Pausing During a Thunderstorm

LightningIt’s a busy time of year. There are back-to-school kickoff events to organize, lesson plans to pull together, and we’re working hard to get the youth and leaders are all excited about what the year ahead will bring. Personally, I’ve been pretty swamped lately — you? 
I just started a new job (I’m a volunteer youth leader with a full-time day job), so I have another schedule to adjust to and a learning curve to navigate. This summer has been jam-packed with my wife, Sonja, and I running from one event to the next each weekend. Even our brief vacations have felt rushed. Now, we’re gearing up for the school year, getting ready to jump headfirst into another season of youth ministry, and things feel a little crazy.
You know what, though? I thrive on action. I’d much rather be busy than bored. If there’s a lot to do, I feel as if there’s a lot I can accomplish over the course of a day. I personally feel like I can handle pressure well and I don’t mind rising to a challenge. 
That’s not always the easiest thing, especially for me and especially this time of the year.
However, last week, I did take the opportunity to be still-even if only for a few minutes. I can’t claim credit for the idea, though; that belongs to Sonja. It was evening, and the beginnings of a New England summer thunderstorm began to roll in from the distance. Even though it still was early, Sonja asked if we could turn in.
“Let’s go to bed early and listen to the thunderstorm,” she said.
I thought about it for a second, saved what I was working on, and powered down my laptop. Being with her for a few minutes was better than accomplishing something else on my to-do list alone on the couch, so I brushed my teeth and climbed into bed.
We lay there with the lights off. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I started to make out details in the room: the soft glow of the neighbor’s lights through our curtains, the clock on the wall ticking away the seconds and minutes, pictures of us framed on her dresser. 
Then, the storm began with soft rumbling in the distance-the thunder almost like an echo of itself. As the clouds sped near, so did the sounds. Rumbles built to dramatic crescendos, thundering overhead. The lightning, faint at first, began to flash with increasing intensity. The room lit up in instants-bright and white and clear as day-before going pitch black. Soon, the storm was on top of us. Sonja ducked her head into my shoulder as the storm started to pound down on the house. There wasn’t any space between the claps of thunder and the lightning, just a tremendous show of the power of nature put on in sound and sight.
As quickly as it began, the storm passed. Sonja began to relax and so did I. I started to drift off, not really thinking of anything. That’s a change from the usual internal storm as my mind races until I pass out. I slept that night in peace, completely dreamless.
I think I need those times of “being still” to come around more often (and it’s up to me to make it happen).
When I’m too busy to take a break, I need to remember that I’m not in control.
When the world is shouting, I need to remember He speaks in a whisper.
(Photo via Carolune via Flickr)

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