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The Sky Is Very Dark, Auntie Em

April 4, 2007

Did I ever tell you about the time…

Oh it was about ten years ago … well maybe it was closer to 8 or 9 years. In any event, it was April and I was driving across the state to do a couple of things. First of all, it was my birthday. (my birthday is April 16 by the way — I’ll be 44 {or 22 twice as I prefer to say it})

Anyway, working for Tennessee Soccer, and on my birthday, I was driving from Cleveland to Memphis to conduct a soccer clinic in this little town near Memphis. And while I was going to be in Memphis, I was picking up my brother who was being discharged from the Navy. (but neither of those, or even my birthday, have anything to do with this story)

I was driving across the state in the Tennessee Soccer car. I was alone, which was fine. I had a cell phone, which I really didn’t know how to use … seems like when I needed it, it was always roaming and I finally ran out of charge. Anyway, as I was coming across Monteagle, the weather report said that there was a tornado watch. It was cloudy, but I really didn’t give it too much thought. I was over Monteagle, which to me would have been the worst place to deal with a thunderstorm.

And I remember thinking, “I’m almost to Nashville, and tornadoes never touch down in big cities.”

As I rolled through Nashville, looking to my right and seeing some of the big buildings, I remember thinking, “Wonder why you never hear of a tornado touching down in a big city?” And another thought I had was, “Wow! That’d be incredible damage if a tornado did touch down in a big city!”

And I drove on.

Then as I was just past Nashville, coming near Dickson, suddenly the bottom dropped out of the sky. It started raining “buckets” of rain. Traffic was heavy and barely moving. It eventually came to a standstill. There I sat on the interstate, in a car with no cell phone coverage that I could speak of … and I could not see anything except water — lots and lots of water.

Then the rain subsided a bit, but the traffic did not move but in inches. And it was almost suddenly that the sky began to darken. Now I don’t mean, just dark clouds …. I mean BLACK CLOUDS. These clouds hovered in and around all the cars on the interstate … and it started to hail. Huge pieces of ice falling from the sky. I cracked the window of the car and I could hear a roar, but I could not see a funnel cloud or anything that looked like animals or debris flying.

I was frightened. (I WAS FRIGHTENED, AUNTIE EM!)

I looked around for a place to hide in case I saw a funnel cloud.  I had just passed through an underpass, which I thought afterwards that I should have just pulled over to the side and waited it out. (but I didn’t)

Then I noticed a ravine next to the interstate, but there was a barbed-wire fence that I would have had to crawl under or between or over to get into the ditch.  And it had started raining again.  Then my pride, or vanity or just plain stupidity convinced me that “it would be too embarrassing to crawl down in that ditch if it was not a tornado … and I’d be all muddy and wet for nothing.”
Some logic, huh?  (OH, saving myself from sure injury or death is just too inconvenient right now)

Anyway, I sat there … basically a nervous wreck … and started praying, “Lord!  Help me, please. I think this may be a tornado. Yes, Lord …. I think maybe I’m very near a tornado. Help me.”

If it was any consolation, no one else was getting out of their car and laying in a ditch either.

We all sat there (and I’m assuming we were all praying) for about 10 or 15 mintues …. and then those black clouds rolled on their way … and the rain returned … and the traffic started to move again.  We were back on our way.

I turned on the radio and heard the announcer say, “A tornado has just touched down in downtown Nashville.”

And I thought, “What???”

Do you think that may have been planted in my head a minutes earlier as a “heads up?”

Those kind of PRE-THOUGHT things have happened to me quite a few times in my life.  I’d never call it “psychic” or “ESP” or anything like that.  But, I would call it a “Divine” Peck on the Shoulder to pay attention.  The thing is, I haven’t always paid attention.  Too often, I’m more consumed with the destination or end of my project to pay attention to “the moment at hand.”

Truth is, as I recount some of those pre-warned weather notices, I could have either avoided or at least had a better handle on a couple of life’s storms.

Being such a creative person … and having the large imagination that I do … I often mistake such “ponderings” as my own mental conjuring rather than God’s leading or direction.  Not that I am trying to put too much weight on my own thinking, I’m simply not still enough sometimes to give good discernment to the comings and goings of my mind.

This tornado thing happened many years ago when I was for the most part just “chasing my own tail.”  I think that I pay better attention now…some ten years later.   I hope I do anyway.

I know that some folks find it hard to believe that God actually speaks … and interacts with us here on Earth.  I believe that He does … but I believe that most of the time, we’re just not in tune with Him.

So maybe for folks like me, on occasion He just has to make the sky very dark … and send a storm to a completely random place … to get my full attention.

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