A One-Night Stand with Fear

Blown Over

Waiting out the Wind

We listened as the wind screeched down our narrow canyon. The reporters had warned us, as breathlessly as if they’d donated their own air to the cause, that this windstorm was to be The Big One: “Hurricane-force gusts,” they promised. Through the howl we heard booms and thuds. I half-expected to see a cow fly by, sucked up in the swirling forces at work outside.

Except I couldn’t see outside. It was dark. Oh, it had been windy during the day. We’d watched the eucalyptus trees bend to the west, never guessing that wood might be so limber.  But the storm’s crescendo rode in under cover of night.

The darkness magnified my terror. What if the roof blows off? What if a tree crashes into the house? What if the power line goes down, whipping like a mad snake across the ground, and darkness marches right into our living room?

Bending under Pressure

I could think of nothing beyond the ferocious tempest that rattled our windows and made the oaks shiver and moan.

I would like to tell you that I prayed to God for His peace, His protection, His comfort. But I didn’t. My heart, overflowing with anxiety, was wholly focused on my dread.

That windy, noisy night, I handed my heart to fear, clinging to it close as a lover.

We sheltered indoors like little piggies hiding from predatory zephyrs. Sleep came late and weak that night as snapping sounds invaded our dreams.

Morning came, and light. We stepped outside to inventory the storm’s spoils. The roof had held. The flagpole still stood. “Praise God,” I said.

Coward that I was, I didn’t kick out the fear until I saw that we were safe, Once it left, I felt a little empty place. Then it hit me:

During the night, fear had become my idol. I might as well have knelt before it.

Surveying more carefully, I noticed, down in our sloping back yard, a eucalyptus limb, snapped off like a pencil in the hands of a fretful student at test-time.

 Sheared Off

My husband had said we needed to cut that limb out, as it crowded our roof. He’d studied all the angles, looking for a safe way to get at it. We’d planned to call the tree man, to pay him for the risk we didn’t want to assume in the climbing and the sawing and the dropping to earth.

And the wind, that fearsome monster, had torn away that renegade limb while we huddled inside, fearing.

It was good, what we found when the light came.

It was good, to feel my love for God reclaiming my heart.

14 Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14 (NASB)