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More Than a Cover

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (The Message)


I have previously shared with you the journey God has taken me on from fear of circumstances to faith in Him.  In fact, a few months ago He prompted me to write about the latest journey and offer it in a short book.  As with all things in life, it usually isn’t a straight line from “A” to “B.”  There are many twists and turns when learning a new way of life, and letting go of long-held fears isn’t an exception.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time has experienced my fear of winter weather. I know…you’d think I was raised down South or lived somewhere sunny with moderate temperatures but no, I live in the heart of the midwest and every year, without fail, winter rolls in with a vengeance, usually from October until sometimes April or May.  So, you’d think I’d either be used to this weather by now or I would be over my fear.  No.  I can’t even pinpoint exactly when the fear started.  I’m guessing, though, spinning out of control on a highway in a blizzard, stopping facing the opposite direction with a semi two feet from my compact car didn’t help my anxiety. Nevertheless, every year winter rolls around and every year I panic, just a bit.

Naively, I thought I would be better this year. God brought our family through so much during the summer and fall of 2013, I figured why would I be scared of something trivial like the weather? We had survived bigger obstacles by God’s grace, so why should I be afraid of snow and ice? Nevertheless, I found myself panicking during the first real snowstorm.  This time, I did what anyone who had grown closer to their Heavenly Father would do.  I sat down with Him, read His promises from His Word and then talked to Him.  I committed my family’s safety into His hands, thanked Him for what He has already done and what He is going to do, and then went to bed.  I even reminded Him that He doesn’t want me to worry so to please fill me with His peace instead.

I ended up sleeping all night long, with no trouble falling asleep and when morning came I saw the storm hadn’t been as bad as was predicted.  Despite that, I still was periodically anxious throughout the day. I continued to give my fears over to God and began working.  My eyes were drawn to the cover of my book, Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith, and it was then God reminded me the background story behind the cover.

Last fall another huge storm was predicted.  This time there were tornadoes, massive power outages, and lots of destruction throughout the Country.  A friend of mine in Illinois texted me pictures of the trees that toppled on their property, thankfully sparing buildings and people from their destructive path.  She stated, “Thank God we’re safe and so is our house…it’s headed your way.”

The news had been predicting this storm for days and so my anxiety had time to increase in intensity.  Even though as a family we took precautions, I kept praying and asking God to please spare us.  We didn’t have anything extra to deal with destruction or damage or loss of power – emotionally, financially, or physically.  I already felt battered by circumstances…anything more would have put me at my breaking point. I remember praying and asking God to keep the storm away from everyone, realizing I was selfish when I asked specifically to be spared.  I remember apologizing for that selfishness but asking nevertheless.

I wish I could say that after I prayed, a peace filled me and I was able to enjoy my Sunday afternoon, not worried at all about the storm or any damaging effects occurring.  Nope.  I tried to look calm on the outside, but inside I kept up a steady line of communication with God.  “I’m sorry that I’m scared, God, I really do trust You, I just can’t take one more thing right now.  Please keep our family safe, our friends, everyone.  I know it’s not about me, but if You would please show me grace, I would be so grateful.”  I was far enough in my journey of faith to know God wants my honesty and let me tell you, I was very honest.

We managed to stay busy as it grew darker and darker outside.  We had headed downstairs, a mixture of things we needed to accomplish and me wanting our whole family together.  About an hour later, my husband had gone upstairs and he called to me to “come look.”  I came up, dreading something terrible, only to be rewarded by the most gorgeous sky ever!  It was as though God was saying directly to my heart, “Not only did I spare you, child, but look at the gift I’m giving you as well.”

It was my husband’s idea to capture the images on camera, the colors changing every few minutes.  It was one of those breathtaking pictures that was used by freestyle25 to create the cover for the book about our journey from fear to faith.  I take no credit for the cover of the book, but it’s a daily reminder to me of God’s graciousness.

Does this mean that if our family had been one that was without power or had suffered damage in the storm that God loved us less?  No.  Does it mean that we’re special somehow because we were spared from the destruction of the storm this time?  No.  Does this mean that our family will never have an accident in the wintertime?  No.

It does mean, though, I can trust God to take care of us.  I truly believe had we suffered damage in the storm, God would’ve provided the finances for any necessary repairs.  I also believe that if we suffer an accident while driving in the wintertime, God will again come through.

What it means to me is this: All good things that come to us are through God’s grace.  We don’t earn them, we don’t deserve them, they are gifts from our Heavenly Father when we need them the most.  He knew I was close to my breaking point and He chose instead of allowing another learning experience, an opportunity to rest.  He also used the threat of that storm and the beautiful sky afterwards to remind me once again that He’s in charge of the details.  He knew I needed that reminder more than I needed another lesson.

Does that mean I’ll never again be challenged with fear? Again, the answer is no.  But I do know that each time fear threatens to boil over inside, I have many past blessings to remind me of who’s in charge.  And as I focus on Him, the fear lessens to a mere whisper.

Cheri Swalwell


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