Texas Tornados, Faith, & Preparation

If you’ve been a Christian long enough, you have struggled between faith and preparation. I’m redoing my last requests, my funeral, and making as many arrangements as I can so I don’t leave the burden to my family. I’m trusting God for many fruitful years, but wisdom dictates that we must prepare. Can I say that I trust God while writing my will and organizing my funeral? Some would say if I trusted God for life I wouldn’t be planning my funeral. The boundary between faith and preparedness isn’t the same for each person. Our faith is as individual as a fingerprint and God frowns on us judging others in this matter. He expects us to check our own hearts and use wisdom. How do we know when we are using our faith or merely being presumptuous?

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:13-14

Searching For A Sign

As I write this, we are under a tornado warning in Texas. As the storm closes in, I search for signs. I enjoy visits from a variety of birds and fill my bird feeders regularly. As I walk along my back yard, I realize the birds’ songs have been replaced with an eery silence. I note the change in atmospheric pressure. The scent of fresh rain-washed wind blows harder against my face lifting my hair in its rhythm. Utter darkness has suddenly eclipsed the Texas sky like a wool blanket. Watching from my covered porch, I scan the sky for a funnel cloud. I watch the storm whip the trees back and forth. The rain begins to pound hard in sideways blowing sheets. I note that the trees’ motion changes to circles. It’s time to go inside and prepare. I feel a familiar danger in my gut, equal parts, excitement, and fear.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:4 New International Version (NIV)

Matters of the Heart

God has not elected us as the judge of other people’s faith. Man looks at the outside, but God sees the heart. However, wisdom is lauded throughout the Bible, and even Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Like many things in our faith walk, our approach to storms in life is a heart matter. While preparing the shelter at my house, I analyzed my motivation. Was it in fear or wisdom that I’m prepping? I’ve had people tell me that if I trusted God, I wouldn’t need to take such precautions. I felt like telling them if they believed God, they wouldn’t have to wear glasses, take a vitamin, or blood pressure medicine, but I keep quiet as I should. As I set up our chairs, battery-powered candles, flashlights, drinks and snacks, power cords, and pets kennels, I pray and meditate on Psalm 91.

 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.  Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Romans 14: 2-4

What Does Faith Look Like?

When my kids were small, and we had a “tornado watch”, I restocked their travel backpacks with coloring books, a book, snacks, wipes, etc. When the “tornado watch” turned to a “tornado warning,” I’d grab the radio/cd player, drinks, and the dog and kennel, and I’d set up the bathroom. I’d then have the kids bring their pillows, blankets, current reading books, and we’d pile in the kids’ tiny bathroom at the center of that house for our shelter. We’d huddle, cuddle, read, listen, and have fun. Did I have faith that God would take care of us? Yes. Why was I huddled in the bathroom if I had faith? Because I’m using wisdom. Where is my faith? My faith lies in how I prepare, in my heart.

Two Ways To Prepare

1 -My terrified kids and I were huddling in the bathroom with helmets on listening to the weather radio, desperately praying God’s protection with every clap of thunder.

2 My kids and I in the bathroom with coloring books, fun kids worship music, Adventures in Odessy, (the equivalent of a cartoon audiobook today) with the weather radio alerts on and enjoying time together.

In both cases, I was wise and did everything in my power to make us safe. I brought all of the same necessities and made essential preparations and even tried to make it fun. However, for example, #1, I was praying, but I was praying in fear, and kids pick that up. Sometimes, that’s what we have, it’s our capacity, or the challenge is significant.

In the case of #2, I had the assurance in God’s sovereignty. It’s a principle that weaves itself throughout the walk of faith. We don’t always know where that line is. We take precautions and wisdom, and we lift the rest to God; this is how we walk by faith and not by sight.

Strong Words

Jesus had strong words for us who judge others’ faith. He expects us to help them, not judge them, and to work on our own issues. If we can, we help them. I don’t need to be harshly judging others who don’t take shelter, but I find that hard. Our faith is as individual as any relationship and we will answer for our own decisions and actions, not anyone else’s. Something I found out the hard way is that when we judge others we harden our hearts to receiving grace for ourselves. Give harshness you get it back, even within yourself. If I focus on my own tasks, I use wisdom, and not judge others, I can rest assured once I’ve done all I can and trust God for the rest.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

The Way To Exit

We can believe God for long life, but no one knows the day or the hour they will die. I’m going to be finished with my final arrangements within the next week. (God willing) I’m praying as I’m making them that they won’t be necessary for an extended time. By relieving my family of hard decisions in their grief. Through this preparation, I can help my family even in death. That’s the way to exit! I’m also prepared spiritually. Everyone in my family knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I’m gone from them, I’ll be in heaven. It’s not because of good works but God’s grace that I found on the Romans Road. When I pass, it’s merely a passage to heaven. I leave them with the comfort that my death isn’t a goodbye, but only a see you later. I’ll be singing heaven’s song.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]

1 Corinthians 15:54-55

Heaven’s Song

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