I drove up to the bus stop to pick up my girls one afternoon last week. The lightening was intense. My neighbor pulled up in her car to ask me if the buses were coming. In my stupor I asked, “Why wouldn’t they?” She proceeded to tell me our county was under a tornado warning. And sure enough, I called the school and the kids were all tucked away in the halls and classrooms in safety mode.
I hustled back home to get my dog and headed to the basement. The benefit of texting came in handy – immediately I could touch base with my family. My husband works an hour away and had not heard of the storms in our area. My middle school daughter did not have access to her phone, but my high son and I kept in touch the whole time! (There are occasions when the rules – like no texting at school – can be broken in the case of emergency, right?)
Throughout the previous night, we had had a few vicious storms pass through our area. As the weather forecasters predicted, the “H” and “L” met together and created tornadic activity. There had been a warning from 9:00 at night to 3:00 in the morning. At midnight, I had heard the force winds so I turned on the TV to check our status. I woke up my husband with an alarmed update, “We’re under a tornado warning. Shouldn’t we get the kids up and go to the basement?” We closely watched the weather forecaster’s predictions and decided to wait this one out. Our kids had tests the next morning and the winds seemed to calm down within a few minutes.
As we settled back in bed, my husband (who could sleep through a freight train coming through our room) said to me, “I’m not too worried, God has our day appointed” and he rolled over and quickly fell back asleep! The thought calmed me for a moment, but I laid in bed irritated, wondering how he could sleep with all the noise and uncertainty of another storm.
I agree, a day is appointed for each of us to die, but with no disrespect… Yes, there’s an element of trusting God’s protection, yet we have been given a TV with state of the art weather forecasters that can tell you the exact location of the wind twirling above the clouds. And God also gave us our common sense. (smile) Tornados can be created in a moment and touchdown in unpredicted paths.
These amazing creations of nature remind me of God’s power. As I study the book of Isaiah, it is so evident through the scriptures to see that God graciously sent Israel repeated warnings to turn them from their rebellion. Isaiah warns them that God is sending armies to attack. These attacks were again God’s gracious “discipline” to draw the Israelites back to himself.
In Isaiah 7:18, Isaiah warns that God will whistle and the Egyptian and Assyrian armies will swarm like flies and bees. It was evident to me that in a moment’s notice God can change circumstances – for good or for bad. God was totally in control of the nations he used to discipline the Israelites. Assyria was the Lord’s instrument according to God’s methods not according to their own power hungry pride. The enemy could only attack but so far. God would eventually send a disease among the enemy for their pride in taking too much power.
Each time God gave a “woe” of warning, he also graciously gave the promise of his redemption. “‘Come now; let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.’ ” “For unto us a son is given…he will be called Everlasting Father…of his government and peace there will be no end.” “In that day (a day of future judgment and salvation) the remnant of Israel, the survivors…will truly rely on the Lord, a remnant will return to the Mighty God. (Isaiah 1:18; 9:6-7, 10:20-23) God had a plan of salvation for his people and no plan of his would be thwarted.
The Israelite nation received warning after warning to turn back and repent and they did not listen and suffered consequences. During the tornadic storms, we too, were given warning after warning to seek shelter in a remote place. We risked the consequences by assuming divine determinism would have its way with us. The tornados quickly arrived and did cause disaster and 1 death locally. It’s hard to fathom God allowing disaster, yet I know God is in complete control. I am sure there were measures of his grace poured out to those met by the misfortune.
As I continued to ponder God’s sovereignty, I was challenged to think through my part of his plan. A question from my Bible study asked, “How do your actions prove your faith in God’s promises? How are you communicating God’s promises to others?” Ouch! Lately, my actions have been more like the Israelites and I have not been as confident to convey that God is a promise keeper.
There are a few things God has shown me repeatedly for several years now. And I think it is time for me to listen and heed God’s corrections. I thank God, he is patient with me! One area that I have openly shared with you is my fear of man over my fear of God. God continues to bring this verse into my reading. “Do not fear what they fear, (I AM) the one you are to dread, (lest you offend (me) by your fear of man and distrust of (me)) and (I) will be a sanctuary.” (Isaiah 8:13-14) I continually battle to seek man’s opinion over God’s about my work and worth.
I also see some other yucky stuff as I wait to get speaking engagements. I need to rejoice and be happy for those who do have the gift and opportunity to speak or write, who are favored or more exposed than myself. Yes, it’s yucky…but I struggle with envy and jealousy.
I’m praying for God’s help to renew my thinking as I look at others with God’s perspective. We (those who are called to serve the LORD) are under one banner, the Lord, Jesus Christ – he is to be lifted high and exalted! When the gospel goes forward through others, I need to rejoice in that fact. God is using others, my sisters-in-heart, to minister a different message, and it’s all good and needed. I need to be okay with being one of the least of these. Maybe I am to be a Barnabas sent to encourage those who have been called to the forefront who have a more eloquent delivery of speech.
Yes, the tornado touched down in my heart… can you hear it? God is churning up some debris that’s for sure! As I focus on God’s continual teaching and yield to his correction, that’s my part in working with him. Hebrews 10:34 in the Message says, “You need to keep on patiently doing God’s will if you want him to do for you all that he has promised.” Our part, heed the warnings and return to him and do what you know to do. God is in complete control, sovereign over all creation, but he did give us a brain to heed his warnings, ears to listen, and the grace to follow. We are not scarecrows in a melon patch subjected to the crows!
Are there areas in your life when you have become complacent under the assumption of God’s divine determinism? Some people have an apathetic attitude about prayer because they think God is going to do what he wants to do anyway. But if you search the scriptures you will see that God repeatedly responds to the prayers of the righteous. Somehow, amazingly, we work with God in prayer. Through God’s grace we work with him as we yield to his corrections and use our common sense.