God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.-Psm. 46:1-3 (NRSV)
On a dark and stormy afternoon, a multi-car pile-up trapped rush hour commuters on top of a dam spanning the Tennessee River. An EF-2 tornado had dropped out of a low-hanging sky, ripping protective fencing from the bridge and terrorizing motorists who had no place to hide. Mercifully, it moved on, demolishing a construction site and decorating the ridgeline with pink insulation, corrugated tin, and twisted metal.
This was not a scene from a special effects disaster flick, but a scary reality this Halloween week. Cell phone pictures of the funnel cloud hovering over the mall were broadcast on local stations. Viewers saw the twister just before it touched down at the river. As EMS vehicles swarmed to the dam, a long line of captive motorists on the bridge watched in horror as the storm churned along the top of the water, then mounted the ridge to scalp the roof from a hilltop apartment building. Not far away, a new homeowner scanned the skies. When the funnel dropped 50 yards from his house, he tore inside and took his wife to the basement. They survived, but in five seconds, 80% of their house was gone. The next day, I picked up broken pieces of someone's laminate flooring in my front yard.
We've all been through storms. Some come from Mother Nature. Others are the products of human nature. Some we see coming. Others take us by surprise. They may not strike us directly, but we may be called on to help clean up the debris.
This week the fallout from a human squall line blew in via email and landed on my desktop. In the midst of a busy day, I wasn't in the mood to referee a petty dispute so I stopped and prayed for wisdom and for a right spirit to stem the tide of aggravation rising within. My attempt at a moderating response fell short and only escalated the rhetoric. This person's storm had been small to me-until it became my own. God I need help here and He delivered it-- on Facebook!
A young woman I hadn't heard from in years sent me a message I needed to hear:
u had a sincere impact on me that i have reflected on many times over the yrs. thank u for believing in me from an early age and seeing past the rebellion and angst to see the real me inside. it took me a long time to embrace that i am a "worthwhile child of God." self acceptance has been a powerful thing for me and i appreciate that u accepted me long before i did myself.
Self acceptance. We all fall short, and storms happen. They can be destructive, but they also clear the air and offer a chance to build back better, stronger--courtesy of the Stiller of Storms, our Master Carpenter, and the Prince of Peace.
I sent my associate another email: "I think we can do better. Let's reboot and begin again."