Those of us in the Southeast know that not long after summer begins and the heat overtakes everything under the sky, the hurricane warnings will begin.
Sometimes the storms turn back to sea. Sometimes they break into a hundred miniature storms. Sometimes they slam into the coast like a giant, out of control wrecking ball, intent on maximum destruction.
I’ve lived in the South all my life, and I’ve seen almost every iteration of a hurricane that can happen. So, when our local news began talking about a “monster” storm brewing in the Atlantic, I didn’t pay it much mind. A lot could happen. We watched and waited. We made minor preparations. We bought lots of snacks and lots of wine. We watched the news reports while eating the snacks and drinking the wine.
But the storm paid us no mind. It crept along, taking its sweet time, as if we all weren’t just sitting here, waiting impatiently for its arrival.
By the time the storm arrived, it was mostly a shadow of the former “monster” it once was.
On the day of landfall, most of us had stopped watching the projections. We were weary of all the chatter and media embellishment. I went for a walk and the day was as lovely as they come. Beautiful blue skies with the prettiest white clouds. A light breeze offered respite from the normal oppressive humidity.
It seemed as though even the storm had grown weary of awaiting its arrival. All the time it spent idling away from land, slowly determining its target, actually drained it of most of its strength. Certainly, the storm was devastating and catastrophic for many areas. But the first predictions were wildly different from the final reality.
One early evening about a week after the hurricane’s landfall, I saw a gathering of dark clouds in the distance. Within minutes, the heavens opened wide, covering the ground in rushing water. The loudest thunder I’ve ever heard filled my ears. Lightning streaked across the sky, turning the air electric. Strong winds blew down branches and tossed debris.
No warning. No preparations. No watching other than what we did with our own eyes in real-time. No waiting other than waiting for the storm to pass.
And, pass, it did, and always does. A storm just can’t sustain enough strength to stay in one place, churning with intensity, for very long.
So it is with the trials in our lives. Rarely do the storms we prepare for end up being the ones that hit us. It’s the ones that come from nowhere that knock the wind out of us.
We batten down our emotional hatches to protect our hearts, only to turn a corner and run right into the one person that broke us. We stock up on healthy habits to ward off disease, then find out that our genetics had the deck stacked against us from the start. We plan, we prep, and we worry, all in an attempt to stay a step ahead of the things that we predict will bring us down. But in the end, the worst of times we have to weather ride in like a summer storm: loud and blustery, obscuring our vision and scaring us out of our minds. All with little to no warning.
As a child, I was terribly afraid of storms. My parents tried many things to calm my fears, but what worked best was to have me count slowly between the thunder crack and the lightning flash. Each number represented a mile’s distance between us and the storm.
One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi . . . the numbers and the miles grew until all that was left of the storm was a rumble in the distance, and steam rising from the hot ground.
As an adult, storms don’t scare me quite as much. My childhood fear has been replaced with a buzzy kind of nervousness, along with awe and respect for what God can do.
Many of us see storms as a sign of God’s strength and might. I see them more as a sign of His promise. Less of Him saying to us, “Stand back and see what I can do,” and more of Him showing us, “Look here, see what you can do with Me by your side? Don’t prepare anything. I’ve given you all you need. This storm will leave, but I will still be here.”
Preparation is good, but worry is fruitless.
No one can truly predict a storm’s outcome, except to say that it will eventually burn itself out. But God’s provision is constant, and He will never leave us unprepared.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
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