Thursday, July 20, 2017

There's A Storm Blowing In

When I was a child, the front porch was a good place to get a little breeze and cool off a bit in the summer.  We had five huge poplar trees in the front yard.  Four of them were planted just right to work as permanent bases for  rousing games of kick ball.  There was an ancient cedar on the left side of the house and then numerous tall trees around the perimeter of our yard.  Our little house was nestled under those giants making for some great summer shade.

The front porch had Grandma's houseplants hanging from every conceivable place. She had lots of wandering Jew, devil's ivy and pots of mother in law's tongue.  Many of her plants she had kept alive for decades.  Each plant held some kind of memory for her as relatives and friends had passed along a rooting or cutting of each.  No one went to the plant nursery and bought house plants in those days.

We had an ancient metal couch and metal garden chairs on the front porch.  The furniture had been painted and repainted fifty times with every conceivable shade and little bits of color could be seen through the cracks in the paint.  The plethora of random colors always fascinated me.   The wooden slat porch floor was painted blue gray and for some reason it buckled slightly on the side opposite the front steps. The warped wood caused me a lot of consternation as a little girl.  Hydrangeas and snowball bushes grew up next to the porch hemming it in on both sides.

 A couple of pencil cedars stood sentinel in the front growing in hard almost barren soil.

The sturdy ornate screen door that led out to the porch had a brass handle and door knob and a spring that caused it to make a distinctive slamming noise as we went in and out of the house.  From the front porch one could see the Sutton's woods across the road and the two big mill stones that stood upright on each side of their driveway.  Our mailbox lurched slightly by the left side of the graveled driveway and a tall lone black walnut tree stood on the right by the road.

Nothing much changed in our house and yard.  The same shrubbery, black walnut tree, screen door, and mailbox were still there when we finally cleaned out the house to sell after my dad passed away in his 90's.  The metal couch and chairs were stolen from the front porch when he had to go to assisted living in the last few years of his life.  That furniture probably brought a couple of hundred bucks to the thieves but it contained the invaluable collective memories of thousands of days in our family history.

Some hot afternoons we would all be sitting on the porch listening to the crickets and cicadas when the sky would grow dark with storm clouds.  The wind would pick up and a sweet cool breeze would blow across that front porch.  The first big drops of rain would splatter hard against the ground and sometimes onto the porch, but we would linger smelling that musty good smell that a summer rain brings.  The winds would grow higher causing the trees to creak and bend. Sheets of rain would beat down hard until the summer green was barely visible through the gray of the rain.  Mama said it was time to go in when the thunder clapped loud and hard and the lightening strikes were close by.

Mama or Daddy would kill the breaker to the water heater for fear as they said  "that the lightening would run in on it." Often the power would be knocked off causing Mama and Grandma to light the kerosene lamps.  Storms were exciting and just a bit scary.  We unplugged everything electric in the house and we were weren't allowed to use the faucets for fear we would be electrocuted.  We were even admonished by an uncle not to use the toilet for the same reason.  We had a lightening rod beside the house.  My parents took storms seriously, maybe a bit too seriously.

The storm would rage but we would be snug and dry as we waited for the storm to pass.  We felt safe though.  We were with our parents and our grandma.  In our little white frame house we believed nothing could touch us.  The storms would howl and rage outside and the big trees around our house moved in tune with the wind.  Finally the storm would pass and the sun would shine again sparkling on the rivulets of water as gravity pulled them to the lowest spots.

Life has its storms as well.  They are coming no matter what we do to try and prevent them. We can do some damage control just like my parents did by seeking shelter and looking for ways to minimize the impact.   The storms of life do not have to destroy us.  They can cause us to seek shelter and find fellowship and help from our Father.  They can help us to gain the right perspective that we are not the ones in control.  They can even reveal something of beauty that we would never behold apart from the storm. One thing about a physical storm is that it comes in fast and hard threatening to undo us.  Usually within a short time, it has expended all of its fury and peace will return.  It is the same way with the storms of life, they will soon blow out their energy and be past as well. Until that happens we have an anchor, His name is Jesus.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary.

Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you. To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

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