You never know what a day may bring.
Six years ago yesterday, most of us were going about our business, before we started hearing the news of a few tornadoes that had passed through our area earlier that morning. As the day unfolded, we would soon realize that Wednesday, April 27, 2011, would turn out to be like few other days in our lifetime.
We watched on live television as a monster tornado made its way through Tuscaloosa, and then tracked that horrific storm right into the Birmingham area. There were even larger twisters–as hard as that was to believe–that devastated entire towns around our state. All told, over 250 people were killed in Alabama that day, and hundreds more across the southeast.
We were warned, that’s for sure. The local weather guys, prone to crying “Wolf!” whenever a few storm clouds would arise and a hook echo showed up on radar, had a different kind of urgency in their voice that day. All their indicators told us that day would be different. And it was.
But in reality, for most of us the day wasn’t much different than any other, except that we watched from the comfort of our living rooms as our neighbors just up the road lost their homes and, in some cases, their lives. Most of us dodged that bullet–and more than a few tornadoes–and went on with our lives.
In the aftermath, it was great to see how the people of our state, and around the nation–and especially the community of faith–rallied around those in need after that tragic day. Perhaps some did so out of a “survivor’s guilt,” knowing that it just as well could have been them digging out from beneath the rubble, or burying their own family members.
Jesus once told the story–in rather abrupt terms–about a similarly tragic event that had taken place in Jerusalem. That story, recorded in Luke’s gospel (13:4-5), mentioned that eighteen people had died when the tower of Siloam had fallen on them. Jesus asked, “Do you think those people were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?” (He answered His own question with an emphatic “No!”)
His point was, it could happen to anyone. You may have survived the last one, but there’s no guarantee you will the next one. As Jesus stated elsewhere, the rain (and towers…and, even tornadoes) fall on the just and the unjust. His bigger application was summed up when He concluded: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
In other words, since we’ll never know the exact forecast about when the storms–or falling towers–will come, then we had better be ready and right with God if and when that time comes.
I’m so grateful that the Shelby Crossings family was able to escape serious harm and injury from last year’s tornadoes–even those who found themselves providentially in the direct path of a deadly twister on that day. But at the risk of sounding fatalistic, that doesn’t mean the next one won’t get us.
I hope, more than anything, that no matter what comes your way, you’ll find your “safe place” in the arms of a God who loves you, and holds you securely in the palm of His nail-scarred hands.
I am praying for you, as I trust you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.