The first time I really travelled (beyond Mexico/USA) was to Japan in 2002. It rained often during the season we were there, but without any thunder or lightening. I hungered for more than wet.
After several weeks there, I sat on the small church porch in the early a.m. hours enjoying the soaking of a nice rain after a midnight run to the beach. I really wanted some lightening, some sign of power from this perpetual leaking from the sky. At a pivotal moment in my prayer that night - lightning flashed across the sky accompanied by a low rumble. Priceless.
The next summer took me to Bangkok, Thailand. One weekend, we escaped the city pollution for some beach air and an English-teaching camp-out. First night, a major storm hit. We had been swimming when it quickly rolled in, and I stayed out in the water. I'll never forget floating on the surface of the sea as the rain fell harder and harder, dark thunder clouds rolling in overhead. It was mystical and I couldn't tear myself away.
This storm didn't wait to be asked - there was plenty of thunder and lightning. As the storm grew worse I gave into the wise pleas of my friend and got out of the choppy sea, but couldn't tear my gaze from the view out beyond. The clouds were dark, but looking across the ocean there remained a window of blue sky, like a light at the end of a long tunnel. Massive raindrops pounded the sea, the skies grew ever fierce and darker as thunder and lightning crashed - but the blue sky far ahead was never completely overtaken.
That image was burned into my soul. A few days later a young Thai artists helped me recreate the image on the back of my small Bible. The language barrier was tough as I tried to communicate my vision: looking over the ocean, storm clouds rolling in, but a constant presence of light and peaceful sky always in sight. That image continues to bring hope to my heart even on the darkest of days. It's my happy place.
I've seen my share of major storms as a Texas gal. Through grade-school I huddled in hallways, face down against the wall, hands behind my neck as instructed with storm sirens blaring. I've watched clouds separate and skies turn from dark to green, to deathly calm...to spinning. I've watched tornadic storms approach from the driveway with my dad and seen what happens when a tornado plays hopscotch jumping over your house, only to level a nearby town.
I stayed up most of the night last night waiting for updates on the storms, praying for those in the paths, and grieving at the devastating reports - especially those of the elementary schools that were hit. Storms are incredible, awe-inspiring, and at times, crippling. Our prayers continue from Jerusalem, for all of you scared, hurt, homeless, and grieving in the wake of these storms. We pray for the blue sky horizon to become visible, and bring hope, as we continue to praise our GOD through the storms.