LIKE A TORNADO
One of my mom’s favorite hyperboles was in reference to my bedroom. My little brother and I were roommates growing up, and yes, we could get a bit disheveled. Mom would declare, “Boys, you need to get in there and straighten up your room, it looks like a tornado has been through there.”
I’m not sure how old I was when I saw my first tornado, but I do remember the sirens announcing imminent danger. We didn’t turn to Doppler radar in those days; we went out in the backyard and surveyed the clouds. Over the past 50 years I’ve seen more tornadoes than I can count. I have NEVER chased a storm. I never will. (I figure if you wait around in Oklahoma, one will come to a city near you.)
As a kid, high winds and lightning could scare me. But after Mom and Dad built a new home out north of Apache, a brick home, I had no concerns over tornados. A house made of straw or sticks — now THAT could be a problem. A brick home? Heck, I figured a tornado would bounce right off.
My assumptions about the durability of a brick home were set straight one afternoon. I was riding shot-gun in my dad’s pick-up truck and we were driving from Apache toward Anadarko. We were exactly seven miles north of town when Dad said something like, “Looks like the tornado when right through here.”
I looked to the west and saw the power of a tornado. Large trees, as big as we have in Oklahoma, had been pulled up by their roots and lay in a row. Big trees! Fully mature trees!! The tornado had plucked them out of the ground much like I would pull a weed. I couldn’t believe a tornado or ANYTHING could do that.
I no longer felt safe from a tornado in a brick house.
If you have never worked the aftermath of a tornado — I’m talking about a “direct-hit-like-a-bomb-tornado” — then I can explain a couple of things.
Firstly, the news crews and videos that try to show the destruction just can’t do it justice. Yes, I know they try to get the most dramatic and sensational shot possible, but it’s far messier than a camera can convey.
Secondly, you have to think litter; you have to imagine small stuff, broken stuff, shredded stuff and splinters, all strewn in wide, messy path. In particular, there is housing insulation. That stuff is in the tops of trees and tangled in every barbed wire fence for miles. That’s my vision of the aftermath, shreds of pink insulation. For others it might be sheets of tin scattered across fields, shattered 2X4s, or clothing mixed with shingles.
TORNADOES — Today I have decided to write and offer an unfinished thought.
The typical sermon or devotional thought with regards to Jesus and storms will have to do with the peace and tranquility that Christ offers. Our Lord is the calm in the chaos; He is the serenity in a world of turmoil. You can find hundreds of offerings in this vein.
In some ways I wonder if Jesus hasn’t been a tornado in my own life. I say this only in the sense that I have been a very carnal and worldly person. I can still become enamored with the things of this world. I tend to create my own version of goodness.
At one time I was very good at devising my own self serving philosophy; before the grace of God saved me from myself, I was very content to build my own “house” and construct my own roads for life and living (or take advantage of the work of others).
At times Christ has come to me like a tornado, doing me a kind favor, wrecking my selfish ambitions. I don’t like it when He does that. But I always look back with thanksgiving for His intervention in my life. Like I said, “Christ the tornado” is an unfinished thought. About two minutes after I post this, I’ll destroy this analogy on the basis of His order, His peace, and His mercy. He is not a God of chaos.
Maybe my thought should be that Jesus Christ is a tornado-in-reverse. Hmmmm, that’s a picture. Run the video backwards. When Jesus moves through my life He is actually pulling the disparate pieces of my life out of the trees and off of the barbed wired fences.
TIS THE SEASON
Last night we Oklahomans watched a bit of television and glanced at the maps showing a line of thunderstorms moving across our state. We all understand the language of our local meteorologist, terms like wall clouds, rotation, low pressure circulation, hook echoes, and supercell. Last night, between the storms, I decided to detail the inside of my vehicle. I smiled as I watched my neighbors pour out of their houses and into the neighborhood to toss balls, watch the kids ride bikes, walk dogs, or just take an evening stroll.
And between the clouds, as sort of a half-time break in an evening that was ripe for tornadoes, the sun broke through. It was wonderfully framed by the clouds. It was beautiful. Yes, come to think of it, THAT’S the better spiritual thought for this day. Storms will pass. The sun will shine again. Oklahomans have all “picked-up” after a storm, whether it’s a few branches and limbs, or an entire community, we respond in the light of the day.
Lord, give us the grace to follow the storms of our lives with the strength to act in the Light of Your new day.
A PRAYER FROM PSALM 55
(It fits most scary tornado situations)
Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
hear me and answer me.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”