Have you ever thought, "How have I lived as long as I have?" I have....
When I think of all the incredibly dumb and dangerous things I did as kid (teenager) and can still walk about upright and take a breath, I'm thankful. Climbing 60 foot tall trees, jumping from massive barn beams into piles of oats 15-20 feet below, running and jumping off stripmine cliffs into the deep water 25-30 feet below, are just a few of the shenanigans I have done. There are some things I did with motorcycles and automobiles that will remain a mystery. Please don't let my mom see this blog.....
Through all my formative years, I was always curious. I was fascinated by birds in flight, tall trees, and anything that would challenge my fear factor. I thought I would be an airplane pilot. That dream never materialized. I always told my mother I wanted to be a bird. She laughed. I never backed away from things or situations from which others avoided. I didn't have thrill issues. I simply had a deep trust in something bigger than me. I suppose looking in hindsight, my fearlessness was because of God's abiding presence.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me
beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your
rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You
anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." (Psalm 23, NIV)
Lately, there have been a rash of horrific reports of lightning strikes where people were killed or injured. Prayers of comfort and healing for those who have lost loved ones in these unpredictable tragedies. The odds of these events are astronomical. There is no way to predict where lightning will fall next, yet I offer this picture as an interesting case study.
What you see here is my childhood neighborhood. The distance from left to right is approximate. The yellow diamonds/crosses are confirmed lightning strikes over a period of about 40 years. At least 4-5 of these strikes have been in the last four years and some within the last several weeks. One of the latest strikes (top center of the picture) damaged a huge spruce tree 30 feet from the house I grew up in. The tree, almost 70 feet tall, will have to be cut down. The other strike pictured to the far right actually killed our niece's family dog "Jed".
I can't think of any natural reason this alley would attract multiple lightning strikes. I can say, apart from the death of "Jed" the dog, there has been some structural damage but no loss of life. And so I venture back to Psalm 23 and begin to ponder all of its meaning.
In all the ways the Shepherd guides, guards, and gives, there is a growing sense of an abiding presence that cannot be lost apart from the sheep's decision to refuse the help. The connection we enjoy with this Shepherd is a glorious celebration when things go well and helpful for our shaken souls when things go awry. Even when tragedy strikes, the Shepherd is there to provide care and comfort. This speaks to me about God's provision. God does not will lightning to strike and kill folks but provides healing and comfort as those who are left behind try to make sense of and move forward from these events.
I desire to walk hand and hand with God who can comfort me when I hurt and suffer. I choose to celebrate God's provision in good times. I choose to walk through dark valleys of death with a bravado that can only come from a deep trust in the one who said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you," (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV)