I sit at my café-style table on my covered deck, this morning, reading “Romans” while in the near distance a storm rumbles closer. My focus on “Romans” is disrupted by the sounds of nature preparing for the storm’s arrival; I stop reading and absorb all the activity. I HAVE to stop, you see, because God says, “Stop reading and pay attention to Me!” And in case I have any intention of ignoring Him, He shatters my ability to focus on the words – so I still myself in the powerful moment and watch.
From my second-story deck, I gaze out, past the rooftops of our waffle-lot houses, to the forest beyond. The treetops form a jagged line against the sky – a kind of horizon, although I don’t think it is a horizon in the true sense of the word.
I can’t see it from my deck, but I think about the creek on this side of the forest – about the deep, rushing water that is sure to come. The weather guy says rain and storms all weekend, severe at times. My kids and I will not be donning our creek-walking boots, nets in hand, gathering treasures – crawdads, snails, fish, trinkets - this weekend. In a few days, we will explore the new treasures sojourning in our section of the creek before the next storm washes them ever closer to the Duck River.
I think about the snake – the one that lives somewhere under the trail bridge that spans the creek – the one that seems to grow bigger each year – the one that the neighborhood moms demand their kids steer clear of because “he may be poisonous”; I know he is not, so my kids and I often observe him, at a respectable distance, as he slithers through the grass or skims the water’s surface disappearing into the creek bank’s raised walls. I wonder what the snake does to prepare for storms. I’ve heard that chickens hunker down and still themselves. Birds become brazenly verbal – nature’s warning sirens, I suppose. I wonder if this is normal or just because in my yard there are two nests filled with babies the birds must rush to protect.
Trees’ leaves stretch heavenward in anticipation, and I can’t help but think of them in praise when I see the underside of those leaves firm and erect thirsting for God’s nourishment. And before you say, “Silly girl, trees can’t praise God,” I direct you to Psalm 148, verse 7-9:
Praise the LORD from the earth,
Sea monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruit trees and all cedars;
The storm arrives with a grand shock of thunder and a bolt so powerful it lights the dark sky long enough to observe its pure-white brilliance. When I recover from the paralyzing jolt to my body and soul, it occurs to me that nature is not swayed by other gods – false gods. It simply respects the power of God and praises Him without question, and I wonder: why can’t human nature get it right?
I had no idea of the power of the storms headed for us that morning as I sat on my deck thinking about nature's storm preparations. I couldn't have foreseen the rain that would pound us for two days straight or the massive flash flooding of our our creeks, rivers, and storm sewers - so intense it turned our interstates to fast-moving waterways. I couldn't have predicted the loss of life or how much damage this storm would do to Nashville and all of Middle Tennessee. Have a look: