When the Emotional Tsunami Hits

The Japanese man clings to the rooftop of his home, adrift ten miles out to sea. The tsunami has swept his house and his wife away, and that bit of roof is what is keeping him alive. Miraculously, after two days tossed about by waves, he is rescued.

I have never had to overcome anything physically and materially as challenging as Hiromitsu Shinkawa faced. But I have had some very heavy blows in life. We’ve been talking about “how to deal” when life blindsides you and you are nearly destroyed by an emotional disaster. After the first key – Don’t Panic – the second key is this: Find the Rock.

God as a concept can seem overwhelming. It is difficult to think of Him in “manageable” terms – in a way our brains and hearts can understand. When someone tells you to “trust God” or “turn to God” in hard times – how do you know what he (God) is thinking? Do you cry out to him in desperation (as we have all done) saying, “Please God, please God, help me?”

And then what? Do you hear a reply? When your emotions are in turmoil, does he seem inaccessible? God’s Word, though, is always beautifully and easily accessible.

When life blindsides me, I cling as tenaciously to the words God speaks to us as Hiromitsu clung to that rooftop. Those words are my Rock, my stability. I read them, pray them, repeat them… and feel my spirit regain its strength.

Index cards have been a great tool for me. I carry them with me for easy access. When anxiety or fear starts to creep back in, I can pull out the verses, read them, resist the negative emotion and move on with my day.

Below are some samples… I highly recommend you make your own set of cards. Hold tight to the truths found in the Bible. They will keep you from drowning.

How to Deal

Ever get hit by something unexpected? A sudden setback, an abrupt souring of a  relationship, an illness that snuck up and pounced, a long held dream smothered without warning?

It’s hard to deal, isn’t it, when something blindsides us? I think it feels so wrong because these instances come with no warning, no margin for transition, no time to “get used to it.” They feel merciless, and they give us emotional whiplash.

So, how do you make it through without having your spirit broken, or losing the essence of who you are?

Here are a few touchstones I have found helpful in surviving these stealth attacks from life:

Don’t Panic
I always remember something Rudy Giuliani shared. He said that his father taught him:
“My father, when I was very young, used to say to me, ‘If you are ever in an emergency, if you are ever in a fire and everybody gets very excited, very emotional, then you become the calmest person in the room.'”

Find the Rock
In order to be calm, and – very importantly – stay calm, you have to know you are standing on a very solid rock. God is my Rock, and his words to me are beyond comforting. They literally give me physical, emotional and spiritual strength. There are key Bible verses that have made me strong.

Use Your Lifelines
You shouldn’t go through these shaky times alone! In a wise way, ask for help. I believe with every cell in my body that prayer works. There are people in our lives put there strategically by God. They have been gifted with the right words to pray for us!

In the next few posts we can talk more about these points… In the meantime, I wonder how others cope? How do you deal?

Training on Lake Nottely

God is wonderful in how he balances our training! Books and seminars are great…
Real flesh and blood humans that have survived overwhelming odds as leaders are even better!

We were not able to attend the second day of the Leadership Summit, as we had long ago scheduled a visit to friends in Georgia. A Ukrainian pastor and his family were also visiting… we spent rich time with them as our children splashed and explored on the lake.

Nic was a pastor of the underground church in the former Soviet Union. He has since founded several churches, including some in the States. He is replete with the Holy Spirit and immense joy. He has known immense suffering. He unfolded more of God’s character for us as he told us about his experiences walking with Jesus.

Stories of persecution under the KGB were not new to us – Peter in fact spent some time at a mission station in Finland, where our teams helped prepare packages of Bibles to smuggle into the Soviet Union.

Yet how intensely in the “now” we sensed the presence of the Lord as we soaked in His ways… sitting on a boat in a lake in Georgia (the very day another Georgia – across the globe – is engulfed in conflict), our children fellowshipping over muddy, glittery rocks!

He told us of miracle after miracle of healing and deliverance. Of having to ask God specifically at what hour to meet and where, so as to avoid arrest. Experiences of believers at diverse starting points, walking miles in the woods and asking God where to go, unexpectedly meeting up with other groups in the same remote area of the forest – miraculously brought together by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And more.

Stories new generations of believers need to know about. God has not changed.
Nic and Svetlana are simple humans, as are we all. And as humans, they reminded me that being massively overwhelmingly in love with God, and diving headfirst into His work, regardless of opposition, are the truly indispensable qualities of great leaders.