You would think that my brain would have registered that it wasn’t a good idea to run when I saw the ominous sky in the distance, but it didn’t. I was eager to hang out with my friend Grace today, and we had decided much earlier in the day that we were going jogging. I’m driving down the curvy roads of the Riverhills community in Temple Terrace and I hear some thunder off in the distance. It didn’t matter because I was set on running with Grace. I get to her house and it’s getting even gloomier there, but hey, that’s ok right? It’s nearly 100 degrees outside, so rain would feel nice! After discussing the sky and the thunder for a moment, we figured we could get at least a half an hour of jogging in before the storm hit. We started power walking through her tree covered neighborhood and within five minutes it was sprinkling. The rain felt nice and who doesn’t love the smell of fresh rainfall? We were about a mile or so from her house when we first saw the lightning. It was up in the clouds, and any normal person would have said, “oh it’s lighting, let’s go home.” But we are not normal people. On we walked while discussing the most recent storm that hit temple terrace. She was telling me that in the previously said storm, a house in their neighborhood had been hit by lightning and caught fire. But our conversation quickly changed to happier thoughts, like my sister’s graduation and her upcoming trip to be a camp counselor. On we walked, further and further from her house. Then the rain started to pick up, but still we kept going. Lightning struck down in the not so far off distance and we looked at each other with worry. She reassured my worrying face by telling me that only 15 people get struck by lighting every year. And then it happened. A loud crack above our heads and lightning struck down within 300 feet of us. We both ducked, as if that would help lightning from not hitting us, and screamed. We took off toward her house running like raving lunatics. Neither of us remember the last time that we had run that fast. Just then, again, a loud crack and lightning struck a tree about 100 feet in front of us. More screaming and running like raving lunatics. All I can think about is lightning only hits fifteen people per year and we were about to be two of those fifteen. At this point we are running screaming “WHAT DO WE DO?!?!?” Grace asks God to be with us and keep us safe. We continue running. There are plenty of houses nearby, but what would someone think if we just ran up and took shelter on their porch? As we are running by the house across the street from the tree that was just hit, I see a little face staring out the window. I don’t know if she saw the pure terror in my face and took pity, but she ran to her door and called us to come inside. We book it to this stranger’s house and she let’s us in her sheltering home. She gave us towels to dry off and even gave us a ride back to Grace’s house. We feel extremely thankful to this woman who’s kindness might have saved us from getting struck by lightning. She will be getting a plate full of cookies from me tomorrow.
So here are the top 5 lessons I learned today:
1. If you hear thunder, see lightning, or it starts raining DO NOT GO RUNNING. Seriously. Use your brain.
2. Tampa is the lightning capitol of the United States, and Temple Terrace is the capitol of that capitol because we are at a higher elevation than most cities. (According to the kind woman that saved us)
3. Ducking from lightning won’t keep you from getting struck by it, obviously.
4. If you see some poor soul(s) running out in a storm, let them inside.
5. Pray ALWAYS. Not just when things are going bad.
On a more serious note, this whole situation has made me think about the similarities between today’s happenings and our relationship with God. How many times are we the people who think we know best? We are the people that say, “No, the sky doesn’t look that bad. No, we can make it a little longer.” And we are running further and further away from God. Then lightning strikes and we realize that we are really far away from safety. We start running screaming “WHAT DO WE DO!? HOW DID WE GET HERE?!” You start to rethink all the stupid decisions you’ve made that led you to where you are. You say a prayer and start running back to safety. Then you see it, the face sitting by the window waiting for you to realize that you made a mistake. God let’s you into his house, comforts you and keeps you safe from the storms of life. I am thankful to God for so many things, and his forgiveness and grace is what saves me from being lost. So whenever you think you know what’s best, remember that God knows all. Past, present, or future, God knows all and has a plan. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will keep your paths straight.”
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7