While the kids and I sat huddled in the closet, eating snacks and telling stories, the minutes ticked by.
Loud bursts of wind and a deep rumbling shook our house. Then all was quiet. Internet was down, I couldn’t reach Joshua, and didn’t know what was happening in the outside world.
An hour passed.
The kids were growing restless. Will had completely soaked through his outfit. I was getting restless.
With an earnest prayer we pushed over the mattress and crawled out of our mock shelter. I was not prepared for what I saw: the wind had thrown power lines across the yard like a cat playing with yarn. Trees lay toppled.
We must have been hit!
A neighbor’s house
The devastation was unreal: You could see the carpet in one neighbor’s house. He was home and we thought for sure he was hurt, or killed.
On all sides, trees smashed through homes and crushed cars. Shards of wood and glass were driven into the ground in a dozen directions.
But in the sweet innocence of childhood, Rose and Will gazed around in joyful wonder. Branches formed green playhouses all around them. A huge fallen tree blocked the road so even non-crushed cars posed no threat to little people. As the weight of the tragedy sank in, their complete lack of fear helped lighten the mood.
Though the April 27th tornados claimed dozens of lives and rank as one of the costliest natural disasters in American history, so many “mini-miracles” help make up the story:
- Our neighbor’s son ran out to the car to get something. His mom called him back. As he stepped away from the car, a massive tree toppled, completely crushed the car and smashed through another neighbor’s porch, but didn’t scratch him.
- None of our neighbor’s were killed or even hurt. The neighbor whose house was smashed was safe in the tub and climbed out the broken bathroom window.
- A law school friend down the street was looking out the window when she saw the tornado rip off her neighbor’s roof. She had just enough time to race to the cellar before half of her house was carried away. She too survived unscathed.
- And that massive tree I prayed so earnestly about? It hardly lost a leaf!
It wasn’t until later that day (at the ripe old age of 25) that I learned what a tornado really sounds like… and realized that I had heard the rumbling, loud and clear. The “choo, choo” I listened so intently for is not the tornado sound! How I’d missed that all those years baffles me, but I think it was another way God showed me His grace.
From the time we first huddled into the closet, a deep peace filled my heart. As my dear friend Bekah (who lived through the terrible Joplin tornadoes) said, “God often doesn’t give peace about things that ‘could’ happen but when we are in the midst of ‘the real storm,’ His peace fills our hearts.”
Though tornado warnings now send a sudden thrill of panic through me, looking back on the storm calms my heart.
As Betsie ten-Boom said, “There are no ifs in God’s world.”
No matter what happens, “our times are in God’s hands.” His power can calm any storm…. or give us calmness through the storm.
Has God given you an “uncanny” peace through a storm?
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