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I worked my way through college as a lifeguard, pool manager and swim coach. One thing lifeguards learn early on is to "read the weather." Besides watching over the swimmers in their charge, lifeguards scan the skies looking for ominous clouds that may produce lightning. Lifeguards eventually become good weather forecasters and can see a storm coming in time to clear the pools and keep swimmers safe.

The Bible tells us that we, like lifeguards, are to scan our lives looking for storm clouds. Jesus chided the Pharisees for being able to predict the weather but missing "the signs of the times."

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Sometimes storms are easily seen in the distance. The sky darkens and the clouds build. The wind picks up and you can sense the impending storm. The same is true in life. Through a chain of poor choices and wrong decisions, storm clouds gather. You feel distant from your spouse. The kids are unmanageable. Work becomes so stressful that you are self-medicating just to make it through the day. You are sleeping less and eating more. You've stopped praying. Church is just a thought.

When you see those kinds of storms coming, stop what you are doing and get help. You don't have a lot of time, but the storm hasn't hit yet and with swift action and good godly counsel those kinds of storms can often be diverted from slamming into your life.

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Sometimes storms come out of nowhere. No warning. No obvious signs. The routine checkup with your doctor becomes the day your heart drops to the floor with an unexpected diagnosis. Just one telephone call can turn your life totally upside down with news that instantly crushes your spirit. All it takes to radically change your life and the lives of your family is to have someone — who you don't even know — texting while driving.

When those sudden, unpredictable storms hit, cling to the One who calmed the storms with just a word. Cast your entire being into the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, the Rock that can outlast any storm of life.

No matter what storms may come, predictable or sudden, Jesus will see you through. It will be hard. There will be dark nights of the soul. But Jesus understands. He knows the language of tears and will carry you all the way until the dark clouds pass and the sun shines again.

The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at pastor@herefordumc.org.

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