Where Was God Then?

Where Was God Then? May 21, 2013

In a recent news article about the role faith and churches are playing in the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes in Granbury, one resident stated that his last-minute decision to take his wife and children to church that night saved their lives, as their home was destroyed 30 minutes later. He said, “That proves right there that going to church can literally save your life.”

He also mentioned that because of all the gifts of cash, clothes and food that he found renewed faith in friends, family and God, very sure that he was under God’s protecting hand.

Now I read this on Sunday, and even then asked, “how about those who were killed? Were they left out somehow of this miracle of protection?”

And then, Moore, Oklahoma, happened. Late Monday afternoon, I noticed a bunch of Facebook friends had posted concerns about something happening near Oklahoma City.

I found a live news source and sat there, horrified.

Schools with children still in them were totally destroyed. Entire neighborhoods wiped out. As I watched, the first deaths were confirmed—a mother and her seven-month-old baby crushed under the weight of her collapsed house.

I wept.

By Tuesday morning, the death toll was 24 with hundreds more injured. Too many people, including children, yet unaccounted for. The work of surveying and estimating damage to hundreds of homes and businesses will take a far back burner as those trained first responders keep up a frantic search for survivors.

Powerful stories of those whose lives were spared are leaking out. I would guess that many, just like the Granbury tornado survivor above, will affirm confidently, “God protected me.”

I say, “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.”

Yes, there will be miracles both of excellent preparation and simple good luck. There are the wise ones who had access to storm shelters and huddled there, listening to their houses collapse around them. I’ve read one wonderful story of a pre-school who gathered all their students in an interior bathroom, covered them, waited out the storm, and emerged with all unharmed but with the structure totally destroyed.

I say, “Thanks be to God!” for that.

But some have died, many seriously injured. Perhaps some were foolish, hearing warnings and not believing them. Perhaps some found such fascination by the approaching storm that they went out to watch it, not knowing that flying debris turns normally innocuous objects into lethal weapons. And perhaps some were in an old, structurally unsound school-building and took the best safety measures available.

Where was God then? Why were they not protected?

That question will be asked by both people of faith and those who want to make a mockery of people of faith.

And as long as we insist on using language like, “Well, MY God would not let that happen,” and therefore making over God in our own image and insisting that the Holy One be our personal care-taker, we’re going to be stuck here, unprepared to deal with tragedy, death and loss.

Where was God? Well, right now, God is present in the hands and feet of those who are looking for survivors, tending the wounded, binding up the broken-hearted, providing food, clothing and shelter to the devastated.

Where was God when the tornadoes hit or the fertilizer plant blew up or the brothers in Boston decided to see how many innocent they could injure by their hard and evil hearts?

Fully present. Accompanying people through the valley of the shadow of death. Before them and behind them in both terror and hope. Calling on the rest of us to stay the course, steady our souls, offer help where possible and acknowledge the impermanence of this life and human structures.

The Scriptures remind us that we are like grass, here today and burned in the fire tomorrow. Let us make each “here today” holy and beautiful.

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  • Larry

    Indeed. That is why my prayers are full of thanks, not requests. This is my own personal way of dealing with unanswered prayers (such as “God please help us survive the storm.”) and requests for prayers (i.e., “God please help the family that just lost their son”). If we are able to pray, that is, we are alive, we can give thanks. Thanks for so many things of which family and loved ones reign supreme. We can all enjoy our time and find purpose, knowing all earthly lives will end.

  • Larry

    Indeed. That is why my prayers are full of thanks, not requests. This is my own personal way of dealing with unanswered prayers (such as “God please help us survive the storm.”) and requests for prayers (i.e., “God please help the family that just lost their son”). If we are able to pray, that is, we are alive, we can give thanks. Thanks for so many things of which family and loved ones reign supreme. We can all enjoy our time and find purpose, knowing all earthly lives will end.

