CHATHAM CHAT | ANDY CLAPP

Facing life’s storms: pastor authors new 40-day devotion

Clapp shows how hurricanes, meteorological storms can parallel the storms of life

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North Carolina pastor and author Andy Clapp’s debut novel, “Midnight, Christmas Eve,” was released last October, winning the Foundations Award at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in two categories — Contemporary Romance and Screenplay.

His new book, “Eye of the Storm: Withstanding the Fury of Life’s Storms,” is a devotion examining 40 storms of life and equipping the reader to stand in the storm and emerge stronger in life and faith after the storm passes. He uses hurricanes from the past to show how meteorological storms parallel the storms of life, and demonstrating that the power of God can help us through those storms — including those financial, emotional and anxiety-driven storms.

Clapp has served in ministry for 22 years and is senior pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Alamance County. He grew up in Liberty and attended the University of Mount Olive, where he played tennis for four years. He’s pursuing a Master’s Degree at Liberty University. Clapp’s publishing credits include more than 250 printed articles in a variety of publications. He and his wife Crystal have three children.

We spoke with Clapp about “Eye of the Storm.”

Your book’s release is pretty timely, coming here during hurricane season. What led you to make the decision to use a hurricane theme in writing a devotional which parallels ocean-going storms with the personal storms we all face here in life?

Hurricane Hugo struck in 1989. As a 12-year-old boy, I was intrigued by the storm and those in this area will remember how we felt the effects of it, though the landfall was near Charleston, South Carolina. Since that time, I have watched closely the storms over the past 33 years. The features of each storm are unique, as are the personal storms we face in life. The more I researched the hurricanes, the more I thought about

The devotional includes the stories of some hurricanes many of us in N.C. will remember. How did you tie specific storms to specific life challenges?

I looked at the conditions. With Hurricane Fran, I stayed at Mount Olive College (now the University of Mount Olive) to ride out the storm. When the rage of the storm hit, I truly began to doubt we would make it through as the town took a direct hit. I tied that experience in with a storm of doubts in our lives. Another example came from Hurricane Maria. Maria struck Puerto Rico and Dominica, damaging the infrastructure and cutting residents off from those on the other side of the island. That devotion centered around loneliness and how we often feel cut off from others at times in life. Some of the storms we experienced in North Carolina that I included in the book include Dennis, Floyd, Hugo, Florence and many others.

As a pastor, how do you counsel those you know about the way we can be strengthened by the experience of a storm?

Our faith is never really tested when the skies are clear and the waters are still. Where our true faith is seen is when we are in the middle of the storm. So often, we learn more about ourselves after the storm and develop certain strengths as a result of a storm we endure. We say we could never get through certain situations until we are faced with those situations and get through them. We get through a storm and we find we have built up endurance, which helps us get through the next storm. Storms give us perspective, which changes our lives and strengthens our gratitude for the little things in life. Going through a storm brings out what we never believed existed inside of us because those attributes were never tested before. The storm teaches us, most importantly, how to rely on the strength of God rather than only relying on our abilities. We develop a greater appreciation for God when we see how He gets us through the storms of life.

Can you share a story about a storm you’ve faced — hurricane or otherwise — and how it impacted you?

For years, I battled a storm of depression. The struggle began in high school and continued in college. This was a lifestorm that shook everything in my life. By 1998, I truly felt I had no value. In December of 1998, I decided to end my life, but by the grace of God, He intervened and set me on a new path.

When I was ready to die, He gave me new life. Where I felt I had no worth, the Lord taught me how important I am to Him. Depression robbed me of any joy I could find in life, but that was the point where the Lord became my joy. The storm transitioned my outlook on life, not for a season, but for eternity. I truly found a purpose coming out of the storm.

Who’ll benefit from this book, particularly given that it’s a 40-day devotional?

My hope is that it will benefit everyone. Every person goes through storms in life and my hope and prayer is to equip them to be able to withstand and grow in their faith. Whether it is a high school student who is struggling with anxiety or doubts, or a senior adult struggling with loneliness, there is hope. With a 40-day devotional, we set the foundation to have hope in Christ before the storm strikes so when the storms hit, we are not shaken.

Why is hope so important?

Hope is important because without hope, we perish in life. We live in a day and time where hopelessness is witnessed all around us. Hope gives us strength and helps us persevere through the storms we face. Christians have a living hope in Jesus and we need the hope Jesus provides in life. Hope pushes us to greater heights while hopelessness leaves us in the deepest valley. There is hope and that hope is available to all people.

You can learn more about Andy Clapp and his books by visiting www.andyclapp.org.

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