Believe it or not, Alabama (along with much of the Southeast) is kind of a 2nd Tornado Alley to places like Oklahoma and Kansas. I’ve dealt with the reality of severe and very scary weather for the entirety of my life. I know well the sounds of a tornado siren and I have a working knowledge of what kind of space I should go to if I am not at home when those sirens go off.
Yup, you're deep in the heart of Dixie!
In the past several years, these tornadoes seem to have gotten worse and worse. Last spring, in fact, a gigantic tornado tore through a town about 40 miles away from my house, headed in our direction, pushed north, and ripped a line across north-central Alabama instead. Many people I know personally were affected by this life-changing storm – people lost their entire homes, many people died, and security was shattered.
The reality of natural disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, etc. force me to contemplate and accept the reality of the power of God. Because, when it comes to these types of events, there’s really nothing anyone can do to control or stop them.
Sure, it’s important for people to avoid making stupid decisions that would put them in imminent danger (like driving TOWARDS a tornado, which people actually do). We have to be informed and we have to make proper choices in order to do our best to be safe.
But, it’s in the course of these disasters unfolding that I stand in awe of the hand (or, maybe fist) of our Almighty God. For whatever reasons, He shakes up the earth in one place, allowing thousands of lives to be sacrificed. Or, He pushes the winds at breakneck speeds through a residential area, allowing this house to be passed over and that one to be decimated. His power and might is beyond frightening and beautiful. It’s shocking and fascinating.
I don’t believe in a vengeful God who has nothing else to do but to allow suffering among His beloved creations. And, I don’t believe that weather is just scientific (all those weather patterns had to start somewhere!). I believe we have a God who has an understanding and vision greater than anything I can imagine, who has a plan that is perfect, even if I don’t get it.
Today, schools are being let out early and people will be hurrying home from work as meteorologists are predicting terrible weather again for our state (in fact, this morning, homes have already been damaged by tornadoes). Admittedly, my heart races a little every time I hear the sirens go off or I see that little red box of “warning” going over my city.
I try my best, though, to remember that I have a God who loves me, who doesn’t do things arbitrarily. I won’t make any stupid choices that could harm me or my family, but if God sees fit to do some damage, all I can do is stand in wonder and awe of His might and praise Him in the storm.
Tornado that ripped across Alabama Apr. 22, 2011...it was a mile wide.