He Came On The Wind
by Lauren Mitchell
I come from a long line of women who have been defined by several things. One, we are talkers. I get this directly from my mother. No matter how long we have been married my husband can’t get over how I can go into a restroom and come out with a new friend. He’s always like, “Do you know her?”, and I always say, “I do now”. I seriously think I could have a conversation with a mime. The second thing I inherited is not so great. I come from a long line of women controlled by fear. My husband has a catch phrase for me, “It doesn’t have to be possible; it just has to be terrible”. As funny as this is, it’s sadly been true. Fear has at times totally controlled my life. That’s what it does. I’m about to share how God strategically used one of my greatest fears to free me. Only He can do something like that.
On the night of April 28, 2011, one of my greatest fears was realized when an EF4 tornado took our house. When you know that I have been terrified of tornados since 2nd grade it adds a lot of meaning. Adults used to try to comfort me by assuring me that I would never be in a tornado. My desire here is for God to get the glory and not the tornado, so I am including just a few pics and doing my best to minimalize details.
The important things to know are that God totally prepared me only in the moment I needed it, not before. God let me know that the tornado was coming. I had completely cleaned out the floor of our pantry and supplied it with blankets, headlamps and shoes. My husband and I literally made it to the pantry with our two small children, our four-year-old Kate and two-year-old Brian, seconds before the windows completely blew out of the house. This pantry was the only complete room left in the aftermath. It’s even more miraculous that God spared my Father, who was ironically taking shelter at our house for the night instead of spending it in the Atlanta airport. He was in the upstairs and as you can tell from the picture above, we didn’t have an upstairs anymore after the tornado. There are so many details and miracles I don’t have space to share. I’ll just have to hope we can meet in person sometime over coffee and I can tell you my story.
Here is what I’ve learned about fear. Fear has no real hold on us in the present because God’s presence is with us every minute we choose it. Fear can only get a hold on us when we leave the present and try to grasp the future or the past. Most of the fears I’ve ever experienced, even if they came to fruition, were not what I had imagined. My imagination, admittedly more active than most, sets me up to fear things that will probably never be. Satan wants to kidnap our thoughts because He knows how important they are. He knows that our actions flow from them. It’s why Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines your path.” Fear boiled down is simply unbelief, and Satan wants our thoughts to be characterized by fear instead of belief. We can choose belief and focus on God and let Him define us, or we can let our own thoughts play on our emotions and wreak havoc with our actions and be defined by them.
In my personal experience, what I imagined of my fear was way worse than the fear realized because I could not have imagined how present God would be in our tornado. He was tangibly present. I can’t ever imagine how He will meet my needs until He does. He always meets them in the moment I need them, not sooner and not a second later. I can choose to look away from God in the present and focus on my past or turn to try to stare long into the future, all the while He stands patiently right beside me waiting for me to look at Him. That’s the answer to fear. It’s Psalm 26:3,
“For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness”
When we can’t imagine fear away, we set out eyes on Steadfast love and walk on in His faithfulness. The Message translation says it like this, “So I never lose sight of your love, but keep in step with you, never missing a beat”.
This tornado has in a way defined me, not in the way Satan intended it to cripple me with fear and doubt, but in the beautiful way it deepened my belief in God. It has been one of God’s greatest kindnesses to me. Telling this story over reminds me of the goodness and glory of God. When we tell our stories in the light of God’s glory, God’s glory defines us