Sunday, May 18, 2008

Final Report on the Disaster

Thursday morning, I returned to work for the first time since last Sunday's tornado. Folks had told me how bad the campus where I work had been affected, but I still wasn't prepared. And I was seeing the damage four days after clean-up began.

There are now open vistas across the campus, where before you couldn't see anything but trees.

God was very kind. No one was hurt, and most of the buildings are okay. There are people in our city that are really hurting right now. I've seen pictures of homes torn apart. The poorer areas of town seem to have been affected most, and I've heard of some people whose food spoiled from the loss of power, and they're having trouble just feeding their families. So I realized how blessed my family and my college were.
Our grounds people are fabulous at landscaping and gardening. They'll take this mess and make the best of it, I know. Weeks or months from now, visitors to campus may not realize how different things are.

That's part of what makes me sad. So I want to give a brief eulogy for what used to be--and then I'll thank God for his protection and move on.
There was the walking trail through the woods by Lake Knee-Deep. I would say 95 percent of those trees were snapped in half and were destroyed. The woods will be gone. Future visitors may see a grassy field--or a new building under construction, who knows? They won't even know about the woods and the trail.

I may sound like I'm making a very sudden change of topic here, but there is a connection, so bear with me! A couple of days ago, I started hearing about a novel called The Shack, by William P. Young. Apparently it's quite controversial among Christians, with some praising it and some condemning. As I understand it, the main character interacts with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are in the forms of a homey African-American woman, a Middle Eastern man, and an Asian woman. I haven't read the book and can't really comment on the controversy. However, I get a little concerned sometimes with the sheer number of books and movies out there that portray God as the guy next door. Someone on your level, someone you would never be afraid of.

And then I see something like the power of this tornado, which reached out and destroyed a little forest in a couple of minutes. And I realize that tornado is just a tiny tool in the hands of God. He made the woods, and in a few seconds, he can destroy them.

I long for books that show God's love and mercy, yes--but that also remind us of his power, his holiness. Remember how the Israelites couldn't even bear to look at the face of Moses after he had been in the presence of God? They couldn't even face a tiny reflection of his glory. I'd love to read a book that makes our mouths drop in awe of the Lord.

Even more, I long to be able to write that book. Maybe someday.
I don't think it's coincidental that these lines were in our call to worship this morning:
"Eternal God,
you are the power behind all things;
behind the energy of the storm,
behind the heat of a million suns."