Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eye of the Tornado ~ Part One

Eye of the Tornado: Part One   Part Two   Part Three
Dear Friends,

A few years back I had a friend that we’ll call “Roy.” He moved back to Texas where he was born and raised and so I’ve lost contact with him but I’ll never forget the story he told me about the time when he chased down a tornado. I can’t write with a “Texas twang” but I’ll tell you the story as close as I can get to the way Roy told it to me. There are apparently about 140 tornadoes that occur annually in Texas so when you're a Texas teenager who rides wild, unbroken horses just to have some fun in your life, what do you do when a tornado lands in town? You chase it down in the pickup. He told me that as the tornado approached, he and a buddy got the dogs in the pickup truck and a case of beer because, as Roy explained it, good old Texas boys don't do anything without their dogs and a case of beer. 

Roy saw the direction the tornado was going in so he hauled off to chase it down and intercept it. As good fortune would have it, the tornado was headed directly toward a gas station on the interstate. Now Roy knew he'd have to drive fast to get to that gas station before the tornado hit it and his luck was holding out since there wasn't a car on the road or a human in sight. That’s because they'd all heard a tornado was coming. 

Roy sped that old pickup toward the gas station so that they could park right next to the gas pumps under the tin awning. Now those boys weren't dummies. They'd seen what tornadoes could do to a town and they knew it could be dangerous, so they were fortunate enough to be able to find that tin awning to park under it for protection. Now I'm telling you the story exactly as Roy told it to me and it might seem that with a deadly tornado approaching no one in that pickup truck was using good judgement but that isn't true. The dogs in the back of the pickup were smart enough to crawl under a bed-mounted tool box for protection.

The winds were fierce and dark. It went as black as night as the leading edge of the tornado past over them. They had to hold on tight to keep from being picked up and blown away. It was screaming loud. Debris from destroyed farmhouses and carcases of dead farm animals filled the howling blackness as it completely enveloped them. Then in another moment, they were in the eye of the tornado and the savage winds had stopped. Roy looked around and saw that they were completely surrounded by the black swirling winds but directly above them was calm blue sky. 

Roy told me that in the center of the tornado it was eerily quiet. It was still. Surrounded by death and devastation, but in the eye of the tornado it was tranquil and peaceful. Then the other edge of the torpedo passed over them and it was gone. The tornado had passed right over them. It had completely torn the roof off the gas station awning they were parked under, but through the grace of God, the gas pumps they were next to had been untouched. The dogs crawled out of the pickup and Roy bit off a fresh chunk of chewing tobacco as he cracked open a cold Lone Star beer...

I’m thinking that we can learn something from Roy's story. I don't know about you but it feels to me like we are in a cultural storm of destruction today – as if we are swirling in a sea of political havoc and mayhem. Many of us struggle with today’s current events and are fearful about our Nation’s future. 150 years ago, a Civil War between the North and the South divided our Nation. Today an Uncivil War between the Left and the Right is doing the same thing with most of the hatred being fueled by the media and the progressive left. Hillary’s VP running mate, Tim Kaine, called for democrats to “fight in the streets” and Obama’s attorney general posted a video in which she called for violence and urged people to “march and bleed in the streets.” 

Liberal activists answered the call for violence and in April, the Portland, Ore. Rose Parade was canceled after 200 progressive democrats threatened violent attacks on any Republican parade entry. More recently, the most-read liberal news source, Huffington Post, published an article calling for the “execution” of the President and all Republican leadership. A few days later, a Bernie Saunders campaign worker attempted to assassinate Republican congressmen at a baseball practice game. Activists are calling for progressive liberals to engage in a Civil War against all Republicans and this political hatred is dividing families and even our churches. 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is the most progressive liberal denomination in our Nation and at an ELCA college in Minnesota, St Olif’s, they held a liturgical vigil for “death to America.” Then a violent mob of these Lutheran students publically declared they would beat up any Republican students on the campus. The men and women conservative Lutheran students received so many death threats that they have left this Christian College out of fear for their physical safety. (and yes I have many ELCA Lutheran friends who grieve along with me that the evil hated we see enveloping America has even permeated our Christian colleges.) 

In this tornado of hate swirling around us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you read news stories. We can’t avoid this cultural storm of violent intolerance. But we don’t have to dwell in it. We can step into the center of that dark tornado. Where there is calm. Quiet. Stillness. It’s in the “eye” of the cultural tornado that we find the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Next week we’ll see how we can come into the eye of the storm.    to be continued...

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