taken a toll. Our power went out at 7:05 the night the hurricane arrived. We’d spent a sleepless night as the storm swirled over and around us. But God put His strong hands over us and protected us. I’d spent four days cleaning up tons of tree debris left by the storm. We still had no electricity the day I left for the conference. I was heading toward electricity and water. My husband and sons were left behind with neither. I wanted to stay with them but the conference and plane fare were paid for. I would be doing nothing at home except waiting for the power to come back on just like the rest of the neighbors.
What I’d forgotten in the midst of the storm and its aftermath was that God, the real power, was still with me. He’d never left and was still riding alongside. From the moment I arrived in Minnesota, I witnessed God at work, turning all my bumblings into blessings, my messes into miracles, clearing away the debris I carried with me from the storm. Each day, each hour, He lifted me higher with His great grace, proving His unending love and that He is the great Physician. He was giving so much to me and I wanted to pass that giving on to others. The high point of the conference, for me, came Sunday morning, our last time for praise and worship before the conference ended. Rachel Hauck did an incredible job, again, putting together the music for us. Each of her selections spoke of how great our God is. Each song built upon that theme like building blocks, lifting us higher and closer to our Lord. I was feeling so much love and gratefulness for my God. Then Rachel surprised me by ending with Amazing Grace…and the tears fell. God had taken me through my storm. I was filled with love and joy and wanted to praise Him as best I could.
One of the first things I noticed when I arrived home was that the trees were in bloom. Our apple tree was loaded with blossoms. How odd. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The only thing I could figure was that the storm had caused it to happen. Anyone who knows me knows I try to take situations like this and make them spiritual. So in my small, finite mind, I bring you to MY explanation for the new buds and blossoms.
The trees were battered and beaten…and they showed it. Some limbs were broken. Others were nearly bare, stripped of their leaves by forceful winds. But they had survived the storm and wanted to show it by praising God the only way they knew how. They clothed themselves in beauty.