  • Thank You Christy. This needs to be said over and over. Enough already with the, “God protected me” when there are others who were just as faithful and yet not as fortunate. God is there, is here, is everywhere and maybe even cries the first tear…

  • Thank You Christy. This needs to be said over and over. Enough already with the, “God protected me” when there are others who were just as faithful and yet not as fortunate. God is there, is here, is everywhere and maybe even cries the first tear…

  • Jane Moynagh

    So well stated! Thanks for sharing a belief that I, too, share with you!

  • Jane Moynagh

    So well stated! Thanks for sharing a belief that I, too, share with you!

  • Carol

    Thanks for this post. But…I am still stuck on the “why?” How can I get past asking that?

  • Carol

    Thanks for this post. But…I am still stuck on the “why?” How can I get past asking that?

  • Amen! Wise words and helpful.

  • Amen! Wise words and helpful.

  • Don Wiley

    In a time like this, I am reminded of Job. Job, chapters 38-42, specifically. God’s response to Job’s demands for answers is pretty straightforward. God says, in essence, I’d be happy to explain all of this to you: show me some of your resume’, a bit of your handiwork that shows me you will be able to understand what I am talking about…. After some questioning, Job realizes he is NOT up to the task… That is how I deal with the eternal ‘why’ – I have learned, sometimes painfully, that it is above my pay grade. That is not a Luddite response; it is my response based on 59 years of experience.

    It is my job to remain faithful and live my life, even in times of stress and pain, joyfully for the grace I have received. I believe we can never get enough images of gratefulness, especially when we are in need. It does not change my need but it can widen the scope of my focus beyond myself. There is a far larger picture….

    As for all the folks sensing God’s protecting hand: I do not doubt their experiences. I also believe God was with every man, woman and child who was injured or killed in the tornados in Granbury or Oklahoma. I believe He is there in the cleanup. I am OK with my lack of understanding of the apparent randomness of life – but I know (1) there is a God; (2) it is, thankfully, not me; (3) He loves me without reference to my “doings/not-doings”, good or bad; and (4) He will help me through whatever I am going through because He is there, in it, with me. That is how I can look outward to help others… and that is where the joy is and that’s what I’m called to. I believe He is Here, There and Everywhere…(with thanks to different John and Paul…)

  • Don Wiley

    In a time like this, I am reminded of Job. Job, chapters 38-42, specifically. God’s response to Job’s demands for answers is pretty straightforward. God says, in essence, I’d be happy to explain all of this to you: show me some of your resume’, a bit of your handiwork that shows me you will be able to understand what I am talking about…. After some questioning, Job realizes he is NOT up to the task… That is how I deal with the eternal ‘why’ – I have learned, sometimes painfully, that it is above my pay grade. That is not a Luddite response; it is my response based on 59 years of experience.

    It is my job to remain faithful and live my life, even in times of stress and pain, joyfully for the grace I have received. I believe we can never get enough images of gratefulness, especially when we are in need. It does not change my need but it can widen the scope of my focus beyond myself. There is a far larger picture….

    As for all the folks sensing God’s protecting hand: I do not doubt their experiences. I also believe God was with every man, woman and child who was injured or killed in the tornados in Granbury or Oklahoma. I believe He is there in the cleanup. I am OK with my lack of understanding of the apparent randomness of life – but I know (1) there is a God; (2) it is, thankfully, not me; (3) He loves me without reference to my “doings/not-doings”, good or bad; and (4) He will help me through whatever I am going through because He is there, in it, with me. That is how I can look outward to help others… and that is where the joy is and that’s what I’m called to. I believe He is Here, There and Everywhere…(with thanks to different John and Paul…)

  • Don Wiley

    In a time like this, I am reminded of Job. Job, chapters 38-42, specifically. God’s response to Job’s demands for answers is pretty straightforward. God says, in essence, I’d be happy to explain all of this to you: show me some of your resume’, a bit of your handiwork that shows me you will be able to understand what I am talking about…. After some questioning, Job realizes he is NOT up to the task… That is how I deal with the eternal ‘why’ – I have learned, sometimes painfully, that it is above my pay grade. That is not a Luddite response; it is my response based on 59 years of experience.

