There is really nothing quite like a Spring storm in the Midwest, especially in "Tornado Alley", of which we (the Kansas City metro area) are barely on the upper edge. I have lived in Kansas for 12 of my last 15 years and I am still amazed with the fury unleashed in a seeming instance by one of these powerful storm cells. I will never forget being in my apartment in Wichita in Spring of 1994 when I heard sirens blaring. "What is that?" this newly transplanted western New Yorker thought. I peaked out to see my neighbors piling in to an underground storage area. I grabbed my cat and followed them (Shari was at work,otherwise I would have ushered her to safe quarters too!). We sat huddled in the small, dark space until the storm passed. What a strange thing for someone not used to such an event. Tornadoes and hail are certainly what comes to mind when you think of this area in the Spring, however the straight line winds are what actually produce the most damage. Last night there were wind bursts of 65-75 mph right in my neighborhood. Thankfully they don't last long (nothing like a hurricane), but anything not structurally sound is going down.
Just before the storms rolled in last night, a faithful band of Redeemer members gathered in our sanctuary to pray on the "National Day of Prayer". It was a blessed time together. We sang one of my favorite hymns- "From Every Stormy Wind That Blows". The irony was thick as a powerful storm cell moved right over our area, one which produced a tornado just a few miles south of our location while we were meeting. Pastor Nathan was leading in prayers of adoration for God's various attributes when the tornado sirens started blaring in the distance. The dark clouds were rolling over us, deep green ones in the distance (usually indicative of hail), but of course, we prayed on! The service was divided up in to several parts, we were almost to the final one (prayers of petition) when Brian reported the tornado touchdown he had learned about on the local Internet weather report (he ran over to the WCA teacher's lab where there is a computer)- we decided to finish the meeting in the basement using the youth room. When we finished at 8:30 pm and came upstairs, it was raining with a vengeance no doubt reminiscent of Noah's day. It was pretty cool.
The relative speed with which conditions can turn bad in this part of the country is truly amazing. I praise God for the awesome display of his handiwork...and for substantial structures to hide my cowardly self in! As we prayed, heard Scripture read, and sang, the heavy rains and wind howled with the tornado siren going off intermittently. I couldn't help but think of the great words of Hugh Stowell's hymn-
From every stormy wind that blows,
From every swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat;
’Tis found beneath the mercy seat.