We squinted at the small screen as the radar showed a long line of storms from San Angelo to Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, we were headed north on I-35 to visit my father in Oklahoma City.
We would have been on edge in any event given the deep red shades on the radar, but we’d only just gone through one of the most severe thunderstorms that week we had ever experienced in Houston. Swaths of the city were underwater and our neighborhood saw 11 inches of rain in six hours overnight. We were still picking up debris.
As we drove north from Dallas toward Oklahoma City, I monitored the storms inching toward the freeway and entertained the children as he drove at an ever escalating pace. My stomach turned flips as the storms moved ever closer. Just on the other side of the state line, I told him if we could make it to Ardmore within 30 minutes, we might avoid the main line of storms. As if to punctuate the importance of beating the thunderstorms, our phones alarmed with flash flood and thunderstorm warnings and the sky lit up with incoming lightning.
As my nerves jangled, I opened up the Bible app on my phone to remind myself of the most famous storm the disciples encountered. Mark 4 tells it like this,
That day, when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Oh ME of little faith. Imagining the disciples being overtaken by waves on a small boat gave me some perspective. It settled me. I began to pray. Dear Lord, please guard our car. Guard our family. Guard us as we approach this storm. Please help us make it through. Get us to the city without driving in the midst of that terrible line of thunderstorms. Send your powerful protection.
And we made it. The storms hit I-35 once we were north of them.
I prayed with heartfelt thanks for the safe arrival at my father’s house.
But then I paused. I recalled a passage from Undone I had read that afternoon on the ride up. The author tells of her and her family’s weeks of prayers as they awaited the verdict of whether her cancer had spread. The doctor called and the news was positive. She still had recovery ahead, but the cancer had not spread. She fell on her knees in thanks for the good news.
Until she received her doctor’s reply to her enthusiasm, Yes, God is good – I believe this even when we struggle to understand all of His purposes. She quickly sobered and remembered others who had received different news: Yes, God is good. It was easy for me to say it at that moment buoyed as I was with good test results. But would I still have celebrated the goodness of God with different results? Would I have testified to my confident, unwavering belief in Jesus had the test scan turned out differently.
Would I? I began to ask myself some questions: Would I have been grateful had we spent time in the center of the storm? Would my faith have reacted differently if our little family experienced flood waters rising, hail falling and wind blowing? Would God still be a good God who cares about us?
This is what I’m constantly learning when confronting storms: God is good. He’s good when He saves us from having to go through the storm. He’s still good when He stands with us IN the storm.
I don’t always understand where God is leading. Or why. I’ve stopped trying to understand with my limited field of vision. I will probably continue to pray to be delivered from the storms. But I will trust God is good and is fighting for me even in the storms.
And I know I will arrive safely at my Father’s house.