I've always been scared of driving over bridges, even riding in a car over them. Now, if you've ever traveled west you know there's these kind of big rivers to cross called the Missouri and the Mississippi. So, I'm driving because Larry and I had to split the task of risk one of us collapsing of exhaustion. And there's a bridge. A BIG bridge.
I could feel the panic welling up in me as we approached, but suddenly a single ray of sunlight, a God ray, shone down on the bridge. Immediately, a peace came over me, as if He was saying, "It's okay, child." God was leading me through my fear, allowing me to conquer it, and to this day I have no problem with crossing bridges.
We hit the eastern side of St. Louis and stopped for the last time for gas. Randy was following us at that point and we could see the storm building. We'd skirted it up to that point, but as we left we knew we were heading into the teeth of the beast.
I've always been afraid of thunderstorms. When I was a kid, my brothers and I would gather in one of our rooms during a storm and hide under blankets as things raged outside. I've had to grow up some having children of my own now. I can't show my fear, but it's there nonetheless.
So there I sit, riding down the highway, trapped in a van, with a fierce thunderstorm barreling down on us. Needless to say, I was scared.
But then it started. We turned on WBGL, the local Christian station that reaches all the way across IL, to get a weather report as the storm began lighting up the sky. And the first song they played was "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns. Absolutely the hand of God.
I was never comfortable enough to raise my hand in worship at church, but on this night, when I heard this song, I raised both hands to my Lord. I sang my heart out, crying to Him, a frightened child. And He gave me peace. I watched the bolts of lightning streak across the sky and was at last able to see their beauty. I saw the raw power of His Creation, the majesty of His works. It was one of the most gorgeous things I have ever witnessed.
The greatest thing we were concerned with on the trip home was rain. Randy was driving a moving truck for the first time and we were genuinely worried that rain could cause him a lot of problems. So we prayed for a clear path back to Terre Haute, or at the very least, His guidance for Randy. Thunder rumbled, wind howled, lightning pierced the sky all around us as we pressed on through IL, but not a drop of rain. We kept waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop in the form of blinding rain the radio kept talking about, but nothing ever came.
Until we got home. As we pulled up in front of our house, a downpour began. He had held in the palm of His hand, answering our prayers, and rewarding us for doing what He'd told us to do. It was amazing. For the first time, perhaps ever, I danced in the rain. The joy was overwhelming. The presence of God was palpable that night to Larry, Randy and I, and we reveled in it. We were exhausted; it was close to midnight, but we didn't care.
Thunderstorms have become very special to the Swank family, and I have stood on our balcony in the midst of many since we moved in June. No more hiding under blankets or cowering. I truly believe, and have seen it over and over, that God has provided thunderstorms as a way to speak to me. To get my attention. I miss them now that it's winter, but I'm doing better about listening to Him speak in other ways.
I do have to smile at the thought of spring and summer again though. Watching God's power and majesty pass before you is an awesome thing.
Now playing: Casting Crowns - Praise You in This Storm