I had half-written this week’s ePistle column by Wednesday afternoon of this week, and I must say that it was cute and catchy with a nice, neat little package of meaningful spiritual truth. You would have loved it, I promise. But then the storms came.
Something just doesn’t seem right about cute and catchy on the heels of such devastation and so much loss. Like so many of you, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my mind and heart around all the destruction wrought by the tornadoes that hit our state two days ago.
Surely we were blessed that our area was missed, with two very close calls in the Calera/Alabaster area, and I’m very grateful that we made it through the storms safely. But, it’s hard to feel good about things when you know there are so many not far down the road from us who have lost so much.
From Hackleburg to Huntsville, from Cullman to Cordova, from Forestdale to Fultondale, it’s hard to fathom how many cities and towns were all but obliterated by the string of super-cell tornadoes that swept through Alabama on Wednesday, as all the world watched live and in color. Even now the death toll seems to grow by the hour.
The whole scene of that one huge twister, caught on camera so that we could all watch it up close and personal, was nothing short of surreal. It was like watching one of those bad movies that you dismiss as too unrealistic to ever happen–except this time it did.
The hardest hit areas from that tornado that first touched down in Tuscaloosa and stayed on the ground for hundreds of miles, were very familiar territory for me, except the videos we watch now show territory that is hardly familiar, or even recognizable. Still, it hit a little too close to home, even if it was thirty miles away from where I now live.
My father was from Concord, my mother from Tuscaloosa, and she lived until recently in Pleasant Grove, where I made at least a weekly trek for a couple of years. I still have plenty of family in all of these locations, including a few who lost their homes and sustained serious injuries. So, even though I sat so far out of harm’s way, watching it all in the comfort of my own home, I felt like I was taking a direct hit.
Many of you can relate, including one of our elders who literally sat with his mother in his childhood home that did take a direct hit, throwing the house into the air and destroying it, while he and his mother miraculously escaped without a scratch. Oh, how blessed we were to hear that good news; and even though many may have lost their homes, at this point we know of no one directly connected to our church fellowship who lost their life.
All that to say–well, I don’t really know what I’m trying to say–except that even in times of despair and devastation, God’s mercies are new every morning, and we are grateful for the very breath of life He gives. As we “weep with those who weep” and try to serve those who are digging out of the rubble in days and weeks ahead, may the Lord grant us genuine hearts of compassion, that we may authentically share the love of Christ with a world that so desperately needs Him.
He is still risen! May He be your comfort in life’s biggest storms. I’ll see you Sunday.