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You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day” – Psalm 95:1
Tornadoes! Wild, violent weather! Destruction of homes, entire communities. A death toll now over 100. This has been the reality of the USA in just the past 7-8 days. Last Thursday many of us were glued to WGAL as it preempted prime time news and early evening TV to show us the ominous red lines marching across the screen bearing down on communities, threatening with more tornadoes or straight line winds sure to do serious, life-threatening damage. That night a wave of storms left Carlisle reeling and large parts of the Susquehanna Valley without power. No losses of life, but serious disruption of lives.
The next day, Dianne and I headed out for a Memorial Day Vacation trip down I-81 into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The weather forecast was for more severe thunderstorms, some of them with tornadic potential. We were traveling between 4:30-9:00 pm, prime time for such threats. Trust me I watched for dark skies and threatening clouds. Near Chambersburg the emergency warning system captured my radio station broadcasting a tornado warning. One had been on the ground and was headed (and they recounted the path). Fortunately it was to the north and west of me by a number of miles but I saw the edge of the storm with its malevolent dark clouds and pushed my accelerator a little harder to distance myself even more.
Normally I tend to be detached from threats. Each day our media pronounces still another threat from our food, the internet, a weather front, Islamic terrorists, a nuclear disaster half a world away. But the dark skies brought this threat quite close to home. Exposed as I was on the highway (far from my basement), I found myself a little more alert to danger, praying a little more fervently and frequently. And that’s probably as it should be.
Alertness and fear are two different things. David writes: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23.4). I might paraphrase, “There is no dark sky that you must live under that is greater than God;s protection.”
But more explicitly, awareness of the threats, alert to their danger, does not mean we need stop living or go into hiding. David also wrote: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day …” (Psalm 95:1). Here he referred to those who must live in the battle zone, under the dark skies of this life’s spiritual warfare and its physical counterparts. The God who makes us alert to the threats, also gives us the protection and the power to live – and thrive – and serve Him to the fullest. That means we can keep on traveling down the road of his kingdom service, even when we must travel under dark skies.
(C) Stephen L Dunn 2011