Tornado 5/20/13

The rain was pouring down yesterday. Listening to the thunder rumble from one horizon to the next, fading as it went, I thought of the rescue workers in Moore, Oklahoma – just 45 minutes from here. I love to hear the rain splashing down on the sod, once suffering from a severe Oklahoma drought, now green with promise; yet, I think perhaps the sky was raining down tears for the people who lost homes and loved ones.

May 20, 2013 hosted one of the most devastating tornadoes Oklahoma has ever seen. One newscaster, while watching live footage from a helicopter, even suggested it was the worst tornado in the history of the world. A one and 1/2 mile wide swath of destruction – on the ground for over 45 minutes, traveling 17 miles – from Newcastle to Draper Lake, and leaving crumbling piles of debris, fire, death and heart ache in it’s wake.

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We gathered in the living room and watched News Channel 4 as they followed the tornado from beginning to end. Our brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece live in that area and we were anxiously awaiting news from them. Jesse picked the children up from the baby sitter and headed to their storm shelter. (Click here for a cute story about that. :) Only 1/2 a mile away, the tornado passed them by.

Thankfully, the fatalities aren’t as many as was originally thought, but 24 people lost their lives and over 300 are injured. My heart goes out to these families, some having lost everything.

Today, the sun is shining and the sky is a deep Colorado blue, reminding us that dark, stormy days don’t last forever. I don’t know why things like this happen, but I have to trust that there is a reason. I pray the people affected by this tornado will be warmed by the sunbeams and be comforted in knowing that God is still in control and He watches out for those who love Him.

Psalm 91

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

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Optical Illusions

Last Wednesday, my sister and I traveled down to the city to clean a client’s house – good clients. In fact, I think they pretty much adopted us as their own grandchildren and they kind of spoil us.

We’ve been cleaning for them for several years now and helped them move to two different houses. Of course, every house has had it’s changes, but a lot of the knickknacks remain the same. One such piece is a plaque – yarn needlework on plastic canvas – that sits behind the faucet of the bathroom sink. The red lines puzzled me every time I moved it to clean. What did it mean? Was it Hebrew or another language? To be honest, it looked like clutter and I couldn’t understand the significance of it being moved with such care from home to home.

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I was thinking along the same lines this time around as I moved it to clean behind the sink, but my mind didn’t dwell on it long. I raced on to other thoughts as I grabbed a rag and headed for the shower door.

New rag, last step…polishing off the faucets. I looked at the reflection of the back of the faucet through the mirror to make sure I got every last spot (ALL cleaning clients check spots like that right? :)…and I stopped. What on earth was reflecting the Name JESUS in the faucet??? There it was clear as day. I looked at the plaque, the only possible source in sight, and still saw red lines.  Staring hard at the faucet through the mirror, though, there was no doubt that it wasn’t just red lines after all, and it wasn’t some foreign language either. It just took a different angle to see the word.

Wait a minute! There, I had it. For a split second JESUS came into focus then faded again into red lines. But that was all it took. Now that I knew JESUS was there, that is what I looked for and I could see it.

Never again will I look at the plaque in the same way I did for all those years. It was enlightening really. I felt like a new realm was opened to me in a very relate-able way.

Can You See It?

I haven’t been “seeing” Jesus lately. Life has been looking like a bunch of red lines that don’t make any sense to me. I’d chuck them right out the window if I could, but I can’t, and those red lines just keep staring me in the face taunting me with their meaning, or lack there of.

I clean around it a lot – avoid it, move on to other thoughts…because it frustrates me. I don’t need more clutter on my counter, but that’s what it feels like. I want to see the meaning… but I’m at the wrong angle.

My focus gets off and the more I stare at the red lines the more I just see red lines and the less sense it makes. It’s depressing. And the more depressed I get about it the bigger the red lines get.

Adjust the Angle

Here’s the thing though… I know JESUS is there. Not just the word JESUS, but the Man, the Savior, the Messiah Yahshua Jesus. And I know that my focus, or my perspective, is part of the problem.

I admit it, my perspective gets off a lot. Somehow the life-sized problems balloon into monsters that feed on discouragement and hopelessness and, if I’m not active about shifting my focus back to my bigger-than-life God, it can be devastating.

I’ve learned this lesson before, but, like many of my posts imply, life lessons aren’t often learned once and for all. Sometimes it takes going over the same lesson over and over again, year after year. I think they get easier though – just a little bit – because you know what got you through the first time. I know now that I have to adjust the angle of my internal lens and I know doing that takes thankfulness. Counting the little things in life I am grateful for and building on it until my “thankful count” far out weights my problems. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

But I Don’t Want to Be Thankful

Yep, it’s true. Sometimes I just want to grovel in my unhappiness. Life is unfair and I can’t possibly deal with it anymore. This is where diligence comes in. I have the power to change my attitudes with my thoughts, but I must be diligent to shun the bad thoughts and immerse myself in good thoughts.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

If I do this, I know my unthankful attitude will go away eventually.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

But let’s be honest here – this is a lot of work!  It’s making constant decisions about every thought and making the right choice about which thoughts to think and which ones to scourge out the door. I have to remember…

JESUS is Always There

It is strength to know that JESUS is always there. When I can’t seem to get my focus right, when all I’m seeing is the red lines, He’s still there for me – for us – waiting, patient, even praying for us (John 17:20).

He has given us the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7) And He will give us the strength to overcome.

Keep Looking

So I want to encourage you – when you’re having a difficult time seeing JESUS, keep looking. Focus on the good things and He will come into view. And believe me, when you get the focus right, you will never see it the same again.

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