Today, April the third, is an anniversary of sorts for our family. It was the day in 1974 that 148 tornadoes struck the US, 26 of them in Kentucky. I don’t think I’ve missed a year since then remembering the devastation the storm brought and God’s hand of protection over us when it ravaged through the city of Winchester.
I was a member of our approximately 100-member high school band that was travelling to Pittsburgh, PA to perform in a concert on that day. As the Greyhound buses we were riding in came through the city of Xenia, OH terrible thunderstorms were rolling all around us. The buses pulled off the road in Xenia to determine if they should wait out the storm or move on. After some deliberation we pressed on. Blessing #1 We later learned that Xenia was devastated by a tornado that killed 32 of its residents. If we had stayed there we would have been right in its path.
When we reached our destination in Pittsburgh, the students all called home and learned that a tornado had touched down in Winchester. However, when my sister and I tried to reach our home we couldn’t get through. Our band instructor said we would continue to try to reach our parents. Then while sitting in a concert listening to another band, my sister and I were called out and asked to come to the lobby. It was there we met with our band instructor and learned that our house had been destroyed in the tornado. Blessing #2 Our mother, who was there by herself during the storm was spared and was at some one’s home being cared for.
I then learned the details that led up to the tornado. A thunderstorm preceded the tornado and cause the electricity to go out. My dad was at work, and my mom was there by herself. She decided to read by candlelight (you can call that trust in the Lord!). At some point she heard a noise that sounded like a train and decided that she should get herself into the basement. As she headed down the steps, a beam from the ceiling came down and hit her across her arm; that bruise was the extent of her injuries. She went downstairs and laid on the floor until it was quiet. When she came back upstairs she could see the sky! The entire roof of our house had been torn off and thrown across the street in a million pieces. Electrical wires lay dangling from the walls, debris was everywhere and she was bewildered and in shock. Neighbors came over to check on her and care for her. The rains came then, soaking everything that was now completely exposed in our roofless house.
I’ll never forget that night in Pittsburgh as I got out my Bible to have my devotions, the booklet I was using led me to Matthew 6:25-33. Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the filed, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin. and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? …But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Blessing #3 The Lord had prepared His Word to comfort me and teach me a valuable lesson. Life is more than things. Blessing #4 The shelves in the closets dropped down and covered our clothes, protecting them from being ruined in the heavy rains that followed the tornado. Blessing #5 I had such sweet peace that night as God surrounded me with His presence and care for me.
As a fifteen year-old the Lord taught me things that I obviously haven’t forgotten and wouldn’t have learned without the storm. It’s a continual reminder that the Lord does bring storms (in many forms) to teach us about Himself, His provision, and His never-ending love. Thank you, Lord, for the memory of April 3, 1974.
I wish I could find the music for this so you could hear this song if it’s unfamiliar to you. I pray the words will be a blessing in themselves.
It Takes a Storm Now and Then
All my dreams were shattered
and all that mattered
was gone on the winds of sorrow.
Everything I had planned
swept out of my hand
and I saw no hope for tomorrow.
With my heart near to breaking,
I cried, “Lord, I can’t make it
by myself. I just can’t carry on.”
And with the storm at it’s darkest
came His words, “I’ll never leave you.
You are loved. Let myStrength be your own.”
It takes a storm now and then
to remind me to depend –
to depend on the Lord
And to rest in His word.
For in the wind and the rain, I
learned to call on His name
And I thank Him in my song
It took a storm to make me strong.
When my feet are stumbling
and my hopes are crumbling
The Lord is there guiding
He is peace.
He is calm in the midst of the storm
the Lord is there abiding
He is grace. He is power.
He is strength for each hour.
He is comfort and safety from all harm.
There is joy in my soul
for the Lord has control
and beneath are His everlasting arms