Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lighten Up!

Lightening makes people do strange things. It helped Thomas Edison discover electricity, and it made a priest out of Martin Luther. It can split huge trees, dance on water and strike your car without hurting you. It can also scare you out of your wits when you’re little, at least it did that years ago to our Brooks who was fearless in the face of just about everything else at age five. Now we have James, also 5, in the family and he’s Brooks all over again. One bolt and he’s down the hall diving between his parents in bed.

This summer, we went with James’ family to Grant’s Farm, a wildlife preserve on the land once owned by Ulysses S. Grant. While I noticed the ominous storm clouds moving in, James was too busy feeding the goats and delighting in the Galapagos turtles to notice them. Nothing was said until the obvious happened -- the gates of heaven opened and poured out 3 inches of water in 30 minutes. We were annoyed that our umbrellas were in the car, but then again, the water wasn’t the real concern; it was the lightening that stopped us in our tracks. Our only options were to stand under trees or beneath a metal roof over an animal staging area. Let’s see, metal roof or trees. We opted for the sturdier, albeit metallic, overhang. Every four minutes, an automated announcement would calmly apologize, “The bird show has been cancelled due to inclement weather, until further notice.” The adults faked bravery for the kids’ sake, but we were all shaking as the lightening struck around us -- but not on us and not on our shelter, thank the Lord. Six of us, two being 5- and 3-years-old, stood wide-eyed hoping to avoid the eye of the storm, which had to be out there somewhere. After about ten minutes, James piped up with great bravado, “I can’t believe it!” Believe what, James? “I just learned I can stand right in the rain with the lightening and not be afraid. It’s amazing!”

It is amazing! On this day for James, being surrounded by loving adults who were not bothered by bolts and sounds, who chattered and laughed just like normal right through it, calmed his fears. It's one more way God’s love works, eh?

I heard a radio announcer the other day say that he’s still scared of the dark and just as afraid to admit it to other people. Fear can be fierce and tenacious; just try to convince the person -- little or big -- that thunder and lightening are just God moving the furniture or that they won’t be scared forever. When you’re afraid, conquering that fear seems a formidable challenge, but His love allows us to remove that fear. As 1 John 4:18 reminds us, “There is no fear in love. Perfect loves drives out fear.” The next time you shiver in your shoes in the lightening or face whatever strikes fear into your heart, ask God for His perfect love to drive out that fear. It will put a fresh face on the expression “lighten up!”

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