Ride through the Storm

Last weekend I went for a ride with the local cycling club.  It was a cool June morning, and although the clouds were a little ominous, they appeared to be far off from where we were.  They were majestic and huge; a fantastic site to look at when riding.  The group I ride with was about 20 miles or so into our ride when the clouds turned ugly, dark, and started to dispense some raindrops on us.

At first, the rain felt refreshing.  I’ve gotten over my fear of riding in the rain, so the fresh cool drops were a welcome guest.  Soon the few sprinkles turned into big drops which in-turn turned into buckets of cold rain.  Thunder started roaring, and ahead of us great big bolts of lightning started to strike the Earth.

Everyone seemed to increase their speed, and pretty soon, I was being passed by a few other cyclists.  I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on the faces of those pedaling by me.  It seems storms tend to give way to an adrenaline rush, a slight fear, and the notion that we are all a little crazy for being out there on the road during thunderstorms.

The more we rode, the closer the storm seemed to come.  It was all around us.  We had to ride into it in order to navigate our way out of it.  I know that might not make much sense, but we knew if we turned back, the storm would eventually find us again.

As we drew closer to the flashing lightning, the rush I had been feeling turned to fear.  I began to pray, “Lord, we need a hedge of protection around us.”  I repeated this prayer for the next six or seven miles.  In that moment of darkening skies, rolling thunder, blasting lightning strikes, and pounding cold rain, I realized that without my prayers and the God I believe in, I was nothing.  I was nothing but a speck in the middle of a mighty storm.  I was vulnerable.  I was small.  I was clipped onto a bike and all I could do was pedal on until I found shelter or a way out of the storm.

I was at the storm’s mercy, and trust me, it was not a merciful storm.

After figuring out where we believed the storm was heading, we were able to cut out about ten miles of road and head back to where we started.  Once out of the storm, I began to relax.  The smile came back on my face, and I realized that we were going to be okay.  Riding through the storm was frightening, but a little exhilarating.  Once back in the cycling group, we began to swap storm stories, and all seemed very thankful to be off the bike.

I needed to ride through that storm.  I needed to feel vulnerable, fearful, and in need of mercy.  I needed to call out to Him for protection.  I needed the reminder that I am very small in context to this mighty world we live in.

I also needed the reminder that storms of life come up suddenly, and without much warning.  When in the middle of the crashing sounds of fear, and the strong waves of pain, I need to hang on, ride through it, and call to the Lord in prayer.

When the storms of life are merciless, and bigger than what we feel we can handle, may we embrace the peace that comes from knowing the One who carries us through them.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. -Nahum 1:7
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. -Nahum 1:7

Beauty in the Storms

Sky in Missouri Monday night Photo credit:  Clarissa Weter
Sky in Missouri Monday night
Photo credit: Clarissa Weter

It’s almost embarrassing to admit this, but lately I’ve been in a little bit of a pity-party kind of mood.  That habitual escape of self-loathing has never helped me, and if anything, it tends to create guilt for ever doing it in the first place.  I hurt my leg a few weeks ago and have not been able to run or ride my bike.  My house is always in chaos with three young children.  The necessity for me to show up at work each day with a smile on my face is hard to do.  Finances are tight due to adding another child.  I even feel a slight envy in my heart over the vacation pictures of numerous friends on Facebook.

I went to bed Monday night prepared to be woken up from the stormy night that was expected.  We had our blanket, flashlights, diaper bag, extra shoes, and bike helmets lined up by the nook of a hiding place under our stair well just in case of a tornado. Thankfully, the storms died down before they entered the area that we live.  I woke up in the morning feeling worn down with my leg hurting and thinking about all I needed to accomplish at work that day.

I picked the baby up and shuffled into the living room.  Barely awake, I made a pot of coffee and secured the baby in his high chair for his morning snack.  I could smell the coffee percolating while I sat there and stared at the laundry pile on the chair next to me.  Pretty soon I picked my tired body up and filled my cup of coffee.  It is rare when I get a chance to watch the news in the morning, so I took advantage of the moment.  I flipped to one of the major news networks to watch the coverage of the tornado that struck our neighboring state.  Pretty soon I could taste the salt of my tears that were meandering their way down my face.

During this time, my daughter got up and sat next to me on the couch.  In that moment of quietness with just the faint sound of the news in the background and the taste of my tears, I thought to myself, “What are you doing? What are you thinking even beginning to feel that you are owed something, or that you don’t have enough?”  I felt shame for the pity-party I had been toying around with for the past few days.  I felt guilt for not trusting the Lord with the areas of my life that are causing stress.  I felt disgusted and sickened for taking what I do have for granted, and for desiring more.

The images of the destruction, neighbors and family members searching with desperation for their loved ones, crumpled houses, a flattened school, and the numbers of the victims and injured scrolling at the bottom of the television all stuck to me like glue.  They punched me in the gut.  They shook me up.  They took my breath away.  Truthfully, they should do this.  It is easy to get caught in the trap of gluttony and greed.  It is even easier to allow the blessings of life to turn into things that cause stress.

The heaviness I felt in my heart was soon replaced by the thought of this simple truth:

The love of Christ and redemption found in Him can never be destroyed by the wrath of storms.  The promise of the Lord is the only thing that will never go away.  Our homes may be destroyed, our children may pass away, our jobs may be dissolved, and our health may deteriorate, but the Cross will always stand.  He will always stand.  

After these thoughts bombarded me, I finished my coffee, leaned over and kissed my little girl, and went about getting ready for the rest of my day.  I know I will always need reminders of the promise of salvation.  I also know that I will walk the tightrope of trappings of an Earthly life.  I know there will be days where I just want to pull the covers over my head.  There will be storms that rage in my heart, my mind, and my life.

The pictures in this post are of the sky over Missouri following the tornado in Oklahoma.  It was beautiful to look at.  The sky following the Joplin tornado was eerily beautiful as well.  It makes sense though.photo (63)

 It is in the storms of life that the true beauty of faith in Christ is revealed.