Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When Meteorology leads to Theology

It must have been the summer of '95 when baseball cards were overproduced and my best friend and I waited breathlessly for the Beckett price guide to arrive in the mail the first week of every month.  It must have been, because I can't remember another time we would've risked getting soaked and having our bike-rides severely affected by slippery streets in order to buy a pack of the new Topps Stadium Club at a department store more than a mile away. 

I remember it well because I had never been afraid of lightning before.  But as we anticipated the last corner of the ride and slowed down just enough to make the turn without skidding out, I felt a sizzling sensation as the hair on my neck stood up. 


It wasn't a boom or a bang.  It was a sharp crackle that quickly exploded right next to me.  A flagpole - within an arms length as I passed by - had just been struck by lightning.

Even though I hadn't been hit, the feeling paralyzed me for the next few years every time I was outside in a storm.

Fast-forward to the summer of '98. I was working towards becoming "one of the Few" at Parris Island South Carolina.  Marine Corps boot camp thrives on disorientation and intimidation - especially during the first few weeks.  We were marching from the chow-hall to the barracks when the sky quickly thickened, then opened up, drenching us within seconds of the first drop falling.  Despite orders to get our platoon to the barracks as soon as possible, the toughest of our drill-instructors marched us as if the sun were shining.  He was Force-Recon, a sniper, and refused to allow weather to interfere with training. 

"A left, A left, A left, right!"  He called as if he were singing a question.  "A left, A left, A lefty right!" He finished his melody. 


You know the lightning's close when you hear it the same time you see it.  Our D.I. departed from his script with a two word curse towards the sky and quickly commanded us to run back to the barracks.  Lowering my rifle to below the plane of most of the other rifles, I got back under cover as soon as possible. 

Why does this memory come up every time there's a thunderstorm? 

I remember being struck by the one time our Drill Instructor acknowledged a greater authority. Sure, we had learned the chain of command.  We knew there were officers in charge.  But the D.I.'s were our gods during boot camp.  They disciplined.  They trained.  They gave and they took away. 

Though very brief, during that one split second, another Being came in, made Himself known, and it was all I needed.  Look at what the Psalms say on this matter:
I know that the LORD is great, that our LORD is greater than all gods...He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
How often do we take the creation around us for granted?  How easy is it for us to allow all the other things in our life to distract us from the Author of salvation.  Praise God for the lightning, sunsets and nor'easter's that remind us of who's in control. 

I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.


Milo Wilson said...

Isn't this another good reason for you to go by the nickname Powder?

Jeremy said...

Wow, good memory. I had no idea you were around for the sliver of time that was my nickname.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.