Oklahoma is not OK. After Monday’s 2 mile wide, 210 mph tornado tore through a suburb of Oklahoma City, a 22 square mile piece of civilization was no more. News reports this morning used the word “dazed” in reference to the way citizens were feeling. After viewing photos, I see why.
Oklahoma is famous for frequent tornadoes, but no one could say they’d ever seen one like this. Even storm chasers, familiar with nature’s fury, were suffering from PTSD when it was over. “People are wandering around like zombies,” reporter Scott Hines said. “It’s like they’re not realizing how to process what just happened.”
Although two schools and a large medical center were beyond repair, thankfully the death toll wasn’t as severe as originally feared. But even for those who came through the storm without injury, recovery will take time. As one parent said, “I’m speechless. How did this happen? Why did this happen? How do we explain this to the kids?”
“Devastating” is too mild a word. Pictures and videos of the event told the miserable tale of destruction, but one photo was different than all the others: a cemetery picture.
Although the grass was littered with debris from the land of the living, the buried-dead remained untouched. But had the tornado ripped them from the ground, it wouldn’t have mattered to them. On May 20, those who’d already died were untouchable, even by a monster-size F5 tornado. They’d already taken up residence elsewhere, and for those in heaven, that day was like any other: safe and sound.
Once we’ve died, whatever is taking place on earth quickly fades. I think of the 24 souls who left the earth during Monday’s tornado and hope they’re all with Jesus Christ. If so, their safety concerns are over. No PTSD for them, no coping with lost homes or possessions. Stressing over where to live while their homes are rebuilt isn’t a problem, and they’re guaranteed never to experience another tornado.
Mom often said, “Know your bottom line.” She was sure of where she’d be after death and frequently said she wished it was “today”. Monday was the “today” for 24 people who were (we hope) lifted from that fearsome storm straight into glory. What a dramatic change! Of course it’ll be dramatic even if we’re taken out of this world on an ordinary day.
But those 24? They’ll be dazed for days, too…. but for a much different (and much better) reason.
“The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)