    It is my job to remain faithful and live my life, even in times of stress and pain, joyfully for the grace I have received. I believe we can never get enough images of gratefulness, especially when we are in need. It does not change my need but it can widen the scope of my focus beyond myself. There is a far larger picture….

    As for all the folks sensing God’s protecting hand: I do not doubt their experiences. I also believe God was with every man, woman and child who was injured or killed in the tornados in Granbury or Oklahoma. I believe He is there in the cleanup. I am OK with my lack of understanding of the apparent randomness of life – but I know (1) there is a God; (2) it is, thankfully, not me; (3) He loves me without reference to my “doings/not-doings”, good or bad; and (4) He will help me through whatever I am going through because He is there, in it, with me. That is how I can look outward to help others… and that is where the joy is and that’s what I’m called to. I believe He is Here, There and Everywhere…(with thanks to different John and Paul…)

  • “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.” No, I don’t think I will. Let those who experience God’s deliverance in this age praise his name.

    When I lead worship, I will continue to say, “With the confidence of God’s children, let us pray for the church, the world and all those in need.” When people ask me to pray for them in their illness or distress, I will continue pray expectantly for their deliverance. Are all healed? Are all fed? Are all injustices righted? Are all dangers averted? Not in the present age. But I will continue to pray for the same kind of in-breakings of the age to come that we see in Jesus’ works of power.

    Since I am neither the messiah nor one of his apostles, I cannot know with certainty why this thing happened instead of that thing, but when the sick who cry out to God are healed or the hungry fed or the imperiled delivered from danger, should they not thank God?

    Of course the cross of reveals that God is also present to his people in the suffering and injustice of this age just as he is foretastes of the age to come. It is not a question of whom God loves more. But to say that God never miraculously delivers his people seems contrary to the experience of Christians throughout the ages and the witness of the New Testament. And to tell those in the midst of praise to shut up seems both mean-spirited and pastorally misguided.

    Jesus healed many – all, in fact, for whom he took healing action – but he did not heal all the sick or demon possessed in Galilee. He left towns while people were still looking for him. When the people of Nazareth demanded that Jesus do for them what hid for Capernaum he said, “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian.” His reply made people angry. I suspect that not many people today would like it, either.

    There is a profound mystery here which for me boils down to, “Why hasn’t Christ yet come again to crush death and destroy injustice forever?” Perhaps that’s why the earliest Christian prayer recorded in the New Testament is “maranatha” (Our Lord, Come) and the seer of Revelation envisions God’s faithful crying out, “How long, O Lord?”

    • Matt

      Mitchell…I absolutely agree with you.

    • Larry

      Mitchell and Matt, I think you have steered, quite recklessly, from the original text. The matter at hand was implying that god protects the deserving and overlooks others. “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.” was a call, I believe, that doesn not limit praise to god, nor does it limit or reduce thanks being given to god. Rather, it is a different, and likely more appropriate, manner in which we can stop using god’s name in vein by telling folks, without knowing, that “God saved me.” In the same manner, instead of implying that God didn’t save others, we can simply exclaim, “Thank you god for letting me live another day and serve you.” Much different with much different effect. Think about this one, guys.

      • Larry, here’s the “original text.”

        “I would guess that many, just like the Granbury tornado survivor above, will affirm confidently, ‘God protected me.’ I say, ‘Let’s just stop saying that. Please.'”

        As I read it, the demonstrative pronoun “that” refers to the confident affirmation “God protected me.” Three unqualified words. What I tried to say, and perhaps I did a poor job of it, is that I am not willing to tell anyone to stop saying “that.” I am especially not willing to castigate a survivor of tragedy who is still in the midst of trauma for saying “that.”

        The authors of the psalms praise God for specific acts of deliverance. The authors of the Torah claim that God delivered his people from Pharaoh and from starvation in the wilderness. Who am I to disagree?

