Two years ago, I taught a lesson entitled, “Changing Landscapes,” at the first annual “We’re Gonna Make It!” women’s conference. The lesson was based upon the many different storms and trials we all face within our lives and how they can compare to Earth’s many different storms. Geologists and meteorologists say that there are approximately 2,200 storms happening each day across the globe. That is a lot of storms; some stronger and more intense than others. As we all know, storms typically consist of dark boisterous clouds, strong winds, lightning, rain, and hail. Stronger storms occurring over land can suddenly turn into swirling tornadic activity. Storms developing over earth’s warm ocean waters can turn into fearful tropical depressions and even fierce hurricanes. Then, there is the most powerful storm of all; the dreaded and fearful Tsunami that results from massive earthquakes below earth’s surface or beneath the ocean’s floor. Depending upon the strength and size of a particular storm, damage can occur; including the loss of lives. Typically, we can see impending storms brewing on the horizon. Who hasn’t been outside somewhere to suddenly see dark, looming clouds approaching? Then, the wind picks up, the trees begin to sway back and forth, the sounds of thunder rumble across the darkened skies, followed by streaks of intense lightning piercing through the darkness like fire-works on the fourth of July. A storm is hitting. After smaller storms have past, there might be no damages to repair or we might only need to go outside and pick-up a few fallen branches scattered here and there, along with replacing the lids on the trash cans. Depending upon your personal circumstances, you might even need to pick up a few lawn chairs blown around the yard or beach balls and floats that were tossed out of the pool from the winds. Nothing major; thank goodness. You just know that a smaller storm has blown through your life; and fortunately the damage was slim to none. Then, there are those storms that carry with them stronger winds, damaging hail, fiercer lightning, and even flooding. Now, these storms can cause moderate to severe damages. These type of storms can result in your needing to call your homeowner’s insurance company to assist with the cost of repairs and damages. Instead of branches tossed across the lawn, larger trees have fallen down with some landing on rooftops, fences, garages, and even automobiles. The damages are more intense and more costly. Then, there are those storms that bring about massive destruction of both property and lives. These types of storms usher in what I like to call, “Changing Landscapes.” Several years ago, when our daughters were younger and into their teen-age years, my husband and I rented a condo from a friend that I worked with for many years at school. Each year we couldn’t wait for our week’s vacation to take place on the sunny beaches of Panama City Beach, Florida. After you have been to a place or location for several years in a row, it begins to feel a little like home away from home. You get used to the environment, the shops, the restaurants, and the landscape. That’s how it was for us with this vacation spot. Only, one year a very strong hurricane had hit the area where we stayed and it brought about intense property damage and change. That year, we could not stay at our favorite spot. A few weeks later, we drove down to Florida to see the damages that so many people were talking about. As we turned onto the road leading to the condo, everything had changed. Roofs were missing, gas stations closed, restaurants damaged, and some hotels and homes completely destroyed. But, the one thing that caught my eyes immediately were the changes in the landscape along the beach. The beautiful sand dunes that once garnished the ocean view were all gone; flattened. The lovely sea-oakes that once stood strong were washed away by the floods and the wall of the hurricane. City workers had come in with heavy machinery to plow away the debris that now rested upon the once peaceful, white, sandy beaches giving a new contour to the shoreline. New concrete was being poured everywhere you looked as a reminder that the foundations of so many establishments had been simply washed away and vanished; gone forever. The scenic pier where my husband, daughters, and I had walked so many, many times was now gone; washed out to sea by the raging currents of the turbulent waters. Nothing looked the same. And, even today if I compare photos taken before the storm to those taken after the storm, evidence of all the changes can still be seen. Our lives, at times, are so much like these storms. Some storms and trials leave us a little shaken, but with a few simple adjustments we return to life as normal; back to how we know it. However, when stronger, more intense storms, or even a Tsunami, hit our lives they can, and often do, change the very land scape, core, or foundation that our lives are built upon; nothing is the same anymore. After these storms hit, we can’t go back and rebuild our lives because the foundation has been destroyed and washed away by the pain and grief we have encountered. What do we do then? Do we salvage what we can, then move on and try to rebuild elsewhere? These type of storms and trials bring about change and new direction into our lives. We can’t go back; there’s nothing to go back to or to go back for. Storms of this type of nature usually bring about tragic losses within our lives; the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or career, the loss of a friend or friends, the loss of good health, the loss of finances, the loss of a divorce, the loss of a church or an affiliation to something you once held very near and dear to your heart. Loss. Severe losses of this nature tend to cause us to have to rebuild in a new environment where the landscape that we once called our life has suddenly; sometimes without warnings, changed so drastically that we can no longer recognize who we are; or who we once were. Storms that change the landscapes of our lives can take months, years, or even a life-time to recover; some never do. But, as we face storms and trials in this present life, some fortunately only mild, we can have the blessed assurance that it NEVER storms in Heaven and one day there will be a new earth where no storms will ever be present. In Heaven, there are no looming clouds of darkness, no strong gusty winds, no intense damaging lightnings, or no tornadoes, hurricanes or tsunamis to change the landscape of our lives. The Bible teaches us in the Book of Revelation, chapter twenty-one, that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth; “for the first heaven and the first earth (under the current curse from the fall in the Garden of Eden) were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Did you see that? NO MORE SEA! Without a sea there can be no storms! Yippee…Praise the Lord. No more overdrawn bank-accounts, past due bills or foreclosures, no more doctor bills piling up, no more grandchildren having sicknesses, cancer, or leukemia, no more parents or in-laws dying, no more aunts, uncles, or cousins passing away, no more husbands or wives weeping over one or the other at a grave-side, no more bosses unfairly firing someone or terminating their contract, no more children dying, no more wars or rumors of war, no more racism, no more diabetes, lupus, heart and kidney disease, or brain aneurysms. In all; no more changing landscapes. See, I tell you, “We’re Gonna Make It” to the other side, even though we do suffer at times through many different storms of life. Yet, we have the blessed assurance of God’s Holy Word. And, when we do finally all make it to the other side, we will forever be without storms in our lives. “And there shall be no more curse…” Revelation 22:3. Like you, I don’t want to die today, or have one foot in the grave as the old saying goes, but when I do die I want to go to that wonderful place where there will be no more curse or storms or landscape changes in my life. Today, take comfort that if you have a loved-one who has already passed to the other side, living now with Jesus, he or she are in a place where their landscape will never change again! Their storms and trials in this life have forever passed away, and they are forever living in that Holy city that we can call “storm-less” Heaven. I also pray that if you are going through a storm right now in your own life that you will call upon Jesus to help you through the storms of life. Whether they are milder or stronger storms, only Jesus Christ can provide, and will provide, the life-boat of Grace needed in this life to survive and to one day cross over to the other side where the landscape never changes! Amen.
Remember, God Loves You!
Lin T. Rollins, Author