Last week, I had a lovely day trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to the Black Theater Festival with my teen daughters. We had a “White Girlz” trip catching a play, grabbing dinner, and visiting the vendors before we headed back home to Raleigh which is about 100 miles away. We began our sojourn at dusk. In Winston-Salem, the sun was beginning to set. After about 20 minutes on I-40 in Greensboro, the clouds became very dark. We were headed right into a storm.
I absolutely hate driving on the interstate when there is heavy rain. To me, there are too many other drivers who continue to drive fast without taking precaution. On this evening; however, from small car, to SUV, to tractor trailer every driver had respect for the power and force of nature as we all turned on our hazards, slowed to a crawl, or pulled over. Visibility was very low. Hail began to fall. Thunderstorm and flash flood warnings were going off on our phones. Even though we could not see it, my 16-year-old daughter said according to the GPS on her phone, there was an exit right in front of us with gas stations, fast food restaurants and hotels. I decided to get off and consider my options. The McDonald’s was the closest restaurant we saw. Several other cars were in the lot waiting for the storm to pass as well. I didn’t like the lot because on one side there were a lot of trees, and I could see one branch had already fallen while others were bending to the will of the wind. On the other side of the lot, though, were power lines. All the while, I see pools of water forming and darkness was upon us. I pull out my phone to look at the hotel apps I have. There was not a hotel available. I remember there was a national track and field meet in Greensboro. There was no other option but to wait for the rain let up, get back on the interstate, and pray.
This storm was symbolic of the storms in our lives. Sometimes, they come out of nowhere. What makes them especially startling to us is we were just in sunny skies—or rather life seems to be moving along smoothly as we were making plans for our next event, outing, or move. Without warning we are in complete darkness trying to figure out what to do next. Its human nature to try to control the situation and consider other options only to find there is only one option available and that is to go through the storm. This is an option that no one would voluntarily choose. Who would choose to drive in the dark, with hail, thunder and flash flooding? Who would choose to experience sudden loss be it health, a loved one, a relationship or income? Not me and I bet not you.
Driving in a storm is frightening. I began to pray when I saw those dark clouds with my two most precious treasures in life in the car with me. But, there is a different kind of prayer when the dark clouds are looming but I still felt like I had some control and when I got back on the interstate when the rain let up and a tractor trailer splashed blinding water on my windshield and I literally could not see for at least 2 seconds or however long it took for with wipers to come back across the windshield. There was nothing else I could do, but trust God.
Driving through this recent storm not only reminded me that sometimes we have to keep moving through the storm, but I was also reminded that no storm—even the ones with the darkest clouds—last forever. Sometimes our breakthrough is right on the other side. Though I certainly would have spent whatever it was going to cost to keep us safe had a hotel room been available, there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed. By the time I got to Burlington, the storm had turned to light rain and by the time I got to Chapel Hill, the roads appeared wet. By the time I got to Durham and then Raleigh, the interstate was completely dry.
I am so very thankful for God’s protection. I am equally thankful for the lessons from the storm: Sometimes you have to keep moving all while trusting God, and storms don’t last forever.