When I was a little girl I was terrified of storms. When I say terrified I don’t mean that I felt a little uneasy when I heard the distant roll of thunder. What I mean when I say that I was terrified is that I was TERR-I-FIED! And growing up in tornado alley didn’t help matters much. Needless to say from early spring to the onset of fall I was a nervous wreck. (maybe that’s why fall is my favorite season)
One spring my daddy decided it was finally time for me to overcome my fear. That spring and summer we spent many afternoons and evenings sitting on our porch watching storms roll in. I hated it. I felt so exposed, so vulnerable. I have to confess, I was really mad at my dad for weeks.
Every time a storm would start brewing he would come find me and drag me outside and sit me in his lap. I would shake and cry and beg to go back inside, but he never let me. He would simply hold me and talk to me about the storm.
Slowly my tears dried up and I moved from his lap to the chair beside him. When a loud clap of thunder would take me by surprise I would look to my dad. He always had the same expression of confidence on his face, he never looked afraid.
I started learning about storms. About lightning and thunder and how they are tied together. About the subtle colors of the sky and what they meant (green means run y’all, in case you were wondering). About the formation of clouds and what they would produce.
Never once do I remember sitting in front of the T.V. listening to the weather man talk about the many colors splashed across his maps. No, we sat under an expanse of open sky and watched the storms form in real time.
Dad taught me that storms are predictably unpredictable. That God can do what He wants, when He wants with the weather. That we need to be alert, but not afraid.
I remember two incidences specifically. The first was in early spring, a storm rolled in very quickly. It took me by surprise. Dad and I ran out in the backyard to see what the sky was up to when suddenly the clouds began to rotate. It was my biggest fear. I started running for the storm cellar when dad told me to stop and come back to him. Fearfully, I obeyed. He told me the funnel cloud wouldn’t touch down and that it wouldn’t come near our home. He was right. We stood there for about 15 minutes and watched that funnel cloud hover above the tree line to the west of us. It was amazing.
Later that month I was doing my homework when dad came in, calm but firm he said, “It’s time to go to the storm shelter.” My heart raced as we gathered flashlights (and my teddy bear) and went outside to the shelter. I hated the storm shelter, it was dark, and smelled weird and was home to lots of spiders. But as we left the house and began making our way across the yard I looked to the sky, it was green and low and still. Eerily still. I knew then that spiders were the least of my concern.
The storm raged that evening. But we were safe, sheltered from the storm. My dad’s booming voice filled the shelter as we talked about the powerful winds and rain. And there, with the storm bearing down on us, I wasn’t afraid. My dad had protected me once again from the terror of the storm.
This morning I was talking to God about the storms that are raging in my heart and He reminded me of that summer with my dad learning about the predictably unpredictable nature of storms, and the loving protection that a good daddy brings to a frightened little girl.
Life is a lot like spring in Arkansas. It’s pretty much a guarantee that storms will come. And a lot of time I find myself reacting to life much like I used to react to storms before I learned that while storms can’t always be trusted, my dad can.
In this season in my life I’m learning that lesson all over again. That my Father God can be trusted. Even in the worst of storms. That I need to be alert, but not afraid. And isn’t that the point after all? Not to survive the storm, but to learn that our Father can be trusted in the storm.
I love storms now. Nothing is as exciting as a good summer lightning show. I love watching the clouds build and swirl. I love watching the skies change color, the wind whip through the trees, the sound of rain falling. Love it!
And I’m learning to love watching life unfold. Even the stormy parts.
Because He is with me.
And that makes it all OK.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 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. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” Isa 43:1-3