Thursday, June 03, 2004

The storm

Central Florida proudly proclaims itself "the lightning capital of the world." After a spring of drought, we had a derriere-kicker of a storm last night.

I was caught on the highway. It looked ready to storm as I left the church last night, so I stopped and picked up some groceries, figuring the storm would pass over while I was inside. It did, but it or its buddy waited for me out on the stretch of 10-mile highway through the middle of nowhere.

The deluge hit like a solid wall of water. The road was covered in water in seconds, disappearing into it. The only guide I had was the dim glow of reflective markers that my car's headlights captured through the water. The explosions of lightning served more to temporarily blind than to illuminate.

I didn't want to pull off to the side of the road for fear of getting stuck in mud or sliding into the wide, water retention ditches that parallel the highway. There's usually enough water in them that people fish from them, even in dry weather.

The blinkers of a car ahead of me came on, signalling that the driver intended to pull off to the side of the road, but the driver apparently thought better of it, too, and continued the journey.

It started feeling like my car was plowing through high water instead of rolling on the roadway, and I worried about my car stalling out. I could see the lights of a large truck behind me, and I was suddenly gripped by the image of it trying to pass me and swamping my car with its wake.

Now I could relate to the story of Jesus' disciples on the boat, during the storm:

Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
(Matthew 8:24-25, NIV)

If Jesus had been sleeping on my back seat, I would have removed one hand from the steering wheel long enough to wake him, saying, "Lord? LORD?"

But my next thought was that I had no need to wake my Lord, who neither slumbers nor sleeps. He was there with me, in the front seat, keeping my hands steady on the wheel.

I am so much more fortunate than those disciples, for I know the rest of the story, and how marvelous is Jesus Christ, who can calm these storms, and who relieves our fears of life and death, for he is with us, always.

I arrived home safely.

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