What I learned about our lives from a lightning bolt.

As the sky darkened, lightning lined distant clouds while my dog — a red brindle longhaired dachshund — crossed the mulch in our back yard. The thunder’s rumble, too far from us to faze to him, warned of an impending storm, a norm for five at night in a Florida summer.


I watched from the porch while Rudy frolicked, and I wondered if we should hurry, ’cause there’s a reason we call where I live the “lightning capital.” He wagged his tail and sniffed the earth with curiosity and bliss and innocence — until the lightning struck.

A bolt cracked a close cloud open. The back yard turned blue, and the flash happened at the same time as the boom. In an unforeseen twist of the evening’s plot, my dog’s curiosity dissolved into panic. He bolted, tail between his legs, aimless for a second before he ran through the door I held open for him. We ran together from the porch into the house, where I scooped him into my arms and carried him to the couch.

He was terrified.

He curled into a ball beside me, in constant contact with me for most of the rest of the night. But how he clung to me was not an exclusive result of the storm. He clings to me all the time. He wants to be as near to me after an unfortunate encounter with bad weather as he wants to be after he barely-chews-then-swallows a venison flavored square of glucosamine (his favorite treat). We share a lot of square feet, but he makes a daily dog-decision to stay within my immediate radius, regardless of his circumstances.

During the storm that followed the bolt, a metaphor emerged: My dog seeks the same stuff every day. What he seeks does not depend on circumstance. How often what I seek does.

As Christians, the seek part is easy. We know exactly what to seek.

Seek first the Kingdom…

But I will pore over page after page of scripture when I want to find a verse to prove a point; and I fail over and over to commit to ten solid minutes of Scripture a day, any other day. And I pray aloud, or in silence, or in writing, a lot when a crisis strikes or I see one coming; but I am likely to wait so late to sit down solely to pray any other day that I doze off as soon as I try.

Often, I’m like my dog during a thunderstorm. I run to help, to God, fast. I get close because I’m scared. Not often enough am I like my dog on any other day. Sitting calmly with my help even as there is no sense of urgency, clinging to God the best ways I know how, quietly nurturing a bond, spending quality time being close to him on purpose.

How aware I am now, thanks to that lightning bolt, that this needs work.

That we can seek the same stuff every day, regardless of circumstance.

And that we should.


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  • Beautifully stated. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Arleen

      Thanks so much for reading, Scott, and for the feedback!

  • Gail

    As I read your beautiful inspirational thoughts, I couldn’t help but think of a song by Larnelle Harris called “I Miss My Time With You.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCXEAIsBIfE When I had an interview with Larnelle in December, he shared the story behind the song: A favorite song, Harris said, is one he wrote after he got home from performing at a Billy Graham crusade. Though the singing had gone well, he’d felt something was wrong at the crusade.

    “Whatever this was nagged at me,” he said, “so I sat at the piano and started to play and out came I Miss My Time With You. And I went, ‘That’s it!’ God had me doing some inventory and was letting me see a principle here.”

    While he’d always known it was important to him to have time with the Lord each day, Harris said he hadn’t realized that God missed him when he didn’t take that time. He thought the song was meant just for him.

    “I didn’t even want to play it for the producers,” he said. “But Greg Nelson, who produced that project, asked what I’d written lately, and I said, ‘Well this little tune.’ He said, ‘Golly, yeah. We need people to hear that.’ So we recorded it, and it was on the charts for about 10 weeks.”

    • Arleen Spenceley

      Amazing, Gail!

  • John Morgan

    Well, you know God tells us to come to him as little children (Matt 18:3). Little children depend on their parents for their lives. Thanks for the reminder Arleen.