Storms

Storms come in many varieties.  When we first came West, I enjoyed the phenomenon of actually watching a thunderstorm approach from miles away, sneaking across the flat plains, bearing its buckets of water.  My Dad used to tell a story about being in Philly as a kid, and sitting on the front stoop of his row home, while watching it rain across the street.  I have funny memories from my youth, of being at the  pool all day and then calling for a ride home because of a downpour (why? I was already drenched to my pruney skin…why couldn’t I walk home?).

Then there are the storms which are not as charming.  I recall the onslaught in the middle of the night which caused us to pull our little camper into a remote rest area, and feeling like a gigantic, cubical, sitting duck as the lighting flung its arms all around us.  There was  the tornado that came through Jefferson City, MO, while I was in the hospital the day after delivering our little Kate (they hauled us all out into the hallway, including one poor lady who was in labor, bless her heart). And I will never forget the time that my husband and a few others had decided to take a ride on horseback out onto the mesa, and a thunderhead literally turned from its apparent path and headed straight for us.  I had stayed behind with the children and a couple other ladies, and we scrambled for our vehicles to avoid being savagely pelted by hail.  The thunder claps were  deafening, and the children in my vehicle were very frightened.  So was I.  We sang.  We prayed. Loud.  And afterward, when all was calm, and the riders had safely returned, we loaded up the horse trailer and made our way home while witnessing the clearest, most vibrant double rainbow I’d ever seen.  Such delicately crafted, quiet beauty after what seemed like a tantrum of screaming winds and wildly flapping sheets of rain.

“Hath the rain a father?  Or who hath begotten the drops of dew?” Job 38:28

I still feel the emotion of those storms.  Interestingly, the first ones I mentioned were harder to remember.  The ones that struck genuine fear into my heart (although I understand that the rain has a Father, I am also made of dust…which gets a bit messy under such circumstances) I remembered with instant clarity.  That is the way of our hearts, isn’t it?

I awoke with the memory of some personal storms reverberating in my heart in these early hours.  Memories of events which, although long past, still cause the brow to unconsciously furrow and the muscles to involuntarily tense.  Sometimes failures.  Sometimes fears.  Sometimes pain.  Sometimes events that have angered me.  I have a choice.  I can go there, and re-live those occasions.  Unwrap every dusty detail that had been purposefully stored away, and try to handle the painful memories with fingers still bearing the scars from the last time I tried to hold them.  Or, I can teach my heart.

“Teach my thy way O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.” Psalm 27:11

When I am paralyzed by fear, the path is far from plain.  It is cluttered with emotion, and it is strewn with my own limited understanding.  Panic in its various forms has a way of making the eyes dart from place to place with an inability to focus.  My enemy, also His adversary, would have it so.  I need His truth.  So I allow Him…I beg Him… to teach it to my heart.  “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world, Diane.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…I will make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”   I remember that He is, and He was…and therefore I know He ever shall be.

I love that God has given me a memory for hymn texts.  Music stays with me.  I can’t remember what I learned in History of Civilization in college.  I often can’t recall the names of acquaintances I have met only occasionally.  Sometimes I even forget why I have walked into a particular room!  But hymn texts stick like everlasting glue to my mind.  I rarely have to look at the hymnal, unless it is something with a tough alto part (or a verse that is often forlorn in our “let’s sing the first (sometimes second) and the last” tradition). 🙂  It is a blessing for which I am very grateful.  This morning, as I deliberated, un-furrowing my brow in the darkness,  this is what came instantly to mind:

 

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

~Vernon J. Charlesworth, 1880

Before you begin to think that the repeated phrase, “a shelter in the time of storm” is a tedious thing in this text, I would invite you to stop and meditate on the import of those words.  The phrase “His mercy endureth forever” ebbs and flows throughout all 26 verses of Psalm 136, by the Author’s design.  Why?  He intends for us to remember it.  Repetition (and especially that of exemplary ideas) aids learning, so they say.

Hide things in your heart that will serve to rescue you, hearten you, and cause the path to be plain, my friends.  There will be a rainbow.  I promise.  No…He does. 😉

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