        Now such a sentiment can be expressed very awkwardly and many people will comprehend it naively, especially immature believers. People will also create problematic theological constructs with reference to God’s sovereignty. But the three simple words “God protected me” are not, in my view, the problem. They may raise questions about the mysteries associated with life in this age, but they certainly don’t by themselves denigrate those who are suffering.

        I believe that foretastes of the kingdom comparable to the mighty acts of power we see in Jesus’ ministry still take place in the world. Standing on the outside, as an objective observer, I can’t say for certain where they are ir where they aren’t, and I will never try to explain to you why something happened or didn’t happen. When I am on the inside, however, and I’ve been the one praying for deliverance in battle or illness or a hardship of any sort, you’d better bet that I too am going to say, “God delivered me” when my prayers are answered as I hoped.

        You may disagree with that.

  • “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.” No, I don’t think I will. Let those who experience God’s deliverance in this age praise his name.

    When I lead worship, I will continue to say, “With the confidence of God’s children, let us pray for the church, the world and all those in need.” When people ask me to pray for them in their illness or distress, I will continue pray expectantly for their deliverance. Are all healed? Are all fed? Are all injustices righted? Are all dangers averted? Not in the present age. But I will continue to pray for the same kind of in-breakings of the age to come that we see in Jesus’ works of power.

    Since I am neither the messiah nor one of his apostles, I cannot know with certainty why this thing happened instead of that thing, but when the sick who cry out to God are healed or the hungry fed or the imperiled delivered from danger, should they not thank God?

    Of course the cross of reveals that God is also present to his people in the suffering and injustice of this age just as he is foretastes of the age to come. It is not a question of whom God loves more. But to say that God never miraculously delivers his people seems contrary to the experience of Christians throughout the ages and the witness of the New Testament. And to tell those in the midst of praise to shut up seems both mean-spirited and pastorally misguided.

    Jesus healed many – all, in fact, for whom he took healing action – but he did not heal all the sick or demon possessed in Galilee. He left towns while people were still looking for him. When the people of Nazareth demanded that Jesus do for them what hid for Capernaum he said, “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian.” His reply made people angry. I suspect that not many people today would like it, either.

    There is a profound mystery here which for me boils down to, “Why hasn’t Christ yet come again to crush death and destroy injustice forever?” Perhaps that’s why the earliest Christian prayer recorded in the New Testament is “maranatha” (Our Lord, Come) and the seer of Revelation envisions God’s faithful crying out, “How long, O Lord?”

    • Matt

      Mitchell…I absolutely agree with you.

    • Larry

      Mitchell and Matt, I think you have steered, quite recklessly, from the original text. The matter at hand was implying that god protects the deserving and overlooks others. “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.” was a call, I believe, that doesn not limit praise to god, nor does it limit or reduce thanks being given to god. Rather, it is a different, and likely more appropriate, manner in which we can stop using god’s name in vein by telling folks, without knowing, that “God saved me.” In the same manner, instead of implying that God didn’t save others, we can simply exclaim, “Thank you god for letting me live another day and serve you.” Much different with much different effect. Think about this one, guys.

      • Matt

        Thanks Larry, but I understood the context. The issue is that the article challenges us to put away voicing our beliefs so that no one gets offended. The article is saying we cannot express, in our own words, our thanks to God because someone else may not believe the same way. You say that we were “reckless” in our interpretation of what was said but the problem is that we are no longer able to proclaim the truth even in Christian surroundings. If I say that I believe God pulls me through situations – it is because….I believe that God pulls me through situations. I would even go so far as to say that God has saved my life or protected me in the past. Now then….here is the real problem. What if God saved me and not someone else? If I say what I believe then it will hurt someones feelings.

        I do not want to walk around with a mild version of Christianity so I do not offend someone with the truth. I know that that sort of behavior goes directly against what I know as right and good and I just cannot do that.

  • “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.” No, I don’t think I will. Let those who experience God’s deliverance in this age praise his name.

