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Monday, May 17, 2010

Before the Storm

This past week, we had some pretty high winds in Tulsa where I live. One morning we woke up at 4:30 to the sound of the tornado sirens (I know, most places don't even have tornado sirens!) so my wife and I got up to check the TV and radio and see what was going on. Luckily and thank the Lord, we weren't in the path of it, but there were winds of 90mph and an EF2 tornado that nicked the Southeast corner of Tulsa and completely removed the roofs from several houses and buildings. The next morning around the same time we had more strong thunderstorms, but no tornadoes. Oklahoma is no stranger to vicious weather patterns, but that doesn't make it any less jarring to see pictures of semi trucks lying on their sides and inner rooms of buildings exposed to the sky. (Thankfully, to my knowledge nobody actually was injured by this tornado, which is basically a miracle in itself!)

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and lived in that area until I was nine years old. I don't remember taking cover from any hurricanes during those years, but I was probably just lucky; anyone who doesn't know by now that very dangerous hurricanes hit the Gulf coast must have been living in a cave for the past few years. My mother, who spent her youth in New Orleans and Houston, has stories of hurricanes, including one that literally split a house in half so that there was a crack from floor to ceiling that you could see daylight through. High winds are nothing to play with!

These days we have weather-prediction equipment that can not only generally plot on a map exactly where tornadoes are when they are occurring, but they can tell you what time, to the minute, that you should take cover. People who are paying attention can know exactly what's going on, which is one reason why loss of life in tornadoes is a lot less now than it once was. But you've got to take proper steps to be safe. When a tornado hits, you don't want to be in a car. You don't want to be outside at all, but if you are outside, you want to be flat on the ground or preferably in a low area like a ditch, instead of in a vehicle. Preferably you want to be inside a building, but you don't want to be near windows that can implode on you; you want to be in an inner room with four walls and no windows. If you can, you want to install a storm shelter that's designed to withstand tornado-force winds. There are things you can do to prepare for stormy weather.

I had a dream about that last night. I don't often remember my dreams, and usually when I do, they're just laughable too-much-pizza-before-bed dreams. But occasionally I have a dream that I consider a spiritual dream, and I believe this one was. I won't go so far as to say it is prophetic; I'll leave that determination up to you. It doesn't seem prophetic to me, but maybe it is in your life. I'll just tell you about it and let you evaluate that for yourself.

In my dream, I was much younger: probably a teenager. We had two computers in the house, and there was a hurricane coming. I was trying to shut down Windows on the computers. (Remember that when I was a teenager, I had moved away from hurricane country, computers were much too expensive for most families to have more than one if they even had one, and Microsoft Windows had not been invented yet!) I always keep all of my computers turned on 24 hours a day; there's an ongoing debate about whether it is better for computers to remain powered up all the time (creating wear and tear on moving parts like fans) or to be turned off when they are not in use (creating a momentary spike in power to the components when the computer comes on), but I fall into the "leave it turned on so it can start being useful without having to boot up first" camp. When there is stormy weather, though, it's best to turn your computers off (and even disconnect them from the wall power if possible) to avoid damage from lightning or from multiple cycles if the power flickers on and off. That's what I was doing in my dream. One of the computers turned off just fine, but I was having a little trouble getting Windows to shut down on the other one; if you've ever tried to shut down an older computer, you may know what I mean. Sometimes Windows just doesn't want to give up and shut off! I needed to get this thing shut down and get into the little storm shelter, so finally I gave up and physically hit the power button (which sometimes is the only way you can get some installations of Windows to shut down). I headed toward the storm shelter, and that was the end of the dream.

Rough times invariably happen to each of us. Sometimes the "winds of change" blow a bit harder and a little more fiercely than we are comfortable with. If we are tuned into the voice of the Holy Spirit (which is what happens when you spend time in the Word of God, in prayer, in worship) God will be able to give you early warning when something is blowing up, like the man on TV who tells me when it's time to take cover from a tornado. And God will provide the shelter from the storm. But we also have a responsibility; it is our responsibility to take God's warning seriously and to prepare properly before the storm hits. Sometimes, like my first computer, those preparations may be easy. Sometimes, like my second computer, the preparations may get a little more tricky to carry out. And sometimes we may have to just cut the power and run for shelter. But you'll notice in my dream that the storm didn't hit while I was in the middle of my preparations. God knows how long it will take you to prepare for what's ahead, and He will send warning in plenty of time. Relax! Calm down. Do what needs to be done. God is your protection in your storm, and He's given you the perfect amount of time to get your house in order before the storm hits.


Sararose said...

hello i'm Sara
i was cliking on next blog and yours came up i read and liked please be my friend
yours in christ
This is my tag

TulsaMJ said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Sara! Here's a live link to Sara's blog: