Sunday, February 17, 2013

The difference in a hurricane and a tornado

This past week has been a challenging one for my small town. We were hit by an F-4 tornado that devastated homes in 3 communities - Oak Grove, Hattiesburg, and Petal. Miraculously, no one was killed but all in its path experienced first hand the life shaking power of the tornado and its 175 mph winds. 

Driving through the areas hardest hit is surreal. Looking at the shells of homes - and sometimes the complete leveling of homes - makes you wonder how anyone survived. Neighbors are pitching in to try and "clean up" the mess and salvage some small part of the memories. 

This storm brings back memories of Hurricane Katrina and at the same time, it illuminates the stark contrast between a hurricane and a tornado. 

During the hurricane, everyone was affected. We knew it was coming, although no one knew it would be this bad. We had time to prepare. Many left for "higher ground" while others hunkered down to ride out the storm. It lasted for hours. The devastation seemed to be everywhere and we were dependent on each other to try and dig our way out. It seemed that no one was untouched. Life, for a moment, stood still.

The tornado was different. It came without warning...well, relatively without warning. I have heard story after story of those who barely had time to make it into an interior hallway before it hit. One friend described it as literally hearing the storm knock at her back door before lifting over their home. Others did not have the advantage of that "knock" - instead they huddled down as the tornado ripped through their home uninvited...watching as it was destroyed around them.

The tornado seemed to "choose" its path of destruction, unlike the hurricane which hit everyone. The tornado cut a path across the community taking out schools, homes, churches, and businesses. After it passed, some walked out of their homes to find them relatively untouched, while right next door the home was destroyed. Sometimes only a few feet marked the difference between life as normal and a reality that was not imagined just hours before.

All this got me thinking. These storms are so much like what happens in our lives. There are the hurricanes - economic situations, challenges we face as a nation, even the challenges we face as we age. We see them coming. We can somewhat prepare. We are all in it together. 

A tornado is different; it hits you unexpectedly. You are unprepared. It's like a smack in the face as you turn the corner that you didn't see coming. Others are untouched. This weapon seemed aimed at you on purpose and you wonder how you'll pick up the pieces. Those closest to you reach out to help, but others seem blissfully ignorant or unconcerned as you stand in the rubble of your life. They go on as if nothing if life is normal. But for you, it's anything but. This "tornado" in your life might be a job loss, that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night, a severe illness, or the unexpected death of someone you loved. Some more severe than others, but all leaving you standing in the rubble wondering where to start.

There is, however, one thing that both these storms have in common. In both, there is a rock that stands strong. The rock pictured is one that is on the campus of USM. It has withstood every storm that has come its way, and it reminded me of our rock - Jesus. The storms come - some expected, some not; but no matter how strong the storm, He remains solid. We can count on Jesus to be there for us. He never changes. He never leaves us. He cannot be moved by the storms of life. We can cling to Him.

I don't know what "storms" you are facing today. Perhaps it's a hurricane and you are wondering how much longer you will have to ride out the storm. Perhaps it's a tornado that you didn't see coming. Either way, you have a rock that you can cling to...His name is Jesus.

Psalm 18:2

New International Version (NIV)
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Matthew 7:24-25
New International Version (NIV)

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

2 Samuel 22:47

New International Version (NIV)
47 “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!

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