The door slammed shut! The wind rattled the window, desperately trying to get in, as if it were looking for somewhere to hide. I opened the door. Outside the branches of the trees danced like energetic children pulling kites of heavy, dark clouds across the sky. I shivered. It looked more like a winter’s evening than a summer’s afternoon.
A blinding flash streaked across the sky, momentarily slashing open the leaden sky. Followed by another and another. It looked like the flashing blades of some fantastical sword fight between two giant unseen and unknown opponents. In the distance I heard the deep growl of thunder. I started to count the time between the lightning flashes and the thunder. One, two, . . . ten, eleven. At least two miles (or more than three kilometers) away, if the old calculation was correct: the number of seconds, divided by five, gives the distance. One, two, . . . eight, nine! It was getting closer. One, two, three, four! Like a rampaging bull the thunder grew in ferocity and frequency.
A ground-shaking roll of thunder overhead sent lightning sizzling across the sky in all directions, bursting the ballooning clouds. Rain came tumbling down, hopping, skipping, and jumping as it hit the sun-hardened earth, dissolving the hot humid air.
The thunder peals rolled incessantly, making the murky sky seem increasingly menacing. The outside night sensor lights flashed on and off. A fork of lightening sizzled across the sky, lighting up the world before once again we tumbled back into the chaos of the storm.
* * *
Thirty minutes later the sun shone in a pale blue sky. The wind had gone elsewhere. The only trace of the storm was the rapidly drying pools of water on the path.
* * *
Life’s storms cannot be avoided. They come uninvited, crashing into our well-ordered lives, turning them upside down. A few people weather them well. Others are totally destroyed. The outcome is determined by where we find shelter as the storm rages around us: do we rely on our own strength or look to Him who has promised never to leave us. The lightning flashes are really glimpses of the Power and Light behind the storm. Our guarantee that there is One stronger than the storm and that He will bring us through.
* * *
Lord, the storm clouds are gathering. The day is growing darker and the winds are beginning to blow. Once more I find myself in the shadowlands, feeling lost, unable to see clearly where to go. I throw myself on Your mercy. Holding fast to Your promises of peace, protection, and comfort. I remember and recount the innumerable times You have shown me Your unfailing love, and again my heart is filled with hope and joy! I will lift my voice in praise to You, my Creator God: the One who counts the stars, measures the mountains, yet also counts the hairs on my head and knows my every weakness. Good Shepherd, hold me, Your frightened sheep, in Your arms, and gently carry me through the storm.