Monday, February 20, 2012

When God Shows Up in a Storm

My son Ezra has had a fear for years now concerning tornadoes. He’s not a big fan of thunderstorms or hurricanes but tornadoes have captured his imagination as particularly terrifying. I’m not exactly sure how this started but I recall he had a really vivid bad dream that involved a tornado five or six years ago and ever since has been really scared of a tornado destroying our home and family.

I have heard preachers talk about having the faith of a child and I am sure that I have preached the same thing on more than a few occasions but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Both of my kids have really struggled with faith in the last few years. Maybe all kids do but my kids have actually voiced their doubts with Dina and I in many a bed time conversations. Ezra has told me several times how he has had trouble believing in God. Sometimes I feel like a lousy parent and even a more lousy pastor because I tell him that I struggle with those feelings as well some times. I want him to know God and to experience a vibrant faith but I don’t want to just give him pat religious answers that either ignore his questions or just shut him down. But sometimes that is a very scary path to take with a kid because you have to trust that God will reach them in time in their own way.

A few weeks ago we were getting ready to do a baptism service. Ezra wanted to be baptized but was really struggling with doubts about God. It wasn’t that he was hostile to God because he really wanted to believe but he was struggling with doubts. He even went up for prayer at church on a couple of occasions in the last month desiring to know God. Well he did get baptized a few weeks back because he wanted to know God better but still he struggled with some lingering doubts… that is until a couple of days ago.

Yesterday there was quite a storm that hit our area. The rain was pouring down as hard as I’d ever seen it and the thunder was rumbling all around. I was trying to cook something in the kitchen when the power began flickering on and off. Ezra was beginning to get anxious because he was wondering how bad this storm was going to get and if there might just be a tornado coming. He stood looking out our back window when I heard him scream something about a tornado hitting our house. A split second later I heard a big crash and looked out the window to see that the gazebo on our back porch had been lifted off the deck, slammed into the house and dropped on our roof. The gazebo hung off the corner of our roof as a twisted pile of iron bars and canvas. I don’t think it was a tornado but it was pretty scary. Ezra saw the whole thing happen with the gazebo flying in the air right before his eyes. After a few minutes the worst of the storm had passed and we went outside to assess the damage to our house, which was thankfully pretty minor, just some siding ripped off here and there. Later that afternoon Ezra remarked that God protected us from that storm. I agreed with him but didn’t realize the depth of what was going on inside him.

Tonight Ezra was laying down in bed next to me (he gets to sleep in my bed when Dina is out of town). I was reading a book and he decided he wanted to read something as well. He looked through several of the books on Dina’s bed stand before grabbing her Bible. He picked the Bible up and began reading the book of Ezra (of course). After about ten minutes he told me, “Dad, God makes reading the Bible fun!” I replied, “Yes He does!” Ezra then began telling me how until yesterday he just thought the Bible was a bunch of words, stuff about wisdom (which in his eight year old mind means boredom). But tonight the words were coming alive to him. He then told me that he really likes reading it and wants to read it more. It is very evident that his prayers to encounter God have been answered and that it has made a real difference in his faith.

As I ponder his words of wisdom and his encounter with God I am so grateful for the way that God shows himself to each of us in our own ways and sometimes right in the middle of our biggest fears. Reading the Bible without God is a drag and so is pretty much everything else. I love to have the opportunity to get to watch his experience of God as it takes shape. It is truly a gift and an answer to many prayers.


greenturtle said...

Reminds me of when I was first introduced to the bible as a teenager.

I would occasionally come across people my own age, who indicated that they read the bible. And I would think, why would you want to read that?

I mean, it was such an archaic and churchy book. I loved to read, but I wanted to read something interesting!

Then my new stepfather asked me if I ever read the bible and would I like to. And my response was the same, why would I want to read that?

He suggested the Living Bible, since it was written in modern language, and said I should give it a try. OK, so I started with page one.

I was actually surprised to find it interesting, and even a bit entertaining!

"But, but, the Living Bible is a paraphrase! It's not the real thing!" Eh, stuff a sock in it.

(I've always thought the "King James Only" theory was garbage).

I'm not a big fan of bad storms myself. My fear has always been of hurricanes.

Turned out the worst one (Katrina) changed my life forever; I decided there was nothing left for me in Louisiana, sold everything except what could fit in my car, and headed out west. (Only to be brought back a year later, but anyway).

It's not easy to believe in God.

There's so much conflicting evidence; I've seen him totally come through, yet I've also seen him bail out at the last minute, and it just leaves me wondering.

greenturtle said...

About what I said about God bailing out:

In some cases I'd find out later that it was a good thing after all.

One such example was last year when I was living in Amarillo.

I did my best to try to like it there, and try to build a new life there.

But, it was one of the most miserable times of my life. I actually bought a gun "in case I need a way out." Yes, it was that bad.

Then suddenly my husband got fired for a very stupid reason.

That is a definite "worst fear" for me, especially since just months ago we had fallen victim to the "offshore drilling moratorium," which forced us to leave the Gulf Coast to find work elsewhere.

At the time, it appeared to be a complete tragedy; Exactly what kind of a sick joke was God trying to play?

And I could plainly hear God say "I did this," which totally didn't make sense to me.

But I knew it was true. He was getting us out of there.

That's how we ended up in Midland. And I love it here. I have friends here. I'm going to college again.

I know now that in that instance, God really did come through. Because had we not been taken out of there, one or both of us would have died.

All that to say, if it seems that God has bailed or is playing a sick joke, it might be a miracle and you don't realize it yet.

Cathy Carman said...

That is very beautiful.