When Thunder Passes Over
- June 10, 2016
- Josh Godwin
When I was younger I was absolutely and totally petrified by thunderstorms. I imagined thunderstorms to be one of the worst possible things that could ever happen to a human person ever. There was nothing worse in my pre-adolescent mind than hearing thunder off in the distance and having to deal with the horror of what was approaching. Clearly I didn’t know about DMV lines, rush hour traffic, or mushy apples yet.
I don’t really know why I was so terrified of thunderstorms. I had a close call with a lightning strike when I was very little; at least I perceived it as a close call, there was probably a good ways between the lightning and me. But even still I lived in a house so I was relatively safe from lightning strikes. Our house sat on a little hill in our yard, so there wasn’t a whole lot of danger of flooding either. The walls protected from all the wind, so it wasn’t like I was going to be swept away by a stiff gust. So what was it that terrified me so??
I think what terrified me so much about thunderstorms was knowing just how powerful that ominously approaching dark monstrosity was, while also knowing how powerless I was against it. Even from the earliest age we have an engrained desire to be in control of our situation; I think it comes with being at the top of the food chain (just don’t let a bear hear you’re claiming the top of the food chain…you might not be there for long). But we have a need to know how and why something is happening and what we can do to control it. Thunderstorms are the great antithesis of that desire.
There’s no predicting a thunderstorm. Sure, meteorologists study trends and patterns and can, to an extent, predict the movement of a storm. However, lightning strikes are almost perfectly random (ergo the “strike twice” idea). And tornadoes are the greatest of all uncontrollable ominous dangers. Bill Paxton and that flying cow made an entire movie about this back in the 90’s, right? About how completely unpredictable and dangerous tornados and storms were?
So maybe I do know why I was so completely horrified by thunderstorms as a child. It’s for much the same reason we as adults are totally mortified by the unknown. If something is unknown for us, then that means we can’t prepare for it, we can’t predict it, or we can’t prepare ourselves for it. That makes us uncomfortable, because so much of adult lives are lived in preparation for the next day; isn’t that the entire point of any kind of insurance? We live our lives always looking forward to tomorrow to prepare ourselves for it. The unknown prevents us from doing so and makes us uncomfortable, nervous, even shaken sometimes.
But even though we can’t escape the presence of the unknown (there will always be something left in the shadows or right in front of us that we can’t identify), we can continue living powerfully in the way we are supposed to go. If we really believe that God has called us to do something and is leading us the way to do it, then we have to trust that we won’t know everything that happens around us. And that’s okay. The storm will still rage, the lightning will still strike, and the waters will continue to rise around us, but faith reminds us that it will all pass and we will continue walking with God. We are powerless to stop the storms that approach us, but we are not powerless to have faith through them.