Friday, December 31, 2010

Duck a Tornado With Prayer

I would have to say, the devil immediately threw at us a devastating tornado upon our arrival in Broken Arrow. The trial precedes the blessing.

Tornado by D. Burgess, NOAA Photo Library

On the last afternoon of our trip, we drove the long hours of flat prairie lands toward Tulsa. The Oklahoma sky darkened with heavy, purple-black thunderclouds hanging very low all along the horizon. From the highway, I watched the ominous black line of clouds quietly with a leery eye.

Our four children in the back of the station wagon traveled very well the long highway drive from Upstate New York to Tulsa. Most naturally, my wife worried about where we were going to live and how! With a phone call, Oral Roberts University placed us in touch with the president of the student association and his wife. This couple offered to welcome us into their home in the town of Broken Arrow. At least, we had a place to land.

Jim and Sharon, business students from Texas, most graciously welcomed our tired family into their modern suburban home. That evening after supper, in view of the weather, Jim instructed us on basic precautions for tornadoes. Not a half hour later, we heard the terrible sound of a heavy locomotive coming toward us unseen in the pitch darkness of the rainy thunderstorm. There was no other warning. Radar did not detect the Broken Arrow Tornado.

"That's it!" said Jim.  

To lesson the pressure on the structure of the house, Jim calmly walked to his front door and opened it. He walked to his back glass sliding door and opened that. I knew he was praying with great faith. On his signal, Mary took our youngest two children, Emily and baby Joanna, to a front bedroom closet. I lifted our other two children, Monica and Brian, one under each arm, and carried them down the hall into a back bedroom closet.

The tornado hit!  

I watched as the ceiling in the bedroom outside my closet swelled and buckled. My ears popped! A brass pole lamp lost its spring tension from the ceiling and fell to the floor with an alarming crash.

I loudly commanded the name, "Jesus!"

Through the rainy night with no electric lights, we waited for the first rays of morning daylight to inspect the surrounding neighborhood. Most of the houses ripped open and crumbled, looking like a city dump. The living room curtains from the house behind us ended up in our front yard on the other side. In the neighboring house beside us, the shattered sheet glass from the back storm-door flew through the big room and stuck like a hundred sharp, tiny daggers into the back of the ornate, wooden front door. It looked like a visit from hell. The streets flooded with water from broken water mains.

Jesus is God of the storms!

The miracle revealed in our host’s home: only one 2x4” strut in the attic snapped as the tornado sucked and buckled the roof. It was apparent! Of all the dozen houses in the neighborhood, the tornado actually jumped over our house as we called out the name “Jesus!” 

I spent the first three days of my new life in Oklahoma directing curiosity traffic with the police away from the damaged Broken Arrow suburb. I found all this neighborhood devastation troubling and regretful. But I also learned right then, whatever the devil throws at you, deflect it with prayer!

-- Bill Hunt

There are storms in Nature and storms in Life; both are subject to Prayer.


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