Perhaps I should start here. Maybe over here is better. Underneath over there needs attention, my attention, but so does that over yonder. Starting at the beginning, right where I am standing, will be best. Just as the stirrings occur in the atmosphere, so has my heart for disaster relief. I don't really know where this need to help out began, but trust it begins in God's heart and is transferred to mine. My mother had a big heart to help others and she modeled that with her giving. Helping others because you get to and not because you have to is the greatest blessing received and given. Even though I felt I had to go to Tuscaloosa, AL, as if to satisfy a driving need in me, I came to realize it is more to satisfy the driving need God asks of me and is urging me to do. Extending grace to others is one of the greatest gifts people allow us to do for them. I struggle with receiving, but I witnessed His Love extended as people received trust, as they watched and learned, choking back the devastation that broke their lives. "I have to trust those who make the decisions on my behalf", one woman said. Such a simple concept, yet the greatest commandment we are asked by God. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding....." Prov. 3:3 When I follow this, a freedom to do and go where He leads is uninhibited.
Three weeks into it and much had already been done. The scab that remained was beginnning to peel away what lay underneth. New life, new beginnings, new creation. When I stood in one yard seeing through to the next yard, the next neighborhood, the next hillside that once was blocked by trees, residents, and brush strokes of planned communities, I did not know where to begin as if the power of this storm suddenly brought on attention deficit. Looking forward I see destruction, looking behind destruction, looking north, south, east and west it was all around, destruction. Yet, I was taught by a few good Friday men and Samaritans Purse, to stay on the task at hand, be thankful to God for the opportunity to serve Him and to appreciate the why's. Why did this house get hit and this one did not? Why did we live and others did not?
Unsettling as twister's beginnings are, that happened right where I was standing then moved on, so was the task at hand to pick up the pieces. And there were lots of pieces to pick up. Cinch by the inch, a little here, a lot there, and nothing over yonder and feeling the pain of the stain left behind. Shoring up the holicaust that spread its tormenting vapor like a blender emptied upon the land. Life is going on for those who witnessed the rampage rage of destruction and power of winds that sucked the life from lives, ears and pipes from shaded hillside treetop manors. What was once the norm is now far from normal and seems more like survival. Twice baked from disaster some give up, others don't. God says "Do not fear, for I am with you" Is. 41:10 even when it doesn't look like it.
|After finally clearing away the limbs the house behind revealed.|
Frank Sinatra's That's Life is playing. A familiar tune as I eat in my comfortable booth wrapping around me in temporary comfort of the here and now. "Pick yourself back up and get back in the race"......is it a race? Is it? There was no race set before us, just time. Lots of time to press on wondering when will be the last stoop, the last haul, the last shovel, the calm restored and life as they know it. Well we don't know it, He does. Keeping my eyes on the prize, God is able to exchange calamity for restoration. Their lives will be different, never the same, reborn into something new, the chaff burned away, flowing like rain, darkness swept away letting His flame burn to glorify His Name. I know I will never be the same again.
I woke this morning sore from the pulling of limbs. Little scratches remain on my arms for a few days reminding me of my time there. A small and insignificant price to pay. My limbs pulling the limbs tangled and ensnared by thorns, buildings and rubble. Limbs that had to be cut to relieve the crush of a shed, a house, a car, a life, a town. Pulling, sometimes dragging heaps of vines hee-hawing our way to the curb as we all worked together with ropes attached like mules, dragging, pulling, heaving, burning, ripping as I felt the glory of the cross......like Christ as He pulled His cross through town, down the road and up the hill. He did that for us, we do that for Him for them. They did not plan for this, but He teaches us that in His plan, His death on the cross, His Grace extended to be the hands and feet for others.....we live.