There are no atheists in Foxholes, just some turkeys amongst the eagles. Nothing will get the attention of man and beast more than being in the middle of a life and death situation. Many laugh about the stupidity of the turkey and claim the fowl is so dumb that during a rainstorm they will keep their mouth open, while looking up, until they drown. However the fact is, while a turkey is a pea-brain, its eyes are set on the side of their head. They are incapable of looking towards the heavens during a storm. In most cases, they are killed by their lack of wisdom and inability in finding a good refuge.
On the other hand, an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it hits. An eagle will not run from a storm, but will perch and watch for it from a great height. When the treacherous weather begins, the eagle will position its wings so that the harsh winds will pick it up and lift it above the storm. As the storm rages below, the eagle will soar above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It uses the storm to lift it to new heights.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.” — Isaiah 40:31
One can’t see the forest while standing in the middle of it and I couldn’t see the reasoning and blessings God had in store for me when being battered and struck by a tornado in April of 2006. This was a devastating blow I did not see coming. I even laughed as I grabbed my sneakers on the way to the basement and said out loud, “I might need these if we get hit. I wouldn’t want to be in high-heels all day.” I had no idea the ruble I would find myself standing in, in just a short time.
If you have ever experienced and survived a catastrophic event, it should become a monumental time in your life, something you learn from, life changing. It certainly was for me. I learned that in the chaos, God is not only with you, but He has a purpose, many purposes for it. In my case, God continues to slowly reveal a variety of purposes for allowing the hurtful things I have experienced, which I was incapable of seeing at the time. I didn’t have and still don't have God’s perspective of things.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
I was at such a great place in life in 2006, or so I thought. I vividly recall the many times, upon returning from retrieving the morning newspaper, when I would stop halfway up the driveway of our sprawling estate to give thanks for my many blessings and for what God had brought me through and to. My marriage had survived many assaults including financial devastation, plots of division, wounds from adultery and years of infertility. God had finally blessed us with a healthy son, and for the first time in almost 20 years together we were living by ourselves. God had been pouring His financial blessings upon us as well. My husband had reunited with his singing and business partners. We had a beautiful home, Golden Era Plantation, which was finally debt free, and I had just purchased my first Mercedes. Everything was grand, no need to change a thing. At the time, I was living life like a turkey. I only saw what was directly around me. I did not have a clear overview of unseen things or the wicked storms which were forming on the horizon.
That beautiful Thursday morning began like most every day. We had our list of things which needed to be done and appointments which needed to be met. I remember being a little put off that our “Mac Daddy” motor coach had not been delivered back to us from being serviced as promised the day before and it was an added thing to check on. Little did I know that was one of God’s many timely blessings. We were on our way back to our home after having lunch out, when my cell phone rang. It was my brother. He warned me of a storm, he had been tracking, which projected to come right in the middle of our property within minutes. He demanded that we get home quick and go straight to the basement. Like a turkey, I looked out the car windows as I drove through the gates and didn’t know why my brother was so alarmed. It was not stormy around us. As we got out of the car, our dogs met us and were jumping and barking in a panic. They were quick to run in passed us for shelter as soon as I unlocked the front door. I could not understand what all the fuss was about. It was barely sprinkling outside and the skies around our Golden Era Plantation were not dark at all. I had no doubt that we were going to be fine.
By the time we made it to the basement everything had quickly changed. The winds had become violent, tossing large oak trees down our driveway like they were trigs. A green haze hovered over our property as the roof was being ripped off. With a snap of the fingers our ears instantly stopped up and our eyes began to bulge from the pressure. We were in a vacuum. A great catastrophic power was present and it left me awestruck. A feeling I had never felt before nor since. As I grabbed my son, Solomon, up and ran to the basement bathroom for cover, I knew instantly what we needed to do. I shouted over the roar, “We need to pray!” Solomon and I fell to our knees, knees to knees, face to face. His dad stood in the doorway. I called out to the Lord three times, “Jesus, Please protect us. Please put your arms around us!” Those are the words I kept repeating to our Savior as the muffled sounds of explosions and swirling winds encircled us. My son, who was four and half at the time, was in shock. He kept his eyes upon me and watched how I was responding to the situation. Because I was not crying, he was not crying. Because I was praying, he was praying. Because I was kneeling, he was kneeling. In times of crisis, our children are watching our reactions. We are teaching them through our actions, whether we realize it or not. In times of crisis, one’s core and muscle memory, or lack of one, is revealed.
