April 30, 2011

God’s Mercy & Grace In Disasters

Posted in Christianity tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:11 am by Lisa Ritchey

My husband and I went through two tornadoes Wednesday.  In two different states!!!!

The first one was in Red Bank, TN.  When it hit, we were in my parents’ basement.  It started raining.  Suddenly, the rain started to come down so hard that we could barely see out the window.   The wind started blowing so strongly the trees were leaning  almost straight sideways.  I started singing “Thank You For The Blood of Jesus” then started singing, “There’s PROTECTION in the blood of Jesus.” Suddenly I started to supplicate (quote Scripture): “Lord, your word says we shall lie down and sleep in peace and safety, and I know it is true.” Give Thanks: “I thank you Lord, that You are faithful, that what you say you do!” Praise: “HALLELUJAH! THANK YOU JESUS! GLORY TO G-D FOR YOUR GOODNESS, MERCY, AND GRACE!”  Suddenly, one HUGE oak tree just kept leaning and fell.  Suddenly, it was over.

The tree landed about ten feet from the house.  It pulled the power lines loose from the house, but there was NO structural damage!

Even the Baptists in the house were shouting after that one!  We knew there were more storms coming, and worse than this, and we knew where the line of fire was (or so we thought) so we headed home… to Ringgold, GA.  Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire!

I had heard that morning that the storm system was like a doughnut, and we were in the doughnut hole.  We took advantage of this while we could and lit out of there.  Fast.

The first waves of storms must have been when the tornado hit.  I remember sitting on the couch in the livingroom looking out of the window and telling my husband how strange the sky looked.  The weather was not too terribly bad, but it seems like I heard a strange sound.  I now wonder if it was the tornado that I heard in the not too far distance.  We all know about hindsight though.

I knew when the weather was getting bad that we had better do more than just batten down the hatches. We went to the basement.  We still had power so I took the house phone, the cell phone and my laptop, medicines, water, two boxes of cereal, blankets, and stools with us.  I was watching the weather on the computer.  Oh, yeah.  We also took our little three-inch-square, twenty-five-cent-yard-sale-find, has-a-coathanger-for-an-antenna, ANCIENT Radio Shack weather radio.  I just Love that little thing!  We were praying, praising, and pleading the Blood of Jesus on our families, home, property and all of our “stuff”. (When one realizes the true power in that sweet shed blood of Jesus, one truly knows power!)

At one point, my son called and told us that there was a very strong storm cell over us that was dumping not rain, but debris.  This is very dangerous.  He told us to stay put for a while.  We did.

While I was on the phone with our son, it suddenly got extremely quiet: no birds singing, no crickets chirping, nothing.  Have you ever seen the movie Twister ?  At one point they talk about “the cone of silence” right before a tornado hits.  We had one.  My husband wanted to go out, but I told him that was what it was, and he stayed in, and we started praying, rebuking the storm coming over us.  (That is what my husband was led to pray.)

The storm cell stretched from the North East to the Southwest in one continuous line.  Suddenly, a section swung to the East, looking just like a gate swinging open leaving an open gap.  This is what went over us.

The storm system finally passed a little after eleven p.m. and we went back upstairs.  Everything was fine as far as we knew.  We saw no damage, and not watching T. V. we had no idea.

Then, morning came.  I got a phone call, then went on Facebook.  J103 radio had posted a link to MyFoxAtlanta which had ariel video of the damage.

The city of Ringgold is gone. GONE.

The gas station that was oblitereated is the BP where I got my coffee.  I know those people by name.  We were just in there around noon that day talking with them. Then we went to the Food Lion.  At the right end of the food Lion center is (was) a little Chinese restaurant that had the best lo Mein!  We shopped at the Ace hardware and knew the employees there.  So many other places in Ringgold that we knew so well… gone.  Gone!

Ingles’ grocery store was untouched, but is without power, so it is not open, and the city of Ringgold is cordoned off, so noone can get in or out, anyway.  Food Lion is gone.  I don’t know if Shop-Rite is still there or not.  There are NO restaurants left.  None!  Not Mickey D’s, Krystal, Hardee’s. Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Ant Effies.  I do not know if Sonic is still standing, but is cordoned off, too.  The same is true with Spencer’s Barbecue (Spencer B’s).  The absolute best burger in the whole world.  And talk about a killer potatoe!

We are slowly assimilating this, but it certainly is not easy.  I have never been through anything like this before.  One moment I am fine.  The next, I am weeping.  I am literally sick to my stomach.  This is so difficult to process, spiritually and emotionally.

I keep seeing the finger of God in the tornado.  I am not sure why yet. Protection? I keep hearing in my spirit “These things must happen”.  I know they must before Jesus returns, but when they are this close to home… And I mean close to home in more ways than one.  Ringgold is just eight miles away.

This has been, and is, so very difficult to deal with.  I know so many that lost all.  But they are alive, thank you, LORD! Here I go crying again!

I feel so guilty doing “normal” things when so many have been left with nothing.  Some not even their lives.

How does one “adjust” to this?  What is the right thing to feel?  My emotions are like a yo-yo.  I have perfect peace one minute and then the next, I start weeping.

We started to go to the store yesterday and remembered… there isn’t one.  We wound up going to the Dollar General store, wandering around and leaving.  It is not just those that suffered actual physical loss that are affected by this, I see.  There are sooooooooo many more than that!  Please pray for us all.

God’s mercy for Ringgold is that there were only 8 killed and 125 injured.  That trully is a miracle when you see the carnage.  His mercy for my family is that we were spared and did not suffer any damage, as close as we are to the devistation.

His grace is the strength to get through this. He showed me His grace the morning after when I flipped my verse-a-day calendar.  The Scripture for Thursday, the day after the tornadoes, was this:

“There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psa 91:10-11)  When I read this, I broke.  I was done in.  He loves me so much, and the fact of it really hit me.

Why the eight were not spared here, I don’t know.  Why so many lost so much, I don’t know.  I do know that this is not the first that He has spared my life in a dramatic way. I have stood on Psalms 91 for years, and He has always come through for me, just like the Bible says He will.  And I am so grateful.

My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by these disasters.  May we all lean on Him just a little more now.

You can see video of the destruction here  http://www.newschannel9.com/news/areas-1000684-video-watch.html

UPDATE:  My son just came in and saw where a tornado touched down about a mile and a half from us.  My gratitude and amazement just keep growing.  God is good and His mercy does endure forever and His Word is true.  You can take that one to the bank!…?


©Copyright 2011 Lisa Ritchey


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