March 31st, Cadi and I were home getting snuggled in for bed. Jon was out of town on business. I had her downstairs with me because the weather forecast was for severe weather and high winds; I hesitate to have her upstairs when severe weather is approaching.
The news station reported that radar indicated a rotation near a town just to our east. At that moment, a tremendous wind hit our house, the satellite went out, and we heard something very large hit the back of the house. Without thinking, we ran to the laundry room with the dogs and shut both doors. I piled dirty clothes around us and covered Cadi with my shaking body. All the while I was praying, “Lord, save us. Lord, protect us. God, You are our shield. You place your hedge of protection around us.” The wind whisted under the laundry room door like a freight train.
It lasted perhaps a minute, maybe two minutes. We waited there for another five before I grabbed the telephone just as my neighbor called me to check on us. Their wooden playscape was lifted off the ground and turned upside down; part of it had been ripped up with the pieces scattered over their roof and the front of their yard. I took a quick look out the blinds, and in a flash of lightening, I saw that our fence was mostly gone. Sections were down on the ground in various directions. We later discovered that our neighbor’s trampoline is what hit the back of our house…it landed upside down in our back yard.
By God’s grace, none of us was hurt. The trampoline hit us on the only wall where we had no windows. We lost shingles and had to replace the fence, but our God helped us in the midst of the storm, literally!
All of which brings me back to something my new friend Bev told me as we said goodbye last Saturday. She had been to a different Beth Moore taping for a Bible Study on Esther. One of the things Beth focused on was this: over and over, more than any command in the Bible, God tells us to TAKE COURAGE and do not be afraid. Picture courage as something tangible that can be touched. Picture the Lord holding courage out in his strong hand for you to grab hold of with your trembling one.
I never imagined courage to be something given away like a gift, but it is! I am moved to study the word courage and the circumstances in the Bible when people were given courage.
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.
My Bible notes that the words “It is I,” in Greek, are actually ‘I Am.’ And who is God? God is the great I Am! In that terrifying moment, Jesus handed something to his disciples that was very real, even though it wasn’t temporal. He gave them courage. Where did that courage come from? It came from his very presence, from the fact that He Is. His presence not only gave them courage, but it also calmed the rough seas.
I don’t know about you, but I hate rough water. I get seasick on a waterbed, so being in a small fishing boat in the middle of a squall sounds like a horror film to me. But I keep going back to Jesus, giving out courage like my grandma used to hand out cookies.
Where did I get courage during the tornado that hit near our house? It was a gift inside me, and I didn’t even know I had it. I wonder if the Lord’s gift of courage is something he continually gives out, or is it something he fed-exes to us when we need it?
Lord, this world can be a scary place. One look at the newspaper or internet headlines is confirmation that everything has become upside down. In the world, right is wrong, and wrong is right. But I praise You and stand up tall. I take my position that you’ve given me for this moment, and I grab onto the courage you provide. With your presence, we will overcome even death. Praise God!