The first time I moved to New England it was for seminary. As a student, I wasn’t very aware of what was around me. I was there to study and stayed mostly on campus. I didn’t really know what was going on in the community beyond my church on Sunday mornings. But I did work at a local country club, teaching golf lessons, caddying, and selling pro shop merchandise. It was there that I first started to pay attention to the weather.
We would always have Doppler radar open on the computer and could tell when a storm was rolling in. We knew how to watch for shifts in the wind and the humidity because there’s nothing worse on a golf course than thunder and lighting. Turns out, you don’t want to be holding a metal pole in the air when it strikes.
When the storm was too close for comfort, we started standing by the door, waiting for the first distant rumble and once it was heard, we sprung into action. Grabbing a nearby golf cart, our resident golf pro would hop in and speed to the top of the course with an airhorn in his hands. He would fly up the hill to the highest point and blast the horn, signaling that it was time for golfers to come in.
It was not optional and it was imperative to their well-being that they make their way (quickly) to the clubhouse. We would grab their clubs, shuttle them to the parking lot, and wish them well, never giving them the option to risk staying out on the course. Avid golfers will stay on course in all kinds of conditions — wind, fog, rain, even snow —but the moment thunder rolls, all bets are off.
Those years built some sort of internal radar in me so much that I’m often the person in my friend group who knows the exact weather on any given day. I can tell you what conditions are ahead, not because I’m anxious, but because I’ve learned to pay attention. Thunder doesn’t rumble out of nowhere and storms move in over time.
Sometimes, when I start to pay attention to my own heart, I can sense when a storm is coming. When I am not spending time in God’s Word or haven’t been getting enough sleep or things are stressful for whatever reason, it wears on me and starts to have consequences. Patience wears thin, perspective gets lost, and before I know it, words start to show up that strike and threaten to set fire to relationships or opportunities.
In Luke 6, Jesus says, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” And what He means is that when we say something unkind or brutally honest to the point of destruction, that was simmering in our hearts first. It wasn’t a sudden accident — it was on the radar beforehand.
Each morning, when I wake up, I check the weather and wind speed and conditions in the sky, and it’s a good practice to spend some time asking the Lord to meet me too. To ask, as the psalmist says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV).
Look for storms on the horizon, friend. Not just because you don’t want to get caught in the rain, but because when the thunder rolls, you’re in for danger if you don’t come back in.