I can hear it in stereo. One side of the sky is cracking, snapping under the pressure of changing temperatures. And now it comes from the other side, fighting for territory, growling and groaning and barking. I run to shut Max’s window, but I can’t get close enough. The yard outside becomes brilliant white, lit up as if the paparazzi have finally found us. Raindrops turn hard against windowsills. And I dart toward Max.
In our home we have an extremely effective storm safety protocol. First, I quickly close all the blinds so that we can’t see the lightening, then…I put on my sneakers in case we have to run, and then…I grab the car keys in case we have to drive. (I know, Benjamin Franklin might have something to say about the whole key-and-lightening safety combination.) And then Max and I both, at my request, huddle under a thick red blanket until the storm subsides. But not this time. I look closely at Max. My 22 year old is lying still in his bed. He is asleep.
I edge my way downstairs, alone in my fear, and fill my arms with flashlights. I search for my shoes and keys, rushing with the same warp speed I seem to exist in these days, dashing from one emergency to the next. I grab the red comforter, the one that shelters us in a storm, and I start back toward Max’s room. He will be awake any minute. And I’ll be ready.
I am running, breathless, tripping over the dragging red comforter, ducking with every clash of thunder, juggling flashlights already lit up, just in case. And I catch myself. It is as if I am passing by a wanted poster with my own photo on it. This is how I exist lately, rushing from one emergency to the next. Demands are booming at me from one side, and then the other, drowning out my thoughts. And I run, sneakers on, keys in hand, adrenaline pumping. I run.
But I can’t keep up.
I stand for a moment, motionless, as the thunder explodes overhead. What if I stop? I think to myself. What if I don’t give in to the moment, to the emergency, to the panic? What if I choose to be still in the midst of it?
I pause for a few moments processing this radical thought, so completely contrary to my wiring, to my reality. I breathe deeply and walk to the couch as if I am defying all of nature. Sinking into the soft cushions, I dare myself to gaze at the windows. The shades are up. I have never watched a storm without fear before. Lightening is dancing wildly outside, bleaching the color out of new green leaves and pink puffs of rhododendrons. I watch a Morse code language of light with streaks of white darting from one cloud to another as if they are passing secrets among the heavens. The sky is alive. I look straight on, and see it for all it is created to be –beauty and power and majesty. Suddenly I am in awe, not of “mother nature,” but of the Father of all creation, the Author of nature and life and circumstances. And every storm.
And I do not run.
Lord, this is so improbable, I pray with eyes wide open. Can I be so still in the height of a storm? Can You bring me Your peace in the same way that You bring me the storm?
I know the answer. I have felt it before. I’ve felt His peace in the midst of the thundering voice of a doctor diagnosing my son. I know His peace within the brilliant flashes of pain through divorce. And I have experienced God’s supernatural peace, a covering like a huge thick comforter, standing before thousands to speak at my father’s funeral service. God’s peace. It is beauty and power and majesty. It is a peace that surpasses all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)
Thunder reaches down again and shakes the house, raging at my thoughts, demanding that I run to dodge its blows. But I do not move. Instead, I lay the big red comforter over my lap as if I am lounging on the deck of a cruise ship, and I think, Not this time.