I write this while sitting in beautiful Hilton Head, South Carolina where I am helping out my parents for 10 days as my dad recovers from surgery. Dad is closing in on 86 years old. Frankly, surgery is not something you wish on anyone of this age, and yet, it was the only option. He’s gone from shuffling around, to walking with a cane, to relying on a walker, to barely lifting his foot as the pain in his knee went on for almost six months. During the last two weeks leading up to the surgery, my Dad had a near-death experience with a semi-trailer truck, had a dance with MRSA, had his identity stolen, had his bank account hacked and drained, fell backward and hit his head on the kitchen floor and dealt with a few heating and plumbing issues at home, just for good measure. While I haven’t had anywhere near the streak my Dad has recently, I have gone through my share of bad things, including the recent sudden passing of my cousins’ son and our beloved family dog, Abby.
Just to add to our troubles, the night before the surgery, I was driving my parents down a rough two-lane road with deep swampland on either side of me. It was pitch dark, and the traffic was heavy. We were less than 15 minutes from our destination in Savannah, Georgia when I saw something large blocking the entire width of my lane. With cars on my left whizzing in the opposite direction and an endless line of cars behind me, I had no real option to slow down. As my headlights hit the object squarely, just a few feet away now, I realized it was an alligator! Going to the right, off the road, was too risky as it meant possibly sinking into marsh or rolling the car on its side, so instead I headed into oncoming traffic to avoid the ancient beast. I ran over his massive tail and vaguely recall my parents’ screams as I watched headlights coming right at us. “Not tonight God,” I pleaded in my head, and as sure as I was that I was about to hit this car head on, we swiped each other toe-to-tail, and landed safely on what few inches of shoulder there was to catch our breath.
After all that happened, this terrifying moment somehow didn’t surprise me. In fact, I even burst out laughing once the shock wore down. As the saying goes, “What it rains, it pours.” It’s just how things tend to go—lots of bad things get wrapped up in one lovely package, more like a storm than just plain old rain.
But a front row seat to a thunderstorm does something interesting; it shows you the positive side of the dark cloud. So many people were praying for us the night of the alligator incident: my parents’ church members, our small group at church, my family and friends, co-workers; the list goes on. After that incident, we were far more grateful to know we were saved by the grace of God through prayers of intercession, than we were worried about how long or how much it would cost to fix the car. As each little issue we face gets closer to resolution, we see God’s hand bringing people forward to bless us or to be blessed by the conviction of our faith. Even the sweet, loving remarks written on our Facebook photos from the hospital provide a source of comfort and care much needed by all of us.
Back in 1914, the Morton Salt Company put a little girl holding an umbrella on their trademark blue salt cans. Her iconic umbrella has been shielding her from driving rain for over 100 years. The accompanying slogan, “When it rains, it pours,” was developed to communicate the unique feature of magnesium carbonate, which prevents salt from clumping in humid weather; meaning, quite literally, that when it rains, Morton Salt still pours. Even through the driving rain, there is still some good pouring out, adding seasoning to our lives.
Likewise, without the loving protection of God’s love as my umbrella, I may find that the only thing I see when the rain is pouring down all around me, soaking my shoes and socks, is a cold shiver I can’t shake. But through life’s never-ending showers, I find that God still pours out blessing upon blessing, despite the driving rain.