yet another obsession of mine
I love – and I mean crazy-love – thunderstorms. I am a self-diagnosed Doppler Dork & Storm Stalking Psycho. I don’t know if it is the danger or the drama or what, but nearly nothing gets me more excited than when I know a big storm is blowing in. Ask any of my friends – when I hear a storm is coming, I get super excited and get all my weather apparatus-es-es-es out so I can properly track it as it moves towards us. And I don’t meant to boast, but I have some serious tracking skills that would rival the professionals; the weather channel should call me and immediately put me on their storm chaser team.
We all have a “bucket list” of sorts, no? Well, if some terrible disease strikes me and Oprah wants to know what I want with the Make a Wish Foundation, I don’t need to go to Disneyland and I don’t need to meet one of my heroes (Hi Willie – we’ve already met, and reportedly, you have even used my name in a sentence; I can’t tell you how excited that makes me and how many people I have told. And hi, Jesus – see ya soon, maybe sooner if my people come thru on my bucket list.) Call this my public plea or last will and testament… I will die happy and fulfilled, only if I can first go on a ride-along in a storm chasing vehicle.
And while Kenny likes them too, he doesn’t freak out over them quite to the extent I do. Like if one wakes me up in the middle of the night, I will tiptoe out of our room and make a pallet on the couch so I can open all the blinds and curtains and lay there and just wonder at it. And if it comes during the day or early evening, you can find me at either my friend Mary’s house (who has the absolute best view,) or my friend (and fellow storm stalking psycho) Linnea’s house. Linnea and I have much in common and have had many bonding experiences over the years. But nothing connects us like a huge front that as she puts it, is “bashing and wrecking!!” outside.
We start texting each other as soon as we catch wind (get it?) that a storm is coming, and then at the appropriate time, I will show up at her house with my NOAA Weather Radio and laptop with my professional Wundermap ready. We have cell phones and Kindle Fires as backup trackers (we’ve been known to take kindles from small children to facilitate,) all loaded with various sites, and we transform her garage into a local weather station. Then we open up those garage doors, pour ourselves a beverage, and settle in for the show. And if we can’t be together for the storm, we jam up the phone lines with our texts and screen shots of Doppler Weather Radar and drive our families crazy with all our forecasting.
The bigger and more dramatic it is, the better (although anyone who knows either of us – especially the 2 of us together – would say that is par for the course. (-: ) Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want anyone to get hurt. I am not talking about these huge scary super-storms where people lose their homes or anything (I saw the devastation first-hand down in South Austin after the Onion Creek Flood and this is not the kind of storm I love.) But we do kinda love the drama of a good solid thunderstorm (nickel-size hail is a bonus.) So we freak out and storm track and let the adrenaline flow.
Kenny works in commercial roofing and I once got to go with him on a business trip to Oklahoma where a bunch of storms were all coming in at once. It was there that I saw the very best storm ever and my obsession with watching two storms collide began. Kenny just rolled his eyes reading this because he jokes that when I am obsessed with something, I will say the same one thing about it over and over and over and over again. And my storm tracking sentence is, “Oh my gosh Baby, if these 2 cells collide, then…..” I am OBSESSED with the idea of 2 cells colliding because nothing creates a better chance for “bashing and wrecking” like when that happens.
Quick meteorological lesson: Most of the time, when 2 or more storms are in the vicinity of one another, the weaker one(s) will just dissolve into the bigger one and the more powerful storm will determine the course. But every once in a while, 2 very strong and independent storms will collide and refuse to give way. And when they are all high winds and hail and moving in different directions, well…… That’s when you get the major disasters.
Kinda makes me think of my relationship with God.
God is the weather. He is the bright sunny 75 degree days, when the sun shines on our faces and the world is all peaches and petunias. He is the slow pitter-patter of raindrops replenishing the world around us. He is the mystery in the fog, the golden hue in the colors of Fall, and the hope under the frozen stillness of our Winters. But sometimes, He is also the storm.
Nothing in all of creation happens without his permission or purpose. So every storm that blows through was either sent by him or allowed by him. This is a tough concept after a deadly natural disaster hits our community. It is even tougher when one hits our lives, our family, our people. We like to think of God as good and fair and safe. As my Pastor put it, “We like the lamb-carrying, peace-sign Jesus.” And He is good, make no mistake. But He is neither fair nor safe (and the twist on that, my friends – is that we are better off for it.)
God never promised a life without storms. He just promised that He would meet us in them when they happened. (Cue the country song, I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden).
Of all the concepts in Christianity, this is by FAR the hardest to swallow. And for my non-believing friends, this is often the biggest beef they have with God. I get it completely; it is difficult to believe that a loving God would allow some of the storms we see raging outside our doors or even in our own homes. And yet He does. This is where our faith comes in and we have to bridge the gap between what we understand and what we know to be true about God’s character. And ultimately, we have to choose to believe his promise that He can and will make something good out of all things, even the very worst of things. I have doubted this but then seen it made true in my own life enough times to promise you that God is good… all the time.
Sometimes I think it is God himself in that big huge front that moves through our hearts and our lives, overturning the things we had just-so. Being a just-so kind of person, this is upsetting for me. I spend hours or weeks or years building up my little lego life just the way I think I want it, only to have God blow in from time to time and make me start all over. I get mad at him when He does it. But so often, the very best things that have come along in my life have been the result of God coming in and tearing up what I built on my own so that we could build something new together.
And when I think about the times He has blown into my life and so powerfully forced change, there were occasions that I dissolved into him and let him determine the course. I discovered how it is so very true that the calmest part of the storm is right in the center (or the “eye”) and how, on those few occasions that I crawled up right into the center of God, I weathered the storm the best.
But then I think about the times we collided. I remember (oh so vividly) those times when his front blew in and I tried to fight him back or overpower his will. I think about the bashing and wrecking it caused when I bumped up against him but refused to give way.
Fighting God’s will is like trying to thump the thunder. It can’t be done, and even if it could, it is a foolish thing to try.
I love how there are parts of God and his creation that I can’t even begin to touch or tame or tarnish. I love the bigness and powerfulness of who He is and how He is. One of my very favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. One of the characters is describing Aslan the lion (who represents God/Jesus in the book) to the children and says, ““Safe? …Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He’s not safe. But He’s good.” I think that is the perfect way to describe our God. To run a little further with that particular metaphor, Aslan (Jesus) came as a gentle, loving teacher who performed many miracles and lay down his life for Narnia. But folks, He was still a LION.
And while there are times that I will fight him at the first of it, I love feeling small and tiny and powerless and just being awed by what He can do. I love that God is still a LION and the King. And I love (the most) the blessing to have learned that even in the most violent storms, He is always present and He is always God.
So to me, storms are a great reminder of that power. And while my poor little weenie dog will shiver under her mound of blankets many nights over the next couple of months, I will track and text and forecast as usual. But then I also hope I spend some time just marveling at the majesty of God and thanking him for bashing and wrecking my just-so little life, so that we can build something new together.
Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder?
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” ~ Matthew 8:23-27 NLT
what storms has God helped you weather? looking back, what change did God blow into your life that felt like bashing and wrecking? did you crawl up into the center of who God is or did you try to thump the thunder? how do you feel about the concept of God not being safe, but being good?
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