Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Lightning


A couple weeks ago, my hubby showed me a video of a truck driving along a street. From the open fields on the other side of it, I'd guess it to be in the Midwest. Truck's just driving along, when wham! A fork of lightning comes searing down and hits the truck. Not the telephone poles, not the building that the security cam is attached to. Not the highest point in the area. The truck.

The people were fine. The truck...not so much.

As I watched that video, it hit a nerve. I used to be terrified of lightning, of storms. So sure that it was going to strike my house, catch it on fire (the real phobia), and devour me. I was known a time or two to go hide under the blankets when a thunderstorm rolled through. I knew that those blankets wouldn't keep me safe. But they provided a barrier. Insulation. Comfort.

Even today, when the phobia has been forgotten and I enjoy a good rousing summer storm, some of the old instincts are still there. A couple times recently I've been driving home during a storm severe enough to send my phone chirping with tornado or flash flood warnings. A couple times, I've been watching the clouds for swirling motion or lightning when I pass through the forests along my road and hit the open stretch where the farm fields take over.

And each time, I can't help the feeling of vulnerability that hits me when I'm out in the open like that, in a metal cage of a car, with the storm clouds overhead. I'd blame it on the video, but the experience actually came first, LOL. I feel exposed. In danger. I press a little firmer on the gas pedal and head for the tree line. It feels safer there.

But it isn't. I know that. Well I remember the lessons as a child that say that in a thunderstorm, do not take shelter under a tree--trees are the things most often struck by lightning, and you could be putting yourself in danger by being under them when branches snap off from the surge of electricity. I know it--but it's counter-intuitive.

It feels safe. It feels better.

But that feeling is a lie. And the truth is, we can't totally predict what lightning will do, where it will strike. It's a force of nature. Not always the highest point. Not always the metal.

It's got a life of its own, it seems. One a lot like life. Troubles don't strike where we expect them to either. Stress and controversy and attacks don't always come from the likely source. But come they do. And they leave us smoking and sizzling a lot of times, wondering where that came from.

It's human nature to seek shelter in the things that feel safe. In our friends. In our family. In a good book. A warm blanket. In food. In a crowd. In our anger.

But those are just the trees. They provide a feeling of shelter...but they're not.

Shelter is in the shadow of His wings. But here's the thing--it might not always feel like it. Because to go before God, we have to lay our souls bare. We have to make ourselves vulnerable. We have to go before Him on the plain, where there's nothing else to overshadow us and distract from us...and that's scary. We're afraid it'll hurt. We're afraid of what it will cost us.

We're afraid His lightning will strike us...or at least that His light will make us too aware of our failings.

We serve a God who sends the wind forth from His treasuries. Who makes lightning for the rain. Who makes the earth tremble and the seas to swell. We serve a God who puts His finger on the smallest amoeba. Who strokes the wing of a butterfly. Who cares about our every little worry.

His infinity stretches both to the vast and the infinitesimal. To the storm and the slightest breeze. The lightning and the lightning bug.

He is our shelter, and it isn't deceptive like that forest I want to hurry to in a storm. He's true. And though our feelings might make us hesitate, though that shadowy whisper might say it will be too hard, too painful, we're called to trust in Him. Yes, He might ask something hard of us. But we can trust it will be for our good.

We can trust that He is in control. That he knows where every bolt of lightning will land. And that He can tell us when to seek the fields and when the trees. When to stop and when to go. He has it all in His hand.

And He has us there too. Whether we feel it or not.

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