Everybody has a story about that Thursday And everybody who's hearing those stories, knows which Thursday that Thursday was, because they have a story too...as do I...
That Thursday was not, as you might expect, a dark and stormy night. Not at all. I was in the office all day, but i remember it to be a cool and sunny day. Imagine that. Our area had been weathering and recovering from the effects of very generous rainfall for more than a month, and since the weather had been so nice for a couple of days, I was caught completely by surprise when the sky turned dark at about 4:30 on that Thursday.
And then it really was a dark and stormy - evening, i guess.
Now, please understand. This is East Texas, where the rains don't always come, but when they come, they don't come lightly. They generally come with lightning and tornado watches, or possibly with hurricanes.
I have driven in weather. I have driven in pounding rain, in the dark, down the same narrow, winding, hilly roads through the woods, over and over again. And i am pretty good at it by now. To be honest, my only real concern is generally the less than exemplary actions of the drivers with whom i share those narrow roads in the rain. People get crazy when there's water on the road. I don't know why.
Because of this, when i got off work, and it was pounding rain, at 5:00 pm on that Thursday, I waited in my car, in the employee parking garage, for a few minutes, thinking i would let the people who are in too big of a hurry to notice the rain, get on their way. But when i entered the roadway, i knew immediately that this had not done me as much good as i hoped. This is because ... well, it was that Thursday.
Somehow, in the few minutes it had been raining, the roads were already collecting dangerously large ponds of water, and the water was moving, like a rushing river. The wind blew hard, horizontally from the left, and then, in seconds, it changed direction and blew hard horizontally from the right, changing the direction of the rushing river roadways and making the lanes and everything else very hard to see. The ditches were more than overflowing, most people were not moving fast, and the sky was just stinking scary.
Let me tell you something. I got scared.
"Turn around. Don't drown." they always tell you. But i was afraid to turn anywhere. If i stop, i might not go again, and if i turn off this road, i can't tell where the bottom is. No way, i'm not turning around.
That evening, driving home, i prayed a scripture more earnestly than i have ever even considered that scripture. I prayed, "Yea though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil..." And i was pretty sure i really was driving through the valley of the shadow of death.
It occurred to me later, and a little bit at the moment, that my prayer and my heart were definitely not in sync. While i was saying the words, "...i will fear no evil..." i was fearing a whole lot of evil.
I made it home. I didn't flood my car...or myself, as i had imagined a hundred times during my drive.
When i got out of the car, i was shaking. I sort of stumbled into my house, so thankful for my house. And a few minutes later, as i stopped to be thankful for making it home safely, i just burst into tears. I cried for a long time, and it was a few days before i was willing to drive again.
And i've thought about that day a lot, largely because i was so fearful. I'm not accustomed to being fearful. Fear requires way too much unpleasant mental energy. I don't like it. Ever since i was a little girl, and i was afraid of some imaginary creature under my bed, i would face it. I remember turning my head down (with my feet safely under the covers of course) the side of bed to where i could look under my my bed and yell at whatever was down there...satisfying my mind that i was safe. I don't like fear. I don't like scary movies. I just don't do it.
Jump ahead to today, when in my reading, I came to the source of my prayer from that Thursday: Psalm 23.
And as i read it, i realized why it might be really helpful for me to remember this Psalm from the beginning instead of the middle. It starts with the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want."
Doesn't that make you feel more at ease than "..though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death?"
It does me.