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Tornadoes in Dallas and Meteorological March Madness

Damaged cars are seen amid the debris after a tornado struck a residential neighborhood in Lancaster, Texas April 3, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Mike Stone)It's not good when your local weather makes national headlines, but that's the case this morning.  The Washington Post, USA Today, Fox News, and CNN are all reporting on yesterday's storms in the Dallas area.

Truck trailers were tossed through the air.  Hail the size of baseballs pummeled the region.  The National Weather Service estimates that six to 12 tornadoes touched down in our area, causing major damage to homes and businesses.  More than a dozen people were injured.  Schools were in "lock down" mode all afternoon, with parents unable to get their children until the storms passed.  More than 110 planes at DFW Airport were damaged by hail; 370 departures were canceled.  Our ministry sent everyone home before the tornadoes reached us.

America is seeing more tornadoes than ever before, over a larger part of the country than ever before.  Our severe weather in Dallas is part of a continuing pattern.  Weather experts are calling last month "Meteorological March Madness." Record temperatures hit as much as 35 degrees above normal.  The U.S. broke or tied at least 7,733 daily high temperatures, far more than the number of records broken in last summer's heat wave.  For millions of Americans, it was the warmest March of their lifetimes.  We haven't had such a warm spring since 1910.

When we woke up in our area yesterday, none of us knew we would face one of the worst outbreaks of tornadoes in our history.  Isn't that the way life usually is?  More than 3,200 people around the world are killed each day in car accidents; none of them knew when they got in their car that they would die there.  Niels Bohr was right: "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."

What about this day don't you know yet?  The only way to prepare for a tornado is to get ready before it strikes.  The same principle holds spiritually.  On Wednesday of Holy Week, the greatest crisis any human has ever faced was looming.  The next day Jesus would face stress so great his capillaries would burst and he would sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44).  His disciples would abandon him; he would be arrested and tortured.  In two days he would be dead.

With this storm coming, how did our Lord prepare?  He spent "Quiet Wednesday" with his friends in solitude and prayer.  He knew the truth of Psalm 91: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (vs. 1-2).  A shelter is no good in a storm unless we get inside; a fortress can protect only those who trust it.

Our culture rewards self-sufficiency and initiative.  But when a tornado is coming, should you stand and fight, or should you "rest in the shadow of the Almighty"?  How is that question relevant to your life this morning?


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