New Year’s Eve brought unseasonably warm temperatures around here. St. Louis is the arm pit of the United States. We get a conglomeration of everybody’s weather. Which means it can be 60 degrees at 9:00 and 20 degrees by 2:00. We get the snow and ice, the heat and humidity. We live with weather whiplash.
LIVE WITH IT.
So the unseasonably warm temps were not all that unseasonable…or at least they weren’t unreasonable. However, the warm weather mixed with the frigid temps immediately following made for some contemptuous weather. And this set up quite a disaster.
Sloan’s terror of all things weather has been well documented over the years. Remember this post? So when the skies turned nasty Friday morning, he grew all aflutter with nervous energy. Thankfully the kids were having friends over. A brother and sister who are the same ages as Sloan and Tia. It was the perfect distraction.
Before the friends descended upon us, Sloan got more than worked up about the impending weather. So he asked Lee to pray with him and pray they did. Sloan pleaded with the Lord to stop the storms and keep the tornado away from our house.
It turns out Sloan’s friend may have him beat in storm terror. Around 11:00, the tornado sirens went off and so did the boys. There were tears, there was quite a bit of jumping around and then the neighbor begged us to call his parents. And the girls stood in the corner protesting loudly.
“We’re not scared. We don’t want to go home. We want to keep playing. No! There’s not gonna be a tornado!”
After the kids left, the sirens went off a second time. Hmmm…we turned the TV on to see what was going on, but that sent Sloan into a freak out of massive proportions. So off the TV went and we delved into distraction mode.
The sky turned ugly…green. Rain pelted sideways. And yet, there was not wind. The trees weren’t bent. No limbs fell. And then – it was over.
The sun came out and Lee ran out to the store. A friend called shortly after. “Are you guys okay?” she asked. And suddenly I panicked. What had I forgotten?
“The tornado touched down in your back yard.”
I flipped the TV on to see if there was any news on our area. I called Lee and told him to drive by the nearby golf course where the tornado hit. He came home shortly after with the news that the golf course had quite a bit of damage. Huge trees uprooted and lying on their sides.
“Sloan and Tia come with me. Let’s go see the tornado damage.”
So off they drove to survey the damage. Driving down our street there wasn’t a limb down. No debris. And then they turned left off our street where branches lay scattered. Driving past the next street, a large tree lay on it’s side. Driving past the second street, several houses were missing shingles and more trees and limbs lay strewn about.
Lee turned down the third street down and was shocked at what he saw. The tornado had come right through there. Cars lay flattened by trees. Houses were missing large sections of their roofs. There was extensive damage.
But no wind blew past our house.
As the crow flies – or tornado blows – that neighborhood was 300 yards from our house. And it appeared as if the wind stopped blowing right at the threshhold of our street. As if some invisible source was holding it back…
Did God withhold the winds and tornado from our home because Sloan prayed? I think that’s a tricky question to answer. Because there very well could have been people who were affected who prayed for protection as well. I don’t claim that God chose Sloan’s prayers over another. I do think, however, that God revealed Himself in a mighty way to my seven year old. I do think that God held even a whisper of wind at bay so He could show my son that He is, indeed, the One who controls the wind.
We were also able to show Sloan the grace of God’s protection as we pointed out the damaged homes and the people who were not harmed despite the tornado’s passing. We were able to point out that God’s protection does not always extend to the material things we have on this earth. But He protected His people that day.
Sadly, six people were killed (none in our area) by the storms that came through the Midwest on Friday. Does this mean that God’s protection wasn’t extended to those who died? No. It does show that our days are numbered and life is never a guarantee. We didn’t get into those truths with Sloan just yet. We’re trying to dispel fear in his heart. But we were able to confirm to him that God hears and answers prayer. This is a lesson I want my kids to know and trust without wavering as they grow older.
Had the tornado come just 300 yards to the North, we would have been able to confirm in Sloan’s heart that God is a God of protection and grace. Had our home been destroyed we would have been able to show Sloan that God is One who remains the same, even when our circumstances change.
More than anything I’m grateful that my son’s tender heart was given a valuable lesson on New Year’s Eve. I’m grateful we were spared. I’m praying for our neighbors. And I’m thankful that we have a God who says Let the little children come to me.
A few grainy cell phone images of the damage near our home: