(ROCKWALL, TX – Dec. 31, 2015) As the terrible tornado began to develop just a few days ago, it became evident that my family was in its direct path. I was watching the weather report on the television news and the giant twister was actually on the ground approximately a mile from them. This was a moment of helplessness and panic as I was a good 10 miles away. It was a very surreal moment as I spoke with my wife on the phone while she, our daughter who had just had major back surgery three days previous, her husband and daughter and large dog were huddled in a small 10’x 12′ bathroom. (Looking back, this had to be a fairly comical thing to observe.)
This was a rare December tornado; a killer storm, and one of 10 separate tornadoes. It plowed a 500 feet wide and 13-mile-long swath and was threatening the ones I love. It severely damaged homes just a few blocks south of their location, skipped directly over them and killed eight souls on an overpass about a mile north of them.
My family was graciously spared and we are all very thankful to God for that. But at the same time many others around them were losing everything they owned, even their very lives. You’ve seen the photos after one of these unmerciful monsters. It is total devastation and we wonder how any survive.
And then the amazing stories begin to be told of lives having been spared and of the unusual:
. One young man had a flat on the way home from work and was so frustrated that he was delayed. But upon arrival at his home, discovered that where he would have been sitting and relaxing after work resembled a war zone.
. Another family of 10 crowded into the master bedroom of their home in fear of the storm. After the storm was over, the master bedroom was all that was left of the house.
. Another group of three sought protection in a bathroom that was in the center of the house. Again, this was the only room left standing.
. A young couple were driving in their pickup truck in the same area that the eight were killed in their vehicles. Their truck was violently thrown into the air and slammed into the ground, but they escaped with only minor injury.
. A friend of mine has a two story house. A bedroom on the bottom floor was snatched away like a Lego toy block, but the bedroom just above it was still intact.
. A picture of a house that was demolished showed the kitchen in complete ruin and the roof gone. But on the top shelf was a fragile teapot and plate in a small stand, as if there had never been anything happen.
As I look at the destruction and complete disarray of property and lives, some things begin to come into focus. The first is, “Why me?” Yes, why were we spared and others were not? For certain, we will not have a satisfying answer to that question on this side of the grave. The “Why me?” question can truly haunt us in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. That can be a negative or a positive question depending on the situation. This, of course, was a negative situation and a positive question for me.
Those of us that believe in a sovereign and loving God must leave the answer to Him and trust Him as we continue to move on with life. His Word is sure and we know His deep love and care for us.
Many that are seeking answers outside of God’s sovereignty and care will most likely never get past the terrible tragedy completely. I would encourage these folks to stop short of being angry and seize the moment to reflect on what things are really important. You have your life and you have your loved ones. Cling to them and cherish them. They need your strength.
The next thing that begins to focus is the care and concern the American people have for those in need. Volunteers, money, clothes, supplies and building materials have begun flooding in from across the nation. It is a “WOW” moment when you stand back and see how people are willing to encourage, support and provide for each other.
We hear and see all the bad and disgusting hatred and evil around us. Bad news sells and there is plenty to go around. But, when good people stand up and reveal their hearts of concern it is truly an amazing and awesome blessing to watch.
Individuals, churches, community service organizations and businesses all band together in the effort to help people through this tragedy and to help rebuild their communities.
I close with the admonition for all of us to appreciate what we have in this country, known for freedom. We have the resources, the desire and the ability at the grass roots to support each other and continue to be the example to the world of how life should be led – not just in selfish indulgence, but in true concern and support for our neighbor.
Story and photos by Blue Ribbon News special contributor John Adams of Rockwall.
John serves as an Associate Pastor at Poetry Baptist Church. He is active in the Rockwall Breakfast Rotary. Visit his guest columns at BlueRibbonNews.com and his blog at written4u.com.
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