As a teenager, I watched for tornadoes in West Texas as a
member of the Ground Observer Corps. The GOC had been
established to fill holes in the nation's radar defense, but
tornadoes seemed a more relevant threat than Russian aircraft
in a small town like Happy, Texas.
Rain would be blowing in sheets, and a friend and I would sit
in a car parked on the lot at Ford Motor Company, next door
to my Dad's newspaper office on the edge of town. Dark,
lowering clouds with rough, bumpy bottoms filled the sky, lit
by occasional tongues of jagged lightning. Occasionally, a
bump on a cloud began to spin and stretch. When that
happened, we'd rush to tell Daddy, who'd alert the fire station
to sound the alarm. Three long blasts meant get to the storm
One man, a newcomer to town, panicked the first time he
heard the alarm. I'd never seen a grown-up cry like that. He
and his family moved away not long after.
Storms can be destructive. Then on May 5, 2002, decades
after I'd moved to Los Angeles, a tornado flattened a good bit
of the south side of Happy. The tornado was rated F2, with
winds ranging from 115 to 130 mph. It left two dead and four
Storms, both literal and figurative, blow into all our lives,
bringing destruction, devastation and even death.
Tornado destruction in
Happy, Texas, in 2002.
Storms are terrifying. The apostles were with Jesus on the
Sea of Galilee when a storm blew up (Mark 4:35-41). They
were terribly frightened. â€œDonâ€™t you care if we perish?
â€� they asked.
Jesus is Lord of storms. Jesus was so calm he'd been
asleep. He stilled both the storm and the distraught disciples.
And he can cope with the storms in our lives and calm our
fears as well.
Storms serve a purpose. Storms are a part of life, and they
can help us in several ways:
1) Storms strengthen, fortify--we made it through in the
past; probably we will in the future. In the storms of life, we
need to remember God's provision and care for us in the past.
2) Storms make us more compassionate with the
sufferings of others--because weâ€™ve suffered, weâ€™re
eager and able to help others who suffer (2 Corinthians 1:3-
5). We should reach out with love and compassion to those
being battered by life. God helps them, but he may use us to
3) Storms make us face reality--none of us will get out of
this world alive. But that shouldn't cause us to panic. There is
no reason to be afraid if we trust God with our lives and our
Where is God when the storms come? Right where heâ€™s
always been--in the boat with us.