    When I lead worship, I will continue to say, “With the confidence of God’s children, let us pray for the church, the world and all those in need.” When people ask me to pray for them in their illness or distress, I will continue pray expectantly for their deliverance. Are all healed? Are all fed? Are all injustices righted? Are all dangers averted? Not in the present age. But I will continue to pray for the same kind of in-breakings of the age to come that we see in Jesus’ works of power.

    Since I am neither the messiah nor one of his apostles, I cannot know with certainty why this thing happened instead of that thing, but when the sick who cry out to God are healed or the hungry fed or the imperiled delivered from danger, should they not thank God?

    Of course the cross of reveals that God is also present to his people in the suffering and injustice of this age just as he is foretastes of the age to come. It is not a question of whom God loves more. But to say that God never miraculously delivers his people seems contrary to the experience of Christians throughout the ages and the witness of the New Testament. And to tell those in the midst of praise to shut up seems both mean-spirited and pastorally misguided.

    Jesus healed many – all, in fact, for whom he took healing action – but he did not heal all the sick or demon possessed in Galilee. He left towns while people were still looking for him. When the people of Nazareth demanded that Jesus do for them what hid for Capernaum he said, “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian.” His reply made people angry. I suspect that not many people today would like it, either.

    There is a profound mystery here which for me boils down to, “Why hasn’t Christ yet come again to crush death and destroy injustice forever?” Perhaps that’s why the earliest Christian prayer recorded in the New Testament is “maranatha” (Our Lord, Come) and the seer of Revelation envisions God’s faithful crying out, “How long, O Lord?”

    • Matt

      Mitchell…I absolutely agree with you.

    • Larry

      Mitchell and Matt, I think you have steered, quite recklessly, from the original text. The matter at hand was implying that god protects the deserving and overlooks others. “Let’s just stop saying that. Please.” was a call, I believe, that doesn not limit praise to god, nor does it limit or reduce thanks being given to god. Rather, it is a different, and likely more appropriate, manner in which we can stop using god’s name in vein by telling folks, without knowing, that “God saved me.” In the same manner, instead of implying that God didn’t save others, we can simply exclaim, “Thank you god for letting me live another day and serve you.” Much different with much different effect. Think about this one, guys.

      • Matt

        Thanks Larry, but I understood the context. The issue is that the article challenges us to put away voicing our beliefs so that no one gets offended. The article is saying we cannot express, in our own words, our thanks to God because someone else may not believe the same way. You say that we were “reckless” in our interpretation of what was said but the problem is that we are no longer able to proclaim the truth even in Christian surroundings. If I say that I believe God pulls me through situations – it is because….I believe that God pulls me through situations. I would even go so far as to say that God has saved my life or protected me in the past. Now then….here is the real problem. What if God saved me and not someone else? If I say what I believe then it will hurt someones feelings.

        I do not want to walk around with a mild version of Christianity so I do not offend someone with the truth. I know that that sort of behavior goes directly against what I know as right and good and I just cannot do that.

      • Larry, here’s the “original text.”

        “I would guess that many, just like the Granbury tornado survivor above, will affirm confidently, ‘God protected me.’ I say, ‘Let’s just stop saying that. Please.'”

        As I read it, the demonstrative pronoun “that” refers to the confident affirmation “God protected me.” Three unqualified words. What I tried to say, and perhaps I did a poor job of it, is that I am not willing to tell anyone to stop saying “that.” I am especially not willing to castigate a survivor of tragedy who is still in the midst of trauma for saying “that.”

        The authors of the psalms praise God for specific acts of deliverance. The authors of the Torah claim that God delivered his people from Pharaoh and from starvation in the wilderness. Who am I to disagree?

        Now such a sentiment can be expressed very awkwardly and many people will comprehend it naively, especially immature believers. People will also create problematic theological constructs with reference to God’s sovereignty. But the three simple words “God protected me” are not, in my view, the problem. They may raise questions about the mysteries associated with life in this age, but they certainly don’t by themselves denigrate those who are suffering.

