April 24, 2010

Two years ago today a tornado ripped through our community, destroying homes and damaging our schools. A year later, almost to the day, another tornado cut a devastating swath through most of my state. In remembrance of that terrible and terrifying event and in recognition of the grace and goodness of a sovereign God, I’m reposting my thoughts as I wrote them just a day or two after the 2010 tornado hit…

It was a EF3 tornado. Its path was 18 miles long, 3/4 mile wide, accompanied by 140 mile an hour winds. You can read more about it here. I am glad for the internet (and for the electricity that powers it). One of the benefits (detriments?) of living in a small town is a lack of continuously streaming information. In those first several hours, once our power was restored, I was glued to the computer, searching out every bit of information, every horrifying picture I could find.

We rode through some of the damaged areas Sunday night. People always say that aftermath of storms like ours looks like a war zone. It does indeed. Thanks to the wonder that is Facebook, I’d seen pictures. A two dimensional shot, no matter how striking, doesn’t begin to do justice to the reality of the devastation. One of our city councilmen made the statement that the landscape of our town has changed forever. It has. And not just physically.

My husband and I are not from here. We’re transplants, having moved here almost fourteen years ago. Yet we grieve. This may not be our hometown but it is our home. We weren’t born here but here we have lived. And as such, riding through the devastation brought tears to our eyes.

There was no loss of life. That in itself is amazing. Yesterday at the grocery store I saw a young teenaged acquaintance whose home was completely decimated with her and her family huddled inside. Are you okay, I asked, feeling ridiculous even as I did. Who can be okay after your home was picked up only to be thrown down again several yards away from its foundation? We’re praying for you, I assured her. We are. We do.

I’ve been praying for our mayor, city council, police chief, fire chief, school superintendent and the other city leaders. There’s no blueprint for this, our mayor said in a radio interview Sunday morning. I am thankful for the strong leadership they’ve demonstrated. May the Lord continue to grant them strength and wisdom, clarity of mind and calmness of spirit.

We saw sheriff’s cars and utility trucks from neighboring counties and cities. I know that’s not unusual with a disaster like ours, but seeing others come so quickly to our aid was, for lack of a better (less cheesy) word, heartwarming.

Our high school and middle school were both hit pretty hard. Classes have been canceled system wide for the whole week and a plan is being formulated for completing the school year. Students will not be returning to the high school and middle school campuses, that much is certain.

With the boys home this week, we are little off-kilter. Okay, so it’s me that’s off-kilter and, honestly, I can’t blame it on the boys. Disasters move others to act, to serve. I brood.

I was thinking of the comfort, the security, that comes with knowing that God is sovereign. Sometimes we resent and resist His sovereignty, thinking it’s not fair, that we deserve–or don’t deserve–this or that. Ultimately, whether I find His sovereign control a source of refuge or resentment depends on what I know of His character. His Word tells me He is good, that His mercy endures forever, that He works all things according to His will for our good and His glory. If I believe that, if I know His glory to be my greatest desire, if I trust Him, then I can rest even in the midst of our corporate and personal grief. 

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Ps. 45:1-3)

Originally posted April 27, 2010.

More of my reflections on the tornado and our community can be found herehere and here or by clicking the “Tornado” label below.


Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

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