A jagged flash of lightning ripped open the night sky, and I sucked in my breath, instinctively hunching in fearful anticipation. A few seconds later, angry thunder vibrated across my nerves. I really hate lightning and thunder!
A room full of out-of-town relatives chuckled indulgently at my involuntary gasps each time lightning stabbed the sky, knowing well my fear of thunderstorms. But just as the storm seemed to pass, an earth-shattering crash snapped everyone to attention. The whole house shuddered.
"Whew! Lightning must have struck close," my uncle stated. "I'm going to look around." He opened the front door and took a step outside. "There's a fire!" he hollered.
I hurried outside to see flames leaping up a large juniper tree in the field across from our house, the orange glow growing with breathtaking speed.
"It's coming this way! We've gotta get out of here!" At the urgency in my uncle's voice, I raced for the phone, forcing my trembling fingers to punch the 911 buttons. Then I flew through the house, grabbing pictures off walls and photo albums from bookshelves. Within minutes everyone piled into the car, and as we drove down the driveway, I heard sirens. Help was on the way.
Later, the fire extinguished and our house safe, I drew two conclusions from that experience: My fear of thunderstorms wasn't so unreasonable, and fear only seems unreasonable when it's directed toward something you personally do not fear.
When we were building a fence one summer, my son, Landon, didn't want to carry the boards because they had earwigs crawling on them. I insisted he do it anyway until my husband casually asked me, "What if the earwigs were snakes?" I quickly found another job for Landon.
It's no fun to be afraid, but I'm glad God understands. The Bible is heavily laced with reassuring passages addressing fear. One of my favorites is about King Jehoshaphat, who had a legitimate reason to be afraid (2 Chron. 20). Three different armies had declared war on him. His solution? After praying for God's intervention, he had a choir lead his army into battle. As the choir sang, the three armies fought each other in a far-off valley. By the time Jehoshaphat's army arrived, no one was left to fight. All because of praise!
I gave Jehoshaphat's solution a try when my car broke down on the freeway late one night. Swallowing back my fear, I prayed, "Father, whatever happens now, I'll praise youand I'll trust you."
Immediately a dark van lumbered to a stop and a powerfully built man stepped out and walked toward my car. I repeated, "I praise you, God, and I trust you."
As it turned out, the man was from the next town and knew which mechanic to recommend and tow company to call. In no time at all, I was back on the road. As I thanked the stranger for his help, he explained why he'd stopped: "Last week my wife's car broke down and no one stopped to help her. I told the Lord the next time I passed a car on the side of the road, I'd stop."
Amazing! I'll remember this praise connection the next time I see storm clouds gathering.
Copyright © 1997 by Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman Magazine.