Life can be like the thunderstorms that gather most afternoons this time of year in my area.
Vulnerability is a constant reality. There is no way to remove risk. Even trying to avoid risks is risky.
I wrote those words yesterday morning.
Around noon, puffy little cumulus clouds began to dot the sky as they do most days this time of year. Around 2 o’clock I noticed a dark cloud hanging off to the south.
By late afternoon clouds eclipsed the whole sky, towering black cumulonimbus clouds. Around 4:30 my phone alerted me to a severe thunderstorm warning. My words were proven more true than I wanted them to be. Wind clawed at hair and clothes. Deep rumbles like the grumbling of an angry Greek god echoed overhead warning the wise to run for shelter. No one can predict where lightning will strike. It can strike as far as 5 miles from a storm, sometimes literally, a bolt out of the blue, so I ran inside.
Then the storm broke with vengeance.
At first, I thought the banging I heard was tree branches being blown into the house. The noise got louder, like rocks thrown hard at the windows. I looked outside. It looked like someone was bouncing buckets of golf balls off the lawn with superhuman force. I went into a kind of stupor I guess. I can’t believe I didn’t think to take a video, but I wandered from window to window then backed away when I realized both the lightning and the hail made it unsafe to stand there. At first I was thankful to be home because my car was protected from hail damage. As the storm progressed and I realized its severity was increasing, I was thankful to be safe and protected. The storm went on for nearly 45 minutes. When it was over I tiptoed outside.
An upper story window is broken. Shredded window screens hang down below the windows. Some still cling to their frames but look like they were used for target practice. Our roof is sporting deep pits. Paint was stripped off siding. My flowers are now nothing more than sad little stems sticking out of the ground.
I think back to the words I read in Romans 8 before the storm hit. It feels so ironic that I was pondering these words just hours before the storm, when the sky was still clear and blue.
“Those who enter into Christ’s being-here—for-us no longer have to live under a continuous low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, The Message)
It goes on to describe what Jesus did for us. I was safe and protected during the storm. A person exposed to the fury of that storm could easily have died, but I had nothing to fear because the roof over my head and the walls around me bore the brunt of it and protected me. That is one reason “Christ’s being-here” matters to me. Dark clouds gather. Storms hit. I shelter in a safe place.
After the storm I saw a news report about a crazy woman who ran outside to try to catch hailstones. Predictably, the next sound you heard on the tape is “OUCH!” I’ve decided not to follow her example.