A few years ago, I must have decided it would be a good idea to get weather alert notifications from Williamson County, Tennessee. And I have learned over the past few years, the powers that drive these notifications are aggressive in their approach.
Take last night for example. At 3 AM, with my phone in silent mode, a warning sound repeatedly bursts, accompanied by an ominously worded notification. A severe weather alert had been issued for Williamson County and I was advised to take shelter. I woke, read the text and rolled over. A second warning and text came 2 minutes later. I had failed to respond. This automated notification will continue to resend until it gets a response. Being abruptly awakened, I did not remember that little nugget.
But it didn’t stop there. The storm escalated, and so did the alerts! Now it was a tornado warning. Yes, this was a serious threat, so it warranted not only the warning sounds and texts, but a phone call too. Again, if I didn’t respond, experience has taught me that the texts and phone calls would continue.
Because of our recent Nashville history, I did get out of bed this time to investigate and half-heartedly prepare to make the trek to our crawl space, our storm shelter, if necessary.
It wasn’t necessary. I am extremely thankful for that!
If it had been necessary, I am certain that my view of the aggressive nature of the warnings and alerts would be quite different. My perspective would certainly be changed. But in all honesty, I am learning not to heed the excessive warnings of the weather reporters. I am beginning to view these repeated storm alerts like the proverbial boy who cried wolf. Because my personal experience has not matched the hype of the alarms, I have become desensitized to it all.
God has issued some pretty aggressive spiritual alerts as well, but His alerts are way more personal.
Matthew 18:8-9: So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Revelation 3:1-3: I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
Trust me – I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. After trying to ignore the aggressive storm alerts from last night, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that I was ignoring some spiritual alerts from Him.
I’m in the middle of struggle right now, one that God might classify as a storm. I, in the core of my being, have adopted an ungodly belief that says, “I don’t matter.” I know this is not true! I have renounced it. I have asked Jesus to remove it, and in so many ways He is healing the deep wounds that planted this lie in my heart. The problem is that I have lived with this lie for so very long, that I am desensitized to it. I am unaware of how it is “behind the scenes” driving my thoughts, my actions and my reactions.
Thankfully, God is fully aware of how this ungodly belief and my subsequent coping mechanisms are interfering with my relationships; with Him, and with family and friends.
So, in His kindness, God is awakening me to the times when this lie rears its ugly head. If I heed His first alert, I pause and pray, reciting the truths He has given me in prayer times that replace it: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have created you and formed you; you matter to Me- you always matter to Me!”
But, if I ignore the first warning, that’s when I fall into unhealthy patterns of self-deprecation. These thoughts can become a black hole of self-loathing. Self-loathing is sinful; it is saying “God, I know you made me, but what you have made is trash.” It is a total disregard of God’s good thoughts about me, His child. To combat this sin, I have to take these thoughts captive and again replace them with God’s truth: I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am so loved by God that He sent Jesus for me! To live for me, to die for me and to prepare a future home in heaven FOR ME!
This morning, God gave me another alert. It was not aggressive. It was not loud or obnoxious, but it did wake me up. God revealed that when I feel like I don’t matter, my other response or reaction is to try to get people to tell me I matter. I have a mental set of “pity cards” that I carry with me, and depending on the situation, I pull out these cards to evoke an affirming response from others.
And I had done that very thing the day before. I once again revealed to a group of friends how I had been mistreated by another person. I got the expected responses, of “that’s not true, you’re so good, etc.” But the good feelings those comments evoked in me didn’t last even 24 hours. Why? Because in my rehashing of an old hurt, I basically gave it CPR, and the lie that “I don’t matter” was revived.
How I love 1 John 1:9: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
As I confessed my sin, I did not feel God’s judgment, but rather His understanding. In ways I will never understand, God hates my sin more than I do. My sin damages our relationship, and when I finally recognize and confess it, it’s as though He celebrates! He calms the storm in me and fills me with His peace.
Thanks to God’s kindness, I have a new perspective on storm alerts. I am so grateful that though there are times His alerts escalate, it is His quiet ones that capture my attention. It is His kindness that leads me to repentance, and back to Him, to the safety of His shelter!