Could it be this still and peaceful the day after storms wreaked havoc across Oklahoma? The sun was shining and I could hear the birds chirping. I spied a fat Robin sitting in my bird bath, which overflowed with several days of relentless rain.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”—Psalm 46:1 (NIV).
Tornado sirens had blasted their warnings, not once, but twice the previous night. Since I’d experienced a tornado’s destruction three years ago, I take precautions, preparing for the possibility of one tearing across our corner of northeastern Oklahoma again. It’s exhausting. It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least.
Prayers flowed from my lips as I watched weather reports of one tornado after another being spotted by storm chasers and on live radar. Friends and family members were calling and texting to check on me. Others were posting prayers for me on Facebook.
Prayers Can Calm the Storms Within
Knowing I was covered in prayer, my heart didn’t race like a runaway train as it usually does at the sound of the sirens. My own prayers weren’t just for my safety but for everyone in the path of the deadly storms—family, friends, and strangers.
Because of excessive rain over the previous few weeks, we were also under a flood warning. My phone kept pinging with warnings of hail, heavy rain and flooding as well as the impending possibility of tornadoes. It was overwhelming.
I realized, however, that when I didn’t focus on my own fear, but instead, focused on others, my fear lessened. My thoughts turned to two men I’d encountered earlier in the week.
Keeping Our Focus on Others
While running errands two days earlier, I spotted two men in separate areas of a store’s parking lot. Each was holding a handmade cardboard sign. The words “homeless” and “hungry” printed in bold black block letters grabbed my attention.
At first, I ignored the niggling thought that I needed to do something. The Holy Spirit was nudging me. “But, God,” I said, “they’ll probably spend any money on liquor, drugs or alcohol.”
I drove off, passing several fast food restaurants as I headed home. Again, that still, small voice badgered me. “Feed them.”
Listening to the Holy Spirit
Ruling out fast food, I pulled into a grocery store near my home. Grabbing a cart, I loaded it with two of each: freshly made sandwiches, bags of potato chips, fresh fruit, bakery cookies and bottled water.
Reaching the express check-out, I asked the employee to divide the items into two bags. As she rang up my purchases, I spied small bags of peanuts on sale. I grabbed four and tossed them on the counter.
Upon returning to the site where I’d encountered the two men, I could only find one still sitting on the curb with his small sign, now dangling from his hands, as if he’d given up.
Never Give Up Hope
Rolling down my window, I didn’t have time to speak before the man stood and approached my car. As I handed him one of the bags, I asked if he knew the other man who’d also been seeking help. He did.
Reaching out, I handed him the other bag, asking him to deliver it to the other man. He replied, “Yes ma’am, and may God bless you.”
Driving away, I watched as he scurried across the parking lot to find his friend. My heart was lighter because I’d wondered if he would share.
Sharing our Trials in the Storms
While huddled underneath blankets and pillows during the tornado warnings, my thoughts turned to these two men. I wondered if they were safe.
Two days had passed since I’d thought of them. But I smiled, not because I’d fed them, but because I knew I’d done the right thing. We are asked to help in times of trouble.
As the storm recovery continues—with neighbors helping neighbors, I recall this scripture, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40).
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Photo credit: https://www.biblestudytools.com