Does anyone have a clue what is common to these towns in this country?
Marshfield, Strafford, Seneca, MO
Birdtown, Appleton, Conway, AR
Memphis, Hardin, Fayette, TN
Leeds, Pisgah, AL
Lake City, FL
New Hartford, Parkersburg IA
These are just a few of the locations in this country which have been hit by a tornado and suffered at least one fatality in 2008. There are some huge cities such as Atlanta and Memphis on this list; and there are little hamlets known only to the locals. There are rural locations which are not within any city and there are sleepy little towns of a thousand people. “Tornadoes are equal opportunity destroyers” the Red Cross sign on I-70 says accurately.
In each location where a tornado has claimed the life of someone this year; no one expected that storm to claim them as a casualty. In many of these places they looked at the sky, saw the bulletins on television and heard the sirens wail; yet they never believed this storm would be any different than the countless others which set off all the warnings and never even touched down.
Many of those who lost their lives in tornadoes live in mobile homes. Many were caught in their vehicles. Some were doing as they were instructed to do and were in their basements. No matter where they were, the common denominator is they were not able to live through a tornado’s violent destruction.
God speaks often in the Old Testament of “whirlwinds” which are tornadoes. The context is always regarding sudden destruction. Indeed, there is nothing in nature which strikes as suddenly and with more destructive power (other than an earthquake) than a tornado. Those who have watched the video of the Oklahoma tornado from this past weekend saw how it goes down and then up and varies in width and strength. It is nigh unto impossible to predict where and when a tornado will form and actually reach land.
Last Friday evening, a tornado took aim on Greensburg, Kansas. It touched down on the west side of town moving east. Unlike a year ago, this tornado went back up into the clouds and waited until it reached the east side of town to drop down again. Stating the obvious, there must have been a whole lot of praying going on!
Last Sunday, a vicious F-5 tornado dropped down on Parkersburg, IA and plowed through one entire side of the town. Pictures show nothing left of what used to be houses, schools and businesses other than the foundations. For a small town like this to lose over 200 homes is catastrophic; for there not to have been more fatalities is nothing short of a miracle.
Whether dealing with the horrible tornado outbreak back on February 5th or an isolated tornado such as in Independence, LA; the one overwhelming common thread is that no one expected to die in a tornado that day. People lived life as they always did and never expected that day to be their last on this earth. I am quite sure that the vast majority of those who perished in tornadoes this year were thinking of all the things to do the next day even as the roar of the storm deafened their ears.
I do not present this to be morbid. I only share these things with you to serve as a wake-up call that we are not in charge of when or where our life on this earth ceases. Our times are in God’s hands and when our time comes to depart this life; whether suddenly or after a long bout with an illness—our trust has to be that our times are in His hands.
We can live making plans and provisions for twenty years from now but we don’t know if the plans we made for twenty minutes from now will actually happen. As believers we must understand that this life is but a stepping stone to our eternal habitation with the Lord. Nothing in this life, including its end, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As a believer, we should approach each day as if it is the last one we have before either the return of the Lord or the end of our physical life. Each day, each hour, each minute should be viewed as a gift from God to be enjoyed and used to His glory. Until and unless we put this life in the correct perspective, we will find ourselves fearing death. When this happens, more of life’s energy is consumed avoiding death than in living life.
Our responsibility is to stay faithful in this life no matter what it holds. If we end up poor and sick; so be it and praise God. If we end up wealthy and healthy; so be it and praise the Lord. Our life is not measured by financial success or how good of shape our body is in. Our life should be measured by how deep our fellowship with God is and how faithful we stay to His Word regardless of the circumstances that arise in this life.
The way to overcome fear of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks or airplane crashes is to manifest full confidence in God’s ability to take care of us and to realize that this life is but a stepping stone to our eternal life with the Lord. Until the point is reached in our heart where we can boldly proclaim our total belief that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ; we will have to deal with fear and especially the fear of death. Let us rejoice and thank God for the victory He has given us in Jesus Christ over him who has the power of death, which is the devil.