Tornadoes strike six states: over 250 killed. Until Thursday morning we had no idea just how bad things were because of the string of tornadoes that struck the southeastern United States. I can remember years ago when a tornado struck Connecticut, heavily damaging the air museum near Bradley Field, but I never remember regular TV programming being pre-empted by constant weather forecasts, warning about one tornado-laden storm after another. The storms which began in Alabama and Mississippi moved into Georgia and southeastern Tennessee by late afternoon on Thursday. Beginning with the 5 PM News, the northeastern Tennessee/southwestern Virginia (aka the Mountain Empire) was put on alert. The warnings which covered a time frame of 7-10 PM (later extended to 1 AM) showed a whole string of thunder storm cells moving roughly parallel with the Smokey Mountains. Many of the cells were packing hail and/or revolving winds.
After supper, we were glued to the TV and reading (check the following "Through the third Lens of Scripture" section for some of the reading material). Every storm cell was moving at speeds of 65-70 mph, so they came and went quickly. Most of them seemed to follow along the path of Interstate 81 (about 20 miles from us). Then one was projected to follow the north side of Route 11E (about 3 miles from us). Along about 10:30 PM one was shown as hitting Camp Creek area of Greene County with a projected path right over Telford (where we live). At that point Barb and I and Barb's Dad and the dogs headed for the cellar. There's no TV there, but with my computer and no loss of power or Internet service, I was able to track the cell. When Doppler showed it to be right over Telford, the wind could be heard roaring outside. However, that turned out to be just the cell passing through. The rotating winds never touched down and the trouble blew right by.
The next day everything in our area looked normal, while just a few miles over into Greene County, dozens of homes were destroyed and 7 people were killed. We've been praying a lot, for those who have suffered loss that God would comfort, and would show us how to be instruments of that comfort. We've also been thanking Him for our protection, and for protecting everyone else that we know personally in the area.
Through the third lens of Scripture: Here are some of the things we were reading on Wednesday...... "I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest"(Psalm 55:8). "And there will be a tabernacle for shade in daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain" (Isaiah 4:6). "For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; for the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall" (Isaiah 25:4).
I'm about to transition from something that will cause most people to say, "Praise God!" to something that might stir up a little controversy. Perhaps I can minimize that by saying that in no way do I attribute the fact that we were protected Wednesday night to some higher level of personal righteousness. I have no doubt that many God-fearing people suffered loss in those storms. What I am going to suggest, with absolutely no insinuation that God was punishing specific people for specific sins in those storms, is that God was once again trying to get our corporate attention.
On April 27, 2011, the Alabama House Health Committee was to vote on two personhood bills. That vote was delayed because of the introduction of amendments to exclude the earliest stage of human development, beginning at conception - thus denying personhood. Within hours, over 200 of Alabama's citizens had been killed by the fierce storms. Consider this: "And God said. 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:.... So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created He them" (Genesis 1:26a, 27).
As this was happening, the military began its sensitivity training as a result of the repeal of the "Don't ask; Don't tell" policy. Here's how part of the curriculum goes..... If a marine sees two other male marines at the mall kissing each other, they should react no differently than if they had seen a man and a woman kissing. Some who have seed video portions of the training say, "They would make Sodom and Gomorrah look like Sunday School." Now consider this: "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion...... Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do those very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:26-27, 32).
As a parting note, consider this statement concerning how God uses things like tornadoes: "The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds...At His direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever He commands them. He brings the clouds to punish men or to water His earth and show His love" (Job 37:9, 12-13). Like I said, I do not believe for a minute that in this recent devastation the guilty suffered loss and the innocent escaped unscathed. I do think that all of us need to reflect seriously on God's holy standards; realize that we cannot live up to them apart from Christ; and then do what we can to be examples of righteousness in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, states and nation.
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7).
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).