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Grocery shopping is a weekly errand for us like it is for all other families. We make our list, shop for the best prices through coupons, then we make the trek together to gather what we need to sustain our lives for another week of hospitality with new friends and quiet meals for two. But, we not infrequently are greeted with a surprise.
We parked in the lot of a local grocery store. Methodically, we ticked off the items on our shopping list. Our basket was full.
At the check out counter, we engaged our check with some fun conversation. I bagged our purchases. With a friendly wave and finally cheerful note, our checker wished us a happy rest of our day.
Then, we noticed that there was a back up of customers at the exit. We were curious as to the growing crowd. As we drew closer we could quickly assess the hold up.
When we had entered the store, the humidity outside was remarkable. You could feel the heavy moisture laden atmosphere that has made Houston famous. High temperatures combined with that elevated humidity to test the human spirit’s resolve to be positive about the day.
Now, God sent us Houstonians a gift. The weather elements forced the dew point to reach its maximum saturation point. No, it did not just rain, it poured.
Punctuated by thunder and lightning, torrents poured down from the dark grey clouds above. It was spectacular. On our walk into the store, the ground was dry.
Now, the parking lot was turning into one massive shallow pool. Huge rain drops were exploding in the newly formed puddles. Shoppers patiently, waited under the eave of the store knowing that the storm would abate soon.
Any attempt to hurry to our vehicles would mean fording the stream, soaking our feet and letting our groceries take a bath before we could ever stow them safely in our trunks. In the mean time, we were entertained by the lightning strikes through the dark clouds above. Ribbons of shattering light sizzled through the sky, punctuated by thunder seconds after the flashes of electrical currents found safe grounding below.
Almost as soon as the storm started, it ceased. Shoppers pushed their buggies through the moistened asphalt, easily splashing through the residual standing water. All who know Houston smiled.
Not only was the storm entertaining, there was also a side benefit of the storm. God took away all of the humidity. It was now squeezed out of the sky and washed down the drain.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography
Then, the massive raindrops peppered our rental car like a snare drummer performing an ever-increasing drum roll. Even with the windshield wipers on high, the clearing for visibility seemed like a lost cause. While protected, I felt encased in a tiny escape capsule, hoping for much more protection.
The sky was dark. That contrast is amazing since it was only 4PM in the afternoon. A sign lit up on the side of the freeway, “Hurricane season is here. Be prepared.”
Another sign gave some comfort but also odd realization. “Hurricane route is open.” There is some education that awaits me on this new awareness.
Then, like a figure of the Almighty touching the earth, a huge lightening bolt sizzled from the clouds, zig zagging all the way to the ground and pulverized the air around it for over a second. Mere moments followed and a clap of thunder shook the road and our car. Stunning power!
By the time we safely arrived back at our hotel, the storm was dissipating quickly. Lightening strikes were now many miles away. The distance between the flashes of electrical brilliance and the subsequent thunder was growing.
Instead of shaking your jaw, dilating your pupils or raising your eyebrows, the distant thunder was now a low-level rumble. The dark clouds were now being diluted with a silver lining as clear skies began to reappear. These Texas storms come suddenly then move away just as swiftly.
On the West Coast we just zip up our jacket a little higher and go about our business. Here deep in the heart of Texas, people pause and watch. They take it all in because it is worth a witness.
When the earth shakes and the skies erupt in a dance of power, it is worth looking. Ancients misunderstood this kind of weather to be the expression of angry gods. They were wrong.
The most violent of storms is merely an expression of the laws of God that He set in place long ago. His power is beyond comparison. This storm as stunning as it is doesn’t compare to what He can do. Now, that is a storm!
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography