I am heading north on the twenty-six mile Causeway that connects New Orleans to Mandeville when I hear it. A distant roar that grows louder by the second. The massive tornado reflected in my rearview mirror electrifies me. Her fury begins to rock my car even though she is still some distance away. I want to flee, but I am trapped in traffic in the middle of Lake Ponchartrain. There is no place to go. The power and beauty of the approaching storm rivet my gaze.
There isn’t much time to watch. The tornado sweeps me into her vortex suddenly. She rips me from my car; I whirl free above the earth. Adrenaline surges through me—for a moment, I am exhilarated.
Then the monster’s roar increases. She propels me high above the lake at ever-increasing speed. The wind has me at her mercy. I cannot resist, but I try. I kick and flail in desperation. I scream rebukes in Jesus’ name.
I fight to awaken, aware even in the dream that it will stop if I can just wake up.
Finally, the dream spits me out. I awaken. “Why God?” I cry, as I shake and sweat. “Why won’t it stop?”
There is no answer. I turn on the light and get my Bible. “Please help me. I need rest. I need peace!”
I look up whirlwinds, tornados, storms...nothing makes sense. Jesus rebuked the wind and waves and they stopped. Why won’t the dream stop at my rebuke?
I fall asleep with the lights on—my Bible on my face. In a moment, the alarm blares the arrival of a new day.
I straggle through my daily tasks. Fear bullies me through the evening. I resist sleep as long as possible, but finally succumb. The dream returns, seizing me like something alive. I fight desperately to escape, only to awaken in terror again. Night after night, week after week, I get little sleep and live in dread.
Some time later, I am on my knees preparing for my nightly battle. An Amy Grant CD plays softly in the background as I beg God for help and understanding. Suddenly, a lyric arrests me, “And the mighty wind that knocks us down, if we lean into it, will drive our fears away.”* I grab the CD insert and read the words again.
A line of scripture from my evening reading echoes in my mind, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”**
“You’re with me!” My heart fills with hope. “I don’t need to be afraid!”
I get in bed with confidence. I know the dream will come, but I know God will be there.
Almost as soon as I close my eyes, it begins. As horror threatens to overpower me, I remember He is there. Instead of fighting, I relax. The demonic storm propels me higher and faster than ever before, but I have no fear. Gradually, she winds down and dies away. I awaken victorious.
Fourteen years have passed since this nightmare plagued me. In that time, I have faced many real storms. Sometimes they are merely a byproduct of life in this fallen world. At other times, they are the result of sin that masquerades as something innocent and exciting, but morphs from gentle breeze to hurricane before I know it.
I have learned an invaluable lesson in survival from my dream. I do not fight storms. I relax in my Savior’s embrace and allow them to rage until they wind down. Storms always wind down.
The worst this world offers is nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits me when this life finally ends. I do not enjoy suffering, but I am glad that I have found rest in life’s furious vortex, as I whirl free above the earth with Jesus. One day soon, I will awake, and be at rest in the Son forever.
*How Can We See That Far? Heart in Motion, Grant, Hemby.
**Matthew 28:20 NIV
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