Anticipated summer rains bring peace that invites rest for the soul. However, an unexpected summer storm can be frightening. One summer day when I was 20 years old, the joy of sunshine turned quickly to a dark storm. It was on that day that the voice of the Lord rang out in a way I never expected.
Due to my pregnancy, I had passed on a day trip to the neighboring state theme park. I chose rest over racing from one ride to the next. As energy levels vary for expecting moms, I had made time for a nap. Being seven months pregnant, I knew the nap would boost my energy and make my evening work shift possible. The nap was ideal for the exhaustion I felt at that moment.
Without warning, a voice rang through the halls, the message loud and clear: “Joy, your windows are down in your car.”
Not expecting anyone to be in my house, fear gripped me; thinking someone had invaded my home while my husband was away was frightening.
Again, the rush of the words replayed in my mind, as I heard the sound of rain pelting against the side of the house. Wind was gusting, and thunder was booming out across the mountain range. A storm had come out of nowhere, and what was this message I had heard? My windows were down in my car.
Who said that?
Quick as a wink, I jumped from the bed to run and save my front seat from the downpour of rain. I took two steps away from the edge of the bed, and the piercing sound crashed into our home. There was an explosion, filling the room behind me with smoke.
What is happening? Could this be a dream, a nightmare?
At that moment, a thousand thoughts raced through my head.
My windows are down. It’s raining. Lightning has hit my house. Smoke is filling my room.
Lightning had hit a power outlet in our house, surging energy through the circuit and racing through a cord that exploded the dresser mirror, sending jagged mirror glass across the room. Glass was sticking out of the adjacent wall, and the bed I had just left was coated with glass, too.
Wait! The voice. I know I heard a voice tell me my windows were down.
Shaken from the fear of seeing the smoke-filled space, I responded quickly, walking with bare feet out of this room filled with busted glass. The quick response aided in my drive to get me and my unborn out of the house; we had to survive.
In the moments that followed, I realized it was God who had spoken a word that moved me to action. When I’d thought of hearing the voice of the Lord, a reminder that my car window was left down never made the list of what I imagined hearing God say to me. I would have thought something a little more biblical, like, “Joy, this is the way. Walk ye in it.”
However, on this blistering July day, the heavens would open up, the blue sky would fade to black, and the peace of a summer nap would be interrupted in a snap.
It began to sink in that the prayers of my morning to protect my husband as he traveled and to protect me as I stayed behind had been heard and answered. They may have seemed like such routine prayers. But on that hot summer day, they made the difference between life and death. The voice of the Lord and the hand of His protection was with me. God had protected my body and my firstborn child.
The hand of protection on me and my baby brings chills to me now, more than 27 years later. This was the second time in my life where the voice of the Lord called out and I heard and responded without hesitation. The voice was loud and clear, much like when I heard it that summer as a teenager, the day at the lake while lying in the sun. God spoke, I listened, and I responded. In both experiences, I was being protected by God, my Protector.
Often in my life when the sky grows dark and the rain pounds the roof, I reflect on the Scripture that teaches us how Jesus reacted to being caught in a storm: He slept. To sleep during a storm is a sign of peace and no worries. Being able to sleep through storms is a beautiful gift.
I figure if Jesus was not afraid of the wind and the rain, I do not need to be afraid. Jesus found rest in the storm when He was in the boat with His followers. He calmed the storm for the disciples, and He calmed the storm for me. Jesus protected me from the dangers of the thunder and lightning the same way He protected His disciples from the wind and the waves.
I figure if Jesus was not afraid of the wind and the rain, I do not need to be afraid.
Twenty years before protecting me and my unborn child, God showed up for my mother while she was carrying me in her womb. Similar to my experience, my mother was in her third trimester when she and my dad were in a tragic car accident. There were so many broken and bruised bodies found in the wreckage, but God’s hand protected and covered my mother’s stomach. She didn’t have a single bruise! He protected my mother while she was carrying me, and then He protected me while I was carrying my unborn son.
God does not always keep us out of the storms of life. But He always rides out the storms with us.
Excerpt from Rev. Joy Bryant's book, God Talks Back: One Woman's Lifetime of Prayers, and Their Unexpected Answers, published in October 2020.