Monday, May 04, 2020

share the umbrella

if it was raining, either a steady sprinkle or a torrential downpour, and we were walking outside in it, if we had to walk a long distance weathering the storm, and if i had an umbrella and you didn't, if i was staying dry and you were soaking and chilled, i promise not to look you in the eye and tell you IT'S OKAY TO GET WET. 

i would share my umbrella with you.

i know what it's like to be out in the rain without an umbrella. i know it's okay. it's uncomfortable, but it's temporary - the rain always stops eventually. i'm not going to melt. i'll be okay. i know that. 

but if a friend with an umbrella saw me getting drenched in the rain, it would not be super encouraging if she said in passing, "hey eryn it's okay to get wet," and then she went on her way all dry and happy.

yeah, i know it's okay, but will you please share your umbrella? 

i see this happening right now. not with umbrellas and rain, but with faith and fears.

i see people shaking, afraid of the unknown, discouraged, stressed, uncertain, anxious, lonely, losing sleep, on edge, angry, frustrated. like they're stuck out in a torrential downpour. 

and i see friends not sharing their umbrellas. i see friends saying IT'S OKAY TO FEEL THAT WAY. and going on their merry way with their faith umbrellas strong and intact.

sharing the umbrella is offering real, genuine encouragement to a friend in need. it's sharing truth, joy, peace, and comfort. it's okay to feel that way can leave a friend feeling empty and cold. when my faith is built up, it's not just for me. it's so i can encourage others in the faith, as well.

"it's okay to feel that way, and let me share some of God's promises with you." 

"it's okay to feel that way, but have hope, sis. God's got you."

"it's okay to feel that way, but don't be afraid. God is here."

"it's okay to feel that way, but remember how faithful our God is? He'll never abandon you."

i'll share my umbrella - my faith - the very thing that is keeping me protected from the elements. i won't enable you in your weakness, i'll encourage you with my strength from God. i can identify with you, but i won't let you claim that place in the storm as your identity. i'll remind you to surrender to the Lord, not to the storm. 

i might even remind you that you have your own umbrella, actually. (2 peter1:3-4) because maybe you momentarily forgot God's promises and you just need a loving reminder that He is still on the throne and He still has a good plan for your life? maybe just seeing me and my umbrella reminds you to grab a hold of yours? can i remind you that you had an umbrella on Sunday morning, on Easter Sunday, and around Christmastime, maybe you left it there?

and, friend, beware of trying to use fake umbrellas. beware of trying to fake your way to happiness, or confidence, seeking and striving in all the wrong places. peace and joy is only found in Jesus. it's okay to be seen in the rain and ask for help. there are plenty of friends with umbrellas willing to share and help you find yours. and i guarantee someday i'm going to forget my umbrella and i'll need you to please share yours. 

and if we are both standing out in the rain, and neither of us have umbrellas? we need to find someone who does, ASAP. take my hand and let's get out of the rain together. let's seek our refuge and safety! (psalm 91) let's get with believers who will encourage us in the faith and let's get into God's Word immediately! as soon as He hears our cries for help, He answers us and leads us in His perfect peace. (isaiah 30:19-21)

staying afraid and caught up in our circumstances together does neither of us any good. sitting there getting rained on, even if we're together, doesn't make it any better. it's still miserable and uncomfortable. relating to each other in the rain isn't enough to get out of it. commiserating in our weakness is exactly where the enemy wants us. two or more gathered in the name of anxiety. no thank you. i don't want to stay in the rain, afraid, alone, unsure, bitter, complaining. and i don't want to leave you there, either.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." -Romans 12:12

if you have an umbrella, share it.
if you need an umbrella, find one. don't stay in the rain.

if you are encouraged by the Lord, if you have hope, and faith to see beyond the circumstances, share it. (1Thess5:11)
if you are feeling discouraged, hopeless, and fearful in the circumstances, surround yourself with believers and seek Jesus. there is grace for you, girl, but please don't stay in those feelings. process them in prayer, get in God's Word, and fellowship with friends who will encourage you.

one of my favorite memories is from one time when i was at disneyworld with my family. we had just started our day at epcot and it started to rain, like possible hurricane-type rain. as i ushered my family underneath an awning to assess the situation, i noticed something: people weren't panicking. they were getting their ponchos and umbrellas out of their backpacks, sharing them with one another, and going out into the rain to continue their magical time in the happiest place on earth. i saw strangers huddling under porches, making a place for others to squeeze in out of the rain. IT'S OKAY TO GET WET, BUT HERE, YOU CAN TAKE SHELTER. 

imagine if we all shared our faith and built one another up with promises of God when our friends were caught up in fear and feelings! our faith isn't just for Sundays and good days and counting blessings, friend. our faith is also for storms and pain and challenges. it's for sharing hope. it's for being light. it's for speaking life.

"I don't want fair-weather faith. I want resilient, bold faith that is deeply rooted and secure...We pray for belief that He can calm the storms. And even if He doesn't, for belief that He will not abandon us in the downpour." 

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
-Isaiah 43:2