Every day of my 26 years of life I have been an Oklahoman. I’ve gotten various responses to that statement over the span of those years. Some people still believe that we are roaming around our state on horses. I’ve had a few people actually ask if any of us live in tepees. And then there’s this other thing we’re also well known for, tornadoes.
On May 20 I suppose you could say we lived up to what we’re known for as a massive tornado tore through our state, but you probably knew that. It was all over the news, and though I was living it, I couldn’t quit watching it on the television either. However, long before it hit CNN that day, it hit my telephone. Friends calling desperate for prayer and for help for family members missing, or even worse, already dead. For transparency sake, when someone said a terrible tornado had hit Moore, OK I said a prayer for those affected and then didn’t think much of it after that. Not to say that tornadoes are typical, but I’ve grown up around them, even bad ones. I had no idea what was really happening miles down the turnpike. It didn’t take long though for me to become keenly aware that this was different and very, very far from “typical”. The more calls that came in from friends and family the more my heart ached and my anxiety rose. I couldn’t even turn on the television at first for fear the very sight of the tragedy being too much to take in. I wept and prayed and waited with my friends whose lives and families hung in the balance.
That evening as the sun began to set over our grieved state the sky turned a vivid orange-unlike anything I had ever seen before-as the atmosphere was thick with debris. I stood in the orange landscape and wept thinking of mothers who could not find their children tonight; or the faces of children who had suddenly lost their mothers. But you probably saw that too. But there are probably a few things you didn’t get to see if you aren’t from around here.
God showed up ya’ll.Because that’s what happens in the midst of the utter darkness if you let Him. Because sometimes the unfathomable happens. Parents bury children. Families lose their homes and all of their belongings. Children have to suddenly go through life without a parent. The doctor gives you the dreaded words you never wanted to hear. Really, really bad things happen with no warning or seemingly rhyme or reason. It’s in those moments that we want to pray, it’s all we have left after all, but we just can’t find the words.
How do you put words together after life crumbles around you? Then I remember these words of utter hope in Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And I suddenly remember… He gets it. He knows it’s hard to be us some days. Especially in the utter darkness where you can’t see your hand in front of your face, let alone a way out. And even without the eloquent prayers or even simple words or sentences He comes to our rescue. The night of May 20 my heart was in prayer, but I can’t remember a single think I prayed for. I’m sure through weeping I muttered the words, “Jesus help them please” or something along those lines. Mostly I just thought-Lord how do I even begin to pray for such tragedy? When you’re faced with so much pain and so much need where in the world do you begin? But you all probably saw that too.
But here’s a few ways that God moved greatly that probably wasn’t shown on the news. The whole state was inevitably affected by the tragedy, because for those of us who didn’t have damage and whose lives were spared, we left our homes to sort through the belongings of those who didn’t have homes anymore or to sort through donations. A few nights after the storms tore through the state we had a huge prayer service. I can not begin to explain the presence of God that was so tangible in that sanctuary that night. It was a night of worship unparalleled to any other. The kindness of strangers from around the country was humbling. Over the course of the week and the weeks following the tornado hundreds turned to the Lord and surrendered their life to Him. We got many new brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone tried to help in any way they felt the could-even local newscasters for example, said they would not stop reporting until every child from the elementary school that got the brunt of the hit was accounted for. So we had round the clock local news for awhile, you saw the exhaustion on their face and they wept right there on air at times, but they did not stop. Local men from the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief would start working early in the morning cleaning up debris and wouldn’t stop until almost midnight for dinner and to get a few hours of sleep before they would get up a few hours later and do it all over again. They left their own families and continued this routine for weeks.
I know so many of you prayed for us, and I humbly thank you. These are a just a few examples of the ways that God answered those prayers so faithfully. I want to thank Blogs by Christian Women for giving me a moment to share what God has done during this dark time for our friends, families and neighbors.