Shorts and flip-flops on Christmas Day? This has been a very strange Christmas in the South. It was 78 degrees on Christmas Day. I know it has been odd all over the country. The problem with the warmth in the months that are supposed to be cold is the propensity for storms. In the South, warm weather during the winter usually is a recipe for disaster brought about by whirring winds. Yep, you guess it! Tornadoes. Growing up in the North, tornadoes were threat, but never as real or severe a threat for me on the Lake Michigan coast as they have become in Mississippi.
The sound of those sirens and the chatter of social media and new reporting the dreaded “polygons” as our weather teams call them, strikes fear into everyone in the area. Hallways, closets and bathrooms become camp grounds for families who need to take cover at a moments notice. Listening to the wind and studying the movement of the clouds makes us all nervous storm chasers standing at our front and back doors. Christmas Eve brought a horrible tornado through Holly Springs, Mississippi this year. I live just a few miles from there, and the fear became incredibly real. Each time one strikes, it brings me to my knees.
We do things to prepare for tornadoes in the South, just like folks do for blizzards in the North. When we moved here 21 years ago, I learned the term “tornado pajamas”. I thought it just meant to be sure to put on matching jammies. You know…so if the news crew interviews you, you look alright. Sort of like Momma telling you to put on clean underwear in case you were ever in a wreck. Nope, not the purpose of tornado pajamas. Tornado jammies have pockets in them. Pockets so you can keep your phone with you, and your identification. Identification…in case anyone has to identify your body. What a grim thought.
There is a fashion accessory that should accompany the tornado jammies. Those would be shoes. Preferably rubber sole. One reason is because you can put your identification in them. The other is to protect your footsies from shrapnel. Yep. If you’re roaming around in the refuge following a storm, you need shoes on. The lessons we learn, and immediately apply in times of trouble.
What about the most important thing to wear when preparing for a storm? I’m not just talking about the wind storms. I’m talking about life’s storms. What should you wear when disaster strikes? When illness takes over, when fear cripples you? It’s the storms in our lives that wound our souls and leave shrapnel in our path that can’t be stepped over. You can’t step over it, crawl under it, push it away with a bulldozer, or reconnect it at the power pole. Those storms. The ones that come with sleepless nights, gut wrenching tears, hospital waiting rooms, and funeral home visitations.
Dear sister, you need the armor of God to weather those storms. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” Psalm 46:1-2. God is the answer to the storms of our lives, because He alone can calm those storms. Our God, In Mark 4:39-41 calmed a great storm on a raging sea. His disciples were certain they would die. They cried out to Jesus, and “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Sister, He can calm your storms too…just have faith.
Why is it then, that we fail to trust Him on a regular basis? Y’all, the mountains tremble at His name, and the raging seas calm at His rebuke. The blind will see, the deaf will heart, the lame will walk, and yes…even the dead can live all because of our God. So who are we to fear? Trust dear sister, trust in our Lord!
God reminds again tonight that He is in control. Y’all as we live in an unpredictable world filled with illness, hurts, death, and yes…even tornadoes at Christmas, God reminds us of His promise. He IS our refuge and strength. He IS very present at each and every time of need.
Our fear comes from the unknown, our fear comes from wondering how we will make it through. God already knows how. He has a plan for us. He allows us to, like small children, trust Him to shelter us from the storms. He picks us up, and sets us down on solid ground. Oh, and dear sister, on those days when you can’t bear to stand because the weight of those storms is bearing down upon you…He holds you up. For God is your strength.
Dear sister, I pray that you can find comfort in knowing that no matter what storm you may face, God is your refuge and strength. His plan is not always our plan, but His plan IS perfect. Let Him be your strength and refuge in good…and in bad.