Updated: May 25, 2020
In a book called Highways to Happiness, C. L. Paddock wrote about a road trip his family took together. They could see a storm in the distance but expected nothing like what came. As they made the 150-mile journey, the wind broke the trees, blowing them into power and phone lines and across the road. As Paddock made his way around the trees, he noticed that every tree the wind broke was also rotted or hollow inside, lacking the strength of the healthy trees that had remained standing.
People are like trees that way. During calm times of life, a person may be deficient in many ways but remain standing. But the storm always comes. The storm reveals weaknesses, deficiencies, and rottenness of character produced by unholy ventures into sin. Men and women who have stood firm for years are brought low by the exposure of their shortcomings. From this point, my thoughts diverge in two directions.
First, as a Christian, I must continue considering how to imitate God’s character. It ought to begin inside and reach to the outside. In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” The process of sanctification begins on the inside. Then, the character that is changing on the inside gradually works its way outside, creating holiness in every behavior. If I am to withstand the storms of life, my holiness must be more than an empty shell.
Second, God is the only permanent fixture in life. Everything and everyone else will fail sometime, somewhere. If I build my life around someone other than God, the storm will topple me like those rotted trees. I need an immovable fixture around which to build my life, and God is the only One who fits such a description. He is, as stated in Revelation 22:13, “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” In every place and time, God is. He is the only dependable fixture around whom all will find stability and strength.
Make God the center of your life and continue letting Him change your character to match His own. Then you will enjoy stability, strength, and the ability to withstand the storms life brings. Along the way, you will influence others to do the same, to their eternal benefit.