Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Somewhere in the Middle of Coming & Going

A tornado rolled through Vancouver last Thursday. With a mind of its own it touched down here & there and tossed out an ominous collection of sights & sounds. Hail that seemed to be signaling the Apocalypse framed and accented by lightning strikes from cloud to ground. Roofs were torn off buildings, bricks were stripped off walls, 200 trees came down and a semi-truck was body-slammed to the mat of the pavement…and then it was gone. Witnesses, with the smell of lightening in the air, looked to each other with blank faces and, yes I know Mr. Fujita, didn’t care that the tornado would later only merit an F1 badge because…it was big enough. You had to be there. I was.

Hunger pains had me longing for Baja Fresh around noon the day of the tornado. I was to meet a friend for lunch but due to car trouble he had to cancel. So I returned to my notes and thoughts in preparation of the very first gathering of the Imago Dei Inklings. As I returned to my Gateway to buckle down and finish my mere introduction to Mere Christianity, I heard a series of thunder claps drawing nearer to me. I knew that thunder this time of year was rather rare but what I didn’t know was probably a blessing; ignorance is bliss for a man without a basement in the direct path of a tornado.

All was calm as I heard a silent but resounding voice directed at my thoughts (”Hey! Get up!”). Taking the direction off camera, I left my bedroom and walked through the house. As I looked through the front windows I could feel the atmosphere change. I’m glad I didn’t know how near I was to a storm that had packed 100 mph plus winds. From the eerie calmness (and realization I was alone) the winds came abruptly and without knocking as our metal screen door was slammed open. The intruder was here and our Douglas firs bordering our front yard acted as sentry guards by swaying violently with the brute force winds that announced his coming. Sometimes 15 seconds can seem like an hour…or two. Thoughts assailed my mind from every direction as the wind above my home: Where should I go? Is my family safe? Should I go have lunch now? A grilled-cheese sure sounds good.

A frantic phone call from my daughter warning me Vancouver was under some sort of environmental attack deemed ‘Code Green’ broke the calm all around me. One of those moments you’d expect a ‘jump scene’ in a film (something startling happens…like the windows blow out) and the jump scene is replaced by a phone ringing out of the silence invoking not only fear but irritation as well. I hate those scenes. The wind was gone and the trees had ended their rumble without incident. With a calm voice I responded to her call of distress, “yes…I know.”

Somewhere in the middle of life I’ve discovered that as much as I plan ahead I have very little say in my comings and goings. Washington state covers 71, 342 square miles and is rated 47th in nation (Oregon is 46th) for frequency of tornado sightings…last Thursday those statistics meant nothing to me. If the tornado had been on the ground it would have come directly through my neighborhood. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it except stand in fear and awe.

I can’t stop the storm but I can live in the promise of Hope. I can take each day as a gift and live it as best I can in light of Christ knowing another twister of life, whether it be cancer, losing a loved one, broken relationships, unemployment or whether it’s simply the weather, may at a moments notice come barreling through my life. Jesus never promised an Eden for us here, the garden was pummeled by an F5, but He did promise to rescue our souls from the funnel cloud of sin constantly pulling us, pressuring us towards the carnal man. And He promised to be with us, even in the storm.

I finished preparing for the Inklings and headed off to Sydney’s. Our first gathering was an amazing experience to say the least. Although the group was large (27 people) the conversation flowed with all the finesse of a small intimate group of good friends. God’s Spirit was there, I could feel the atmosphere change, and I was thankful for this City, for these people and for my Faith in the One that has made the comings & goings in the middle of my life make sense out of some of the storms of my past.

Paul Harvey’s famous line comes to mine, “and now you know the rest of the story.” As I sit at half-life in my mid-forties and reflect on my past and embrace the Hope of my future…I wouldn’t even know where to begin in knowing the rest of my story. I do know one thing… Baja Fresh sits on the corner of 78th Street and Highway 99…the very place where the tornado touched down.

Darren Jacobs

Darren blogs at www.oxfordspires.wordpress.com

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