        I believe that foretastes of the kingdom comparable to the mighty acts of power we see in Jesus’ ministry still take place in the world. Standing on the outside, as an objective observer, I can’t say for certain where they are ir where they aren’t, and I will never try to explain to you why something happened or didn’t happen. When I am on the inside, however, and I’ve been the one praying for deliverance in battle or illness or a hardship of any sort, you’d better bet that I too am going to say, “God delivered me” when my prayers are answered as I hoped.

        You may disagree with that.

  • Matt

    “Yes, there will be miracles both of excellent preparation and simple good luck. There are the wise ones who had access to storm shelters and huddled there, listening to their houses collapse around them. I’ve read one wonderful story of a pre-school who gathered all their students in an interior bathroom, covered them, waited out the storm, and emerged with all unharmed but with the structure totally destroyed. I say, “Thanks be to God!” for that.”

    Excellent preparation and good luck are not miracles…they are exactly what you called them – “excellent preparation and good luck.”

    Also you said “Thanks be to God” for that…actually it seems that you are saying thanks be to….peoples preparation and good luck – not to God. It seems to me that the type of theology that you are proposing is one where God is absent all together.

  • Matt

    “Yes, there will be miracles both of excellent preparation and simple good luck. There are the wise ones who had access to storm shelters and huddled there, listening to their houses collapse around them. I’ve read one wonderful story of a pre-school who gathered all their students in an interior bathroom, covered them, waited out the storm, and emerged with all unharmed but with the structure totally destroyed. I say, “Thanks be to God!” for that.”

    Excellent preparation and good luck are not miracles…they are exactly what you called them – “excellent preparation and good luck.”

    Also you said “Thanks be to God” for that…actually it seems that you are saying thanks be to….peoples preparation and good luck – not to God. It seems to me that the type of theology that you are proposing is one where God is absent all together.

  • Matt

    “Yes, there will be miracles both of excellent preparation and simple good luck. There are the wise ones who had access to storm shelters and huddled there, listening to their houses collapse around them. I’ve read one wonderful story of a pre-school who gathered all their students in an interior bathroom, covered them, waited out the storm, and emerged with all unharmed but with the structure totally destroyed. I say, “Thanks be to God!” for that.”

    Excellent preparation and good luck are not miracles…they are exactly what you called them – “excellent preparation and good luck.”

    Also you said “Thanks be to God” for that…actually it seems that you are saying thanks be to….peoples preparation and good luck – not to God. It seems to me that the type of theology that you are proposing is one where God is absent all together.

    • Yes, that is one possibility. Another possibility is that I see the Holy Presence in all of life, that I see even the act of drawing a breath a miracle of life as the entire universe is held together by Christ.

      • Matt

        Indeed. So what need have we for God if we take care of these things ourselves? Where is the belief or the faith that one strives for in an Almighty if all we profess is; “well I was sure prepared for that…”

        The thing is – I believe with every ounce of my being that God really does pull me through certain situations that I am not prepared for. I absolutely stand on the fact that the Heavenly Father loves ME enough to carry me when I cannot walk and indeed there are other believers that may not feel that lift through the exact same scenario and so why would He carry me and not them? The same reason He may help others out of some situations that I must continue to struggle through…He is God. He does what He thinks is best.

  • TJ York is the Youth Director for FUMC Jacksboro and the Disciples church there. Here is an entry from his FB page today. He was also one of the ones who shared this column after I shared it on my page. Note the language he uses- you are influencing others in their thoughts. People you don’t even know!

    TJ York

    9 hours ago near Jacksboro, TX via mobile

    May, 27 2013- Reflection after my experience in Oklahoma.

    As we drove deeper and deeper into the path of this tornado the voices of the students quieted. The destruction was something I’ve never seen before. At least not like this, when it was so fresh. The horror was still alive. Garage doors, what was left of them, were turned into billboards as people painted messages for the world to read. The one that stood out most to me said “If you are just looking, get out”… In the middle of all of this pain, I saw something beautiful. I saw people come together and demonstrate what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ. There was not a street without a group of volunteers working to make a difference. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, coming together and doing what needed to be done. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

    Last Wednesday night my church youth group went door to door and collected items to take to Oklahoma. In a matter of 45 minutes we collected a ton of things – blankets, canned goods, diapers, toiletry items, clothing, and animal food. This morning we loaded up a trailer and off we went.

