I was driving home from visiting my parents and was anticipating missing most of the storm that was rolling in over Donner Summit. Once I crossed the Summit I was grateful that I had gotten ahead of it. When my drive took me down into the Lassen Valley, taking in all the beauty that was around me in the display of brilliant Fall colors scattered over the backdrop of glistening peaks, and valleys covered in golden hues of dry grass where herds of wild horses gathered, on the road ahead was an ominous site.
Last year in September of 2021 my husband and I were in a horrible vehicle accident as we were heading home on a two-lane highway that hugs the California Sierras on the west and the high desert valley on the east. High winds had picked up ash on the hillside left from the Dixie Fire that year and swept it over the road like a black curtain, blinding us and those driving behind us. As we slowed down to proceed cautiously the vehicles behind us did not and we were hit at 70 mph impact. Since then, I have experienced anxiety when traveling long distances alone.
Yesterday, as I looked down the road in the distance my heart began to race and my grip on the steering wheel tightened. Fear began to take over my thoughts as I planned an escape route, “how will I avoid this, can I pull over and take shelter, maybe I can park at the gas station and wait this out”? Interrupting my panic was the sudden presence of peace. The Holy Spirit spoke to my fearful heart reminding me that God is the One who controls the storm.
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”Matthew 8:26-27 NIV
Isn’t it just like us to fear the worst when we face unexpected storms in life? We experience a broken heart and believe we will never be whole again. We face unimaginable loss and believe we will never be able to move on. We face the betrayal of a friend or spouse and believe we will never be able to trust again. Yet, as we look back into the painful past we have experienced we see that our belief in – never to be – is not true.
In the most fearful and painful moments of our lives we are never alone. It is God with us always. The broken heart heals as God’s love affirms our significance, beauty, and value, realizing we have a choice to either believe the lies that perpetuate our pain or put on the full armor of God and continue on in His truth and embrace the unique, gifted, and called person He created in you. Our loss is comforted by the compassion and kindness of our loving Savior who empathizes with our grief as we begin to rise from the ashes of pain and take flight again in honor of who or what we have laid to rest. The betrayal that broke our trust in humankind is soon resurrected as God’s Spirit disciples us and brings new relationships that are built on Christ-like character and Godly integrity and we take into account our own misconceptions, learning from them. It is God with us always.
We may expect the worst, but God is expectantly waiting to give us His best.
That day, as I drove down the road closer to the darkened sky that appeared like a black veil like the one I drove into a year earlier, I began to pray. I knew that no matter how bad it looked, God was in control. I am sure most of us can say that in our mind we made some storms we face far worse than they were. I am the prepared one in my family. I am the one who prepares for the worst, stockpiling canned goods, making sure all the gas cans are filled, having an escape route planned, and watching and waiting for the moment that storm hits. Most of the time it doesn’t. It just goes around us. And, I thank God it does. White knuckling it as raindrops began to fall on the windshield I laughed in embarrassment, thinking God must be chuckling with me as well. It was an ominous anomaly in the sky but not on the ground. Light rain and high winds and a deep sigh of relief. “Lord, help me to see things as they really are and not through my fears, but through faith and hope in you to always be in control of the storm”.