I love a good storm. I remember being at camp one summer and actually watching a storm approach across a field like a curtain of rain until it surrounded us, and then confidently passed by. I am the type who likes to watch a storm from the window or even beneath the roof of our patio … to feel the wind, to see the lightning display, to hear the rumble of the thunder, to smell the freshness of the air, to catch a splash of the raindrops as they pelt against the concrete … particularly when Baytown and most of Texas is experiencing such a severe drought, the longing for a good storm is palpable.
Sometimes, though, storms are so severe that they don’t just refresh, they tear up and wash away trees, homes, businesses, roads … sometimes the storms change our landscapes and our lives for good.
The tornados of the midwest, the tsunami of Japan … these have irreparably changed the lives of millions. I told the story this morning about the tornado on prom night in Hoisington, Kansas, in 2001. You can listen to the story here. After the storm, the youth of Hoisington, the NPR broadcast reported, began to believe that the tornado made choices … to destroy one house and leave another standing; to rip a roof off the kitchen and leave the pitcher of lemonade untouched on the table … like the tornado had a mind and will to choose certain families to protect and other to destroy.
I guess we always look for reason or fault when it comes to the storms of our lives, but the truth is that everyone experiences storms of some kind at some time that have such an impact their lives will never be the same again. The storms are wet and uncomfortable and highly inconvenient; they strip away the things that are important to us; and they often demand that we recognize our dependency on others and on God.
In Rob Bell’s Nooma video, Rain, he tells the story of getting caught in a storm while taking a morning walk with his infant son. The child was afraid and crying, but he kept saying, “it’s okay, buddy, we’re going to make it, Dad knows they way home.”
Some have a mistaken idea that if we’re good, if we believe, if we follow Christ, that God will keep the storms away … but we know, don’t we, what happens when there’s no rain? There is a devastating drought … and God loves us through the storm.
I suggested in the small group material for Synod Youth Workshop, that the groups may end with a blessing straight from the Nooma video:
“May you, when you’re soaking wet,
lost, hurting, and confused,
may you cry out
and may the creator of the universe take you out of your pack,
may he hold you tight up against his chest,
may he wrap his eternal loving arms around you,
and may you hear him whisper …
I love you buddy/angel.
We’re going to make it.
Dad (or Abba) knows the way home.
We’re gonna make it.
I love you.”