I used to be much more fearless.
For several years, I lived in the heart of tornado alley — Oklahoma.
When I was a senior at Oklahoma State, my mom may have tracked me down at the Wormy Dog Saloon, calling the bartender to let me know to find shelter. (Yes, it was 1999. Cell phones weren’t an extension of our hands, as they are now.) Apparently, a historic tornado outbreak sprung up in the Great Plains, and some were headed directly for Stillwater. My friends and I may or may not have actually done anything about it. (Not naming any names. Ahem, Cindy.) What can I say? We were graduating in days. Time to live it up. Weather be darned.
Just a few years ago, I was with my brother, Willy, in a pasture of the ranch he manages in the same great state. Again, in the spring. My cousin, Lisa, in Indiana called to let me know tornado warnings had been issued all across Oklahoma. (She’s a weather junkie. Obviously, Willy and I are not.) She said we should take immediate cover. But we were in the midst of a great photo shoot. We didn’t *see* a tornado. So we kept shooting.
I never said we were smart.
And I did get an award-winning photo from that day. Hashtag: worth it.
But having experienced loss recently, I know that heartbreak. To put it mildly, I don’t like it. Not one bit. And I don’t care to experience it again any time soon.
So when a simple tornado watch was issued here in Illinois last week, while our kids were in school, something strange happened.
I was scared. Like, crazy scared.
Should I go to the schools and pick them up, rather than letting them ride the bus home? What if a tornado sprung up while the bus was on the roads, with the kids? What if a tornado arose while I was in the Suburban with them, driving them home?
My mind began to go down some scary paths. My anxiety kept on rising. And then I realized — this wasn’t from God. It wasn’t rational. I needed faith.
So I pulled up my Bible app and began to dig into scriptures on fear and anxiety and trust.
And you know what? My mind began to feel at ease again. My heart was in a better place. And I knew it was all going to be OK.
Our bus driver is one of the best, and he cares about our kids as if they were his own.
It was just a watch — not a warning.
God’s got this.
And you know what? He sure did.
The watch was cancelled. Our kids made it home just fine. (Thanks, Tim!) And our 10-year-old, Nolan, even ventured to the ditch down the road to try to catch some fish. (No fish. Maybe next time.)
Seek the truth.
A dear friend of mine recently reminded me that anxiety isn’t from God. It’s Satan at work. Satan isn’t creative and he goes for the easy distractions, to take our minds off the truth.
What’s the thing that will throw you off course the most? That’s where he’s going to attack.
And when he does? It’s time to refocus on what we know to be true.
“He will cover you wit his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge…” Psalm 91:4
No doubt, we are all going to have real issues to handle in our lives. We aren’t just going to avoid trials. And God never promised a life without struggles.
But anxiety is not from God. It simply cuts us off from the true source of strength and peace.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll even venture back into a cattle pasture during the next warning, the next time the weather gets crazy. Talk about an award-winning shot… or not.