In the days following the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, I spent hours driving back and forth searching for God to reveal Himself to me in the midst of the aftermath. He showed me many things, not really about the storm, but about life during those long drives.
The first was about the destruction that lay before me, and at times all around me.
The morning following the storm, as I drove into Joplin I was rerouted and missed the true picture of the destruction. So many times in life that is what happens as we step into sin. We reroute off the narrow path into the broad road. We don’t see how the sin is impacting us, and so we see no reason to stop.
The second day, as I left I drove directly into the destruction. It was overwhelming to say the least. I so wanted to get out of it, but I didn’t know how to because I couldn’t see my way out. There were no road signs and no structures to guide me to where I needed to be, so I had to go through the destruction that the tornado had cause. I realize so many times we get into a life of sin and lose our way. Then we realize that it is overwhelming and we don’t want to be in it. Unfortunately, we often have to work our way through the destruction to come out on the other side.
When I went back on the fourth day, I was able to go more of my regular route. I made it into Joplin before I saw any signs of the destruction, and even those were deceiving to the real damage. I saw a road sign, and two billboards destroyed. I thought about how sometimes, people will see that we are headed into destruction and they can see what is going to happen, they see the signs and try to warn us about the destruction we are headed for, but we ignore it and continue on.
A few weeks after the tornado, I went and helped a coworker whose home was destroyed, but there were some things in the home salvageable. The coworker had written everything off, but was willing with some convincing to let us come help with “clean up.” I thought about how many times, even as Christian’s we write off people as destroyed when they are in the midst of personal sin and destruction. I thank God that He doesn’t write us off, but instead convinces others to come along side us and show us the truth of our worth and value. I thought how many lives could be salvaged for Christ if Christians would just be willing to roll up their sleeves, offer hope to the hopeless and be willing to help people clean up their lives.
As I see the destruction today, my heart still sinks at times. It can be so overwhelming, as the television and pictures are nothing to the reality of what is there. However, I am also filled with hope for the future. I know that we, that the Joplin, community will rise from the destruction.