    We pulled into the temporary headquarters of Red Cross and began to unload our trailer. The place was packed with volunteers and donations. We unloaded about 20 blankets, along with the rest of our donations. After visiting with one of the volunteers we discovered quickly there was a need for ice. We jumped into the van and drove to 7-11, bought 35 bags of ice and quickly returned to the Red Cross. We could not have been gone for more than 10 minutes. As we began to a unpack the ice I noticed one of the pickups was filled with the blankets we had just unloaded. The driver of the truck knew someone who needed them. Because of our donation someone would have a blanket to sleep with.

    As fast as donations were being dropped off, they were being picked up equally as fast. The need is abundant but the effort to make a difference by people who care is helping to eliminate that need.

    People ask, “Where was God?” Let me tell you, God was in the collection center today. In every donation, God was there. God was there as my youth group went door-to-door last week. In the willingness for someone to serve, God was there. God was in the people who flooded the neighborhoods just days after the tornado. God is there as you pray for the people of Moore. In the days, weeks, and months to come God will be there as long as were continue to say yes and continue to serve. And God will be with whoever wraps themselves up in those warm blankets tonight.

    God is bigger than a tornado. God is bigger than the pain, suffering, and loss that people have experienced.

    May God’s love be shown through you and me as we say yes, as we serve.

  • TJ York is the Youth Director for FUMC Jacksboro and the Disciples church there. Here is an entry from his FB page today. He was also one of the ones who shared this column after I shared it on my page. Note the language he uses- you are influencing others in their thoughts. People you don’t even know!

    TJ York

    9 hours ago near Jacksboro, TX via mobile

    May, 27 2013- Reflection after my experience in Oklahoma.

    As we drove deeper and deeper into the path of this tornado the voices of the students quieted. The destruction was something I’ve never seen before. At least not like this, when it was so fresh. The horror was still alive. Garage doors, what was left of them, were turned into billboards as people painted messages for the world to read. The one that stood out most to me said “If you are just looking, get out”… In the middle of all of this pain, I saw something beautiful. I saw people come together and demonstrate what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ. There was not a street without a group of volunteers working to make a difference. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, coming together and doing what needed to be done. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

    Last Wednesday night my church youth group went door to door and collected items to take to Oklahoma. In a matter of 45 minutes we collected a ton of things – blankets, canned goods, diapers, toiletry items, clothing, and animal food. This morning we loaded up a trailer and off we went.

    We pulled into the temporary headquarters of Red Cross and began to unload our trailer. The place was packed with volunteers and donations. We unloaded about 20 blankets, along with the rest of our donations. After visiting with one of the volunteers we discovered quickly there was a need for ice. We jumped into the van and drove to 7-11, bought 35 bags of ice and quickly returned to the Red Cross. We could not have been gone for more than 10 minutes. As we began to a unpack the ice I noticed one of the pickups was filled with the blankets we had just unloaded. The driver of the truck knew someone who needed them. Because of our donation someone would have a blanket to sleep with.

    As fast as donations were being dropped off, they were being picked up equally as fast. The need is abundant but the effort to make a difference by people who care is helping to eliminate that need.

    People ask, “Where was God?” Let me tell you, God was in the collection center today. In every donation, God was there. God was there as my youth group went door-to-door last week. In the willingness for someone to serve, God was there. God was in the people who flooded the neighborhoods just days after the tornado. God is there as you pray for the people of Moore. In the days, weeks, and months to come God will be there as long as were continue to say yes and continue to serve. And God will be with whoever wraps themselves up in those warm blankets tonight.

    God is bigger than a tornado. God is bigger than the pain, suffering, and loss that people have experienced.

    May God’s love be shown through you and me as we say yes, as we serve.

    • Thank you for sharing this with me, David. Am having a bit of a hard day and reading this gave me a great lift to my spirits. So appreciate this.

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