Muscle Memory is when a movement or action is repeated, over and over again, until a long-term impression is created to the point where it is performed without conscious effort.
What you do on a day to day basis during good times will kick in when you are hit by one of life’s storms. When you have an on going conversation with the Lord, when you turn to HIM for daily direction, then that muscle memory automatically kicks in when you are being assaulted. You build that muscle memory ministry with God during the sunny, calm and peaceful days, so it is strong when you are at your weakest. In a split second everything that seemed so important no longer was even significant. I realized at that moment how fleeting life is. How everything can be changed, for good or bad, in an instant and just how powerful and protective our God is.
We carefully and slowly made our way up from the basement. The roof had been ripped off and our home was exposed. Every single window pane of that 3 story, 8 thousand square foot home had been shattered and massive amounts of water was pouring into every room. Things we held most dear, were gone or no longer had a value. The dogs were shaken and the cat was missing, but we were without a scratch. Our steps were slow and cautious, as we made our way through the house, not knowing if the floors of that old plantation home would fall. I shielded my son's head as we ran out the side door, dodging falling bricks. The rain, lightening and thunder were continuing. We had stepped out to what seemed like the reminisce of a war zone. The trees were broken off and mangled. Our home was tattered. Some of our neighbors’ homes were GONE. It would never be the same, I thought. Never. I remember standing in the rain and wanting someone to tell me what to do. I needed someone to direct me, instruct me, tell me what to do. I wanted to know that it would be ok, that we would be ok. I needed someone to put their arms around me and tell me it would be ok. I wanted to know the future. I will never forget the words of my insurance agent. I had called her immediately and told her that we had just taken a direct hit, that both of our cars were tossed and totaled, the house was uninhabitable and that the 3 of us were standing in the pouring rain. She assured me that I need not worry, that we were fully covered. So I asked her "What should we do?" She replied, “I don’t know! I’ve never been through a tornado!”
2 corinthians 1:3-4
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
If someone would have told me, that tragic day, that God was going to bestow blessings from devastation, give me joy for my mourning, praise for my despair, that God was going to show me favor, I would have questioned, “HOW?” Over time, I have seen so many blessing which have come from that day of destruction. I realize now that God had HIS arms around us, just like I prayed. God took me by the hand and slowly walked me through the year long process of cleaning up, restoring and rebuilding our lives. He also sent HIS earthly angels to help us along the way. I learned that sometimes things have to be torn down, so they can be built up stronger and more valuable. While God does not cause all the storms in life, HE can take it and bless you through it.
The strong winds that day revealed things to me that I would have never known other wise. It revealed kindness from strangers, friends I didn't know I had and made me rearranged my life's priorities. Our large storage building was one of the things that was completely demolished. It held things that were stored for decades. Everything in it was strewn all over the yard and even lodged high in the trees. While all this mess caused us to get rid of a lot of clutter, which we didn’t need and was not useful, there were also things I discovered which opened my eyes and gave me a better understanding. Things so well hidden that it took a tornado for me to discover them.
God put things in motion that day which later benefited my son and I in many ways when a different storm hit our family, several years down the road…divorce. You see, God had a clear overview of things, things I didn’t see. HE saw what was taking place and what was to come. God sees what you don't see. HE knows ALL. As difficult as your situation is, God is making a way when there seems to be no way. God loves us too much to leave us living life like turkeys. He wants us to soar like eagles.
God has taught me, through all my tornadic experiences, many valuable lessons. I have learned how to rise above the chaos and to look to HIM for strength and repair. I've learned to trust and have faith in HIS plan for me. One of the purposes for all the direct hits on our lives is to build our empathy so that we know how to comfort, what is helpful and how to encourage others physically, emotionally and spiritually when we see them take a direct hit.
Financial Devastation… been there... guided by God
Family Division… been there... instructed by God
Ostracized... been there... defended by God
Betrayed...been there... comforted by God
Forgiving Affairs… been there... strengthened from God
Infertility… been there.... healed by God
Home Destroyed… been there... restored by God
Divorce… been there .... guided by God
Single Parenthood… been there... supported by God
Starting All Over… been there ... depending on God
What is your survival list?
This eagle has stopped acting like a turkey and started flying above the storms.
May God be with us all and may we all take refuge in God.
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.