Last summer our family and my husband’s sister’s family went to Lassen National Volcanic Park. We spent almost a week taking small hikes to thermal areas, eating lunch by mountain lakes, and creating wonderful memories together. It was a perfect family vacation.
On one of our last days, we took a 3 mile hike to some beautiful lakes so the kids could swim. The hike began at about 7,500 feet elevation and it was almost all down hill, which meant the hike out was going to be a tad more difficult for the kids and my sister in law, who was carrying my 1 year old niece on her back in the ever-so-handy Ergo. When we arrived at the lake we saw several thunderheads approaching, still we stayed at the lake until the kids had their fill of swimming. Once they had swam enough and reached the point of exhaustion, Paul, Jason, and Isabella decided to hike a bit further to look at another lake while Jessica and I gathered the rest of the kids for an uphill hike back to the car.
We began the hike back directly below the ominous sky and we weren’t too far up before I heard the very loud thunder directly above our heads. Immediately, I looked back at Jessica with an expression of “WE ARE GOING TO DIE,” on my face and without waiting for us to come up with a game plan of how not to die, I picked up my 4 year old, cradling him like a baby and grabbed Gracelyn’s hand and ran, leaving my sister-in-law to save her own life. I realize now, this wasn’t the most selfless of decisions.
Meanwhile Paul had Isabella, who is very fearful of storms, and I knew this was going to be a challenge for her. When they had first heard the thunder they were crossing some rocks with Isabella several paces behind him. He looked back at her and seeing the fear in her eyes, he told her that it was okay. He took a few more steps ahead and all of a sudden she was standing next to him clutching his hand. Throughout the hike back, she continued to act scared off and on and Paul told tell her the facts about the storm and in what ways they are safe. At one point it began to rain and after coaxing her a bit, this is the picture he took.
Arms outstretched in the middle of a lighting storm on a mountain top.
Once we got to our van, I waited for Paul and Isabella to arrive, convinced that they were struck by lighting while I was trying to catch my breath because it felt like I had swallowed a golf ball. This was due to the 7,500 ft altitude with lungs not accustomed to being in this high, let alone running.
I saw him sauntering up the hill and once he got in to the car, I told him how scared I was.
He asked “why?”
Me: “Because of the lighting. I thought we were going to die!”
Then I started crying. Sobs and all while he told me the many facts about the storm. The main fact being “the second rule.” Count the seconds between the thunder and lighting to determine how far the lighting is from the thunder, which is 10 seconds per 2 miles. We were out of the danger zone.
I realize that this story of frantically running up a mountain to outrun a lighting storm while carrying one child and dragging the other by the hand, leaving my sister behind to fend for herself and her two children, simply because I had forgotten the “second rule” can be told as a funny family story from a great family vacation that we will never forget.
However, it tends to be moments like these that my Father removes the curtain to shed light on something deeper and in this case, He used it to show me how I have wrongly believed who He is when I go through life’s storms. I believed that even if lighting doesn’t strike anyone else around me, it will strike me. And that is why I have to run. And not just run, but I have to do it all on my own.
On a February day, 12 years ago, we were told that our two identical twin boys were not going to survive outside of my womb because they had an autosomal recessive disease that affected their little kidneys and the chances of a child having this disease were very small. Both parents had to carry the mutated gene which was a 1 in 100,000 chance and even then, the child only had a 25% chance of getting the disease. And to be pregnant with identical babies is only a 1 in 285 chance.
We lost those two sweet baby boys, Joshua and Kaleb. The twins I asked God for since I was a little girl and then prayed for healing while they lived in my womb. They beat the odds and stayed with us for longer than the doctors anticipated. We held Joshua for almost a day and Kaleb for a day and a half. We buried these boys on a bright day in May in a little plot under a tree. I think of them every day. And not only do I miss them, but I remember the reason we lost them, chance.
These life altering, heartbreaking, never-be-the-same-again moments that were caused by chance. I knew I had to run to beat my odds by reason that these rules of being struck by lightning don’t apply to my life.
And so my Father asked me, “Do you want to run up the hill trying to outrun a storm with fear gripping your heart or do you want to be like your daughter? Holding my hand, as the rain pours, and the lighting strikes around you, while I tell you that you are safe?”
The answer is easy. I want to be safe with Him. Not because the lightning isn’t going to strike, but because when it does I am wrapped up beside Him and He tells me that my heart is safe. He tells me that He closes up the wound and tends to the scar by reminding me of His promises. His promises of redemption.
We aren’t guaranteed a life without any lightning, without any loss. However, we are promised a life where our Father walks with us on a mountaintop during our storms.