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In just the handful of years that I lived in Oklahoma and Arkansas as a little girl, we went through frequent tornado scares. The woman across the street from us in Heavener had a storm cellar and ten children; at the mere whiff of rain she hustled them all downstairs to wait out the terror. I have more memories of watching those ten children straggle back up the stairs than memories of tornados.
But we did have those moments. Once, when we had just moved to Fort Smith, I awoke one morning to the sound of the town siren going off. There was a code in those sirens. One meant the end of the work day, as I remember it. Two meant the volunteer firemen needed to get to the station. And three meant take shelter, we have a tornado.
When I awoke that long ago morning to that banshee roar of the siren, I knew it wasn’t the end of the work day. So I prayed there was a fire. But the third siren came, nonetheless.
This was the first tornado scare I’d had in our new town. Back in Heavener, I knew our routine. But we’d only been in the new house for a few weeks, and we hadn’t gotten around to talk of tornado drills. I burst from my bed to go find my parents, and when I yanked open the door, I saw that they were already forming a plan. When the three bedroom doors were shut, along with a door leading to nowhere I can remember now (the living room, maybe?) they created a “box” in the center of the house. My dad was putting their mattress against their shut door, and while I watched, feeling utterly helpless, he did the same to my mattress and the two mattresses in my sisters’ room. Now we were enclosed in mattresses, with the howling fury of wind beating against the roof above.
Sitting on the floor, with my back against the mattress, I started to cry. But my dad pulled me close, and said, in that wonderful Southern accent of his, “It’s okay, Baby Doll. We’re going to be fine–there’s nothing for you to worry about.”
I believed him. Why would I not? He’d already proven to know all sorts of things I did not; he had never lied to me before; and he had a strong, sure tone of voice that coaxed the fear right out of me. And he was right–we were fine. The tornado took a bunch of our shingles, but it didn’t take us.
That’s how it goes when you have a father who is strong, brave and trustworthy. When you know they’re in your corner, why should you be afraid of anything?
Even if you never had a father like that on earth, you do have a Father like that. And if you’ve studied His nature enough that you have even a tiny understanding of His absolute goodness and sovereignty and His love toward you, why be afraid of a storm, or distressing news, or the attack of an enemy? What can mere mortals do to you?
Storms will come–both storms without, and storms within. Things we can’t predict and can’t fight; things much bigger than us and much harder than we ever imagined. But we can’t forget: no matter the adversary, whether it’s a circumstance or an enemy, God is over all. Nothing that comes your way comes unseen by the eyes of your Father.
I read that when both the emperor and the pope, in their fury against Luther, threatened his ruin, Luther took the news bravely, and uttered the secret to living a fearless life: “I care for neither of them,” he answered. “I know whom I have trusted.”