The sun came out today. It shone brilliant and bold as I drove my son to work. I hadn’t thought to bring my sunglasses along for the short ride. I wasn’t expecting to see the sun today.

The pale blue sky, striped with soft white clouds, settled over the variegated greens of the grass and treetops. The colors reminded me of my daughter as she left for work this morning. Dressed in a pale blue and white striped blouse tucked neatly into a soft green skirt, did she know her outfit would foreshadow the natural beauty I was soon to witness outside? 

That the sun was shining on this mid-June day should have come as no real surprise. This is the glorious season in the Northeast, after all, the one we wait for all year long. My surprise at seeing the sun today was more a reflection of the trust I had placed in the weather predictions I had observed in my weather app. Checking my weather app the night before, I saw for the next five days nothing but the lightening bolt icon. No sun. No clouds. Just lightening bolts. 

Did I mention it’s summer in the Northeast? Thunder and lightening are an expected part of life in the Northeast in the summer. Most days we can expect a little thunder and lightening to accompany our late afternoon hours. But these weather patterns don’t last all day. They’re passing storms. 

How often in life, I wonder, do we sum up an entire day—an entire week—with a lightening bolt, when what we’re experiencing is really just a passing storm? 

Storms, I have come to discover, are a part of life. In most every season, we will experience sunshine, soft rain showers and frightening thunderstorms all in the same day.The temptation is to see only the thunderstorm. Our challenge is to look for glimmers of beauty even in the midst of a rainy season. 

In the storms of life, don’t we often see only what is broken or scary? It’s human nature to want to protect ourselves and to fixate on the things we wish we could change. When we do this, we forget to look up. It’s only when we look up that God can lift our eye to see what he wants us to see. When we look away from him, all we see are the lightening bolts. The diagnosis. Our job prospects. Our struggling marriage or dating relationship. Our children’s health and well-being. 

I don’t know what the future holds, but this I know. There’s no storm he can’t quiet. There’s no darkness he can’t make light. There’s no fire he’s afraid to walk through with you, no flood in which he won’t be present with you. He is there in the trials and in every storm. He provides a feast for us in the midst of our fight. We just need to look up, open our eyes and begin to become aware of his presence and provision. His gifts of beauty and joy are there in the shadows of the storm clouds.

Storms are always brewing. But in their company stand joys too numerous to count, if we will but look up, and search for them. Will we define our day by the passing storm or by the passing sunshine?  

The skies have clouded over again. There will be no need for sunglasses when I take my dog out for her afternoon walk. The thunderstorm will come as predicted, but it will be just a passing storm. The lightening bolt has not defined my day. 

Today held the beauty of a color-blocked landscape—pale blue resting on vibrant green. Today carried the surprise of glorious sunshine dappling through a canopy of sycamore leaves. In the sunshine I remember the joy of my family gathered together for Father’s Day weekend. I give thanks for my family, knowing that as I practice gratitude, I open my heart to receive more beauty, more joy.

Today also brought a cloud-filled sky, the perfect environment in which to quiet myself enough to capture these thoughts and record them. I see the gift of clouds and shade as a gift of grace and remember how much God loves me.

Today I experienced far more than just a lightening bolt. In the coming storm I remember my heavenly Father’s hand of protection over my past and know he holds me in my present and will provide for me in my future. 

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