This is a much longer devotional than I normally write, I hope are able to make it to the end,  it has an important message. 

I woke up today thinking about all the storms that have come through in my life and the results they ushered in. None of these storms were welcome – all of them brought fear, damage, and destruction. Some turned our lives upside down and inside out. Here in Florida, we see not only hurricanes that sometimes call for an evacuation, but some storms with high mile winds that bring extensive damage.

I can attest that during the times of my life that I needed change the most, or I needed help the most, my help came when a storm came through.

When our mortgage was very overdue because of the marriage storm, I saw no way of help. We needed a lot of money to get caught up. A storm came through ripping up our fence and pool screen. The insurance company sent us a check. We were able to pay our past due bills and get the fence and screen repaired!

Our roof was old and in need of replacing. A storm came through. A simple hail storm that brought a lot of damage. My brother decided to send his roof guy to look at our roof because I did not take him seriously that we could get our roof replaced. Well, we now have a new roof……because of a hail storm.

This has been how it’s been. When I asked God for help knowingly or unknowingly –  our help came from a storm. Sometimes I didn’t know I needed a storm, but my spirit was crying out for it, knowing things were not right. God heard my cries and a storm came through.

From the time we were married, I struggled. I had severe depression. I had serious past emotional trauma from a very frightening childhood. I tried to be happy. I even got saved and tried to be a good Christian. But I was carrying so much from my childhood that the pressure of “Now I am a Christian, I should not be broken, or under bondage” made me worse and I slipped further and further into bondage to food. My weight went over 400 pounds and I ate and slept my life away. I became suicidal and my spirit was crying out to God even though my lips and thoughts were silent to Him because I felt so ashamed. 

We moved to Florida and I tried to leave the demons and pain behind. I did a little better with all the sunshine and found some joy living here and lost 100 pounds. I found a wonderful job that gave me purpose. But I was never healed from my past and those wounds knocked down the door and I found myself deep in depression again.

A storm came through. Two hurricanes came through back to back. Francis and Jeanne. Those two storms caused our lives to turn completely upside down and some real change happened after that. One was a relationship with a woman at church that had an inner healing ministry. I finally started to get help and freedom from the trauma of my past. And started to address all the roots and strongholds those things caused – unworthiness, rejection, self-hatred. My list was long. I was in inner healing for almost a year – and – I came out differently but still was a controlling and manipulative woman following in the footsteps of my dad and how he had modeled love for me. 

Proverbs 12:15 says: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

My husband and I settled into a good life. I was on depression medication and trying to be normal. We joined a new church and the pastor took us in right away to his home leadership small group. I was dieting and losing weight. This was the best time of my life. We had a boat, family was coming to visit and…..after 18 years barren, I got pregnant with our first child!  I thought things couldn’t be better and my lips were praising God from a lukewarm place. But my spirit was crying out “save me” ………3 months pregnant, and a storm came through….

This storm last 7 years. It was unwelcome. It brought so much death and destruction. Turned my life upside down. My husband had turned into a total party boy. Staying out until all hours or not coming home. I kicked him out and went into total isolation with God. I had no one. God kept me from ANY help but my one sister that I had done inner healing with. I clung to her until God told her to leave me alone because I was not seeing myself. Not seeing Jezebel, seeing my control, my scare and manipulation tactics. For over a year, I tried hard to change my husband, while God tried to wake ME up and stop ME. My husband came home because I controlled it. But he was unchanged and unrepentant. He didn’t stop the late nights and parties, and his first real affair happened. 

That was when I really started to get afraid and see what I was doing was not working. That was the start of being on my face in repentance and taking a look at God and myself from a different perspective. I started to see this was beyond me and only God could be big enough to handle this really big problem. 

Our storm continued for the next 6 years. We had many quiet times where my husband “returned” and I saw the man I married and I returned to being lukewarm. He refused to turn back to God though and I always heard the warning that we were not restored or secure because his heart had not repented. At first, I ignored it and lied to myself. “We are safe, we were restored,” I told myself. Then I would have to endure the pain of truth as my husband fell into the snare of the enemy over and over with drinking, women, and flings.

The last year was the worst. I had pretty much had enough. I had a new baby (now we had 3) and I had postpartum depression. Even though I had endured this storm and had grown very close to God and learned very well how to lean on Him, using Him to meet my needs. I was very aware that when I said: “I love you God” –  I was lying in the sense that I was not loving Him above my husband, above my marriage and above myself. 6 years in this storm and my husband and marriage was still an idol I most definitely had a god above Him, and during the storm, the idol slipped from above and became beside Him. But it was still there. I was still lukewarm, each false start I had caused me to slip back into not needing God. 

And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Isaiah 45:21 NAS

That last year is when I came face to face with the truth. I was using God and knew I needed to change but I didn’t know how. I did know God would get me there and He did. One by one during that last year, I let go of my husband and replaced everything I needed from him and transferred that onto God.

 He became the faithfulness I needed.
The loyalty I needed.
The security I needed.
The unconditional love I needed.

 And all those other things that my soul was desperate for. One day, I said  “I love you Jesus” And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t know how or when, but it was true. I LOVED HIM more than anything else. I loved Him more than myself and my needs, my husband and my marriage. 

and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Mark 12:30 BLB

My life changed. The Word became like a love letter, written just for me. Worship music became personal and intentional and with my name all over it. I felt God in and through everything. The sunshine was for me, the birds singing was for me. God was showing His love for me in every possible way, and I was a thirsty soul who was soaking it all up. I realized these storms that came through and brought devastation and destruction to so many things I was trying to hold tightly to, were the actual things that needed to go so I could come to knowing His love, adoption, and identity.  The whole time I had been cursing the very thing that my spirit and soul was desperately crying out for.

Hear me. Why do we fear, mourn, die inside so much when our spouse leaves? Because they become our EVERYTHING. Because we have placed upon them things that are meant to belong to God. My husband was under the burden to carry absolutely EVERYTHING my soul and spirit needed as well as to be responsible for my flesh.

While God created us as one flesh, He designed us to be one in spirit with Him. Only He can carry our real needs. 

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.…1 Corinthians 6:17

My husband was my god and as he failed me over and over, it made him fall. Made me want to let him go and find a TRUE Carrier and Protector of my soul and needs.  I started to THANK GOD for the storm. I started to come out of being blind to Him, to the truth, to adoption. That last year I got to fully experience the fruit of identity and adoption. Scriptures that wrecked me were ones that told me that I was chosen. With all my flaws, ugliness, shame, He still wanted me. I had never known love like this, acceptance that told me He would be here forever and I could not make Him leave no matter how awful I was. His honesty and loyalty became my everything. To have that Someone that I could count on, trust, and be confident in was very much needed.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians 1:3-4

His visits told me He was with me and as I danced and worshipped Him at 3 am in total JOY at His visit. I was awake because my husband was missing after promising it was over. But yet, here I was again at 3 am, and my God was faithful yet!  He was with me and I entered His gates with joy and praise at my new-found love and relationships. I was overjoyed that even though my life was totally out of control, I had God. A new love, a new joy, a new security overwhelmed me. 6 years in and I finally met Him in a way that changed everything. 

It had to happen for me that way. Little by little, step by step. I knew it had not been right, I knew I hadn’t loved  Him as I should have and I confessed all the time and asked Him to help me put Him above all else and love Him fully with heart, soul, mind, spirit, body. To mean it when I said I wanted Him to have me and my life.

If I had quit a moment sooner, moved on, given up,  I would have missed out on JESUS being my BEST love. That door would not have opened. That is what this is about, pressing into Him and learning how to transfer all our human, spiritual, soul, and fleshly needs from our spouse and onto JESUS until our spouses are able to carry what they are meant to carry. A husband or wife duty, NOT A GOD duty and responsibility.

You may curse and hate this storm now. It may tempt you to quit before it completes the work it was set upon doing. But if you stick with it, endure it, and try to confess what is still not yielded to God, He will get you to the place where the door opens and all changes because a storm came through.

Standing with you in your storms,
Sheila Hollinger