I still don’t know if it was sharp rain on tiny shards of glass which pricked my skin as we stood in the wreckage of the tornado.
Now we referred to the place where our family home once stood as “the address”. It was as close as we could come to the truth, for it certainly was no longer home. In fact, nothing of home was left at the address except the hearth where the fireplace used to be. My uncles had come to help my now orphaned brother and me navigate this new challenge. The first step, dig though the debris and climb over the shattered tree limbs where just yesterday, they removed the bodies of my parents, Lee and Jacque Cook.
“Let’s pray.” I said, before we begin our hunt. We held hands and bowed our heads but none of those former quarterback now CEO men could speak. This is was having your heart in your throat is. This is broken. I asked the Lord to give me strength and I spoke. “Father, we love you. God, we need you. Give us strength. Guide us. Protect us, Lord. Help us.” And we all said “Amen.” And we were off. My uncles took to removing large debris where the staircase once stood. My brother dealt with the media, which was circling and wanting to know how-wait for it, wait for it- how we were feeling and planning to do. If I seem sarcastic, please give me room for grace. The Lord is working on that in me. At the time of the tornado, I worked in news radio after being on the other side of such obvious questions, I changed professions. I couldn’t talk to them and so my brother did. This is what he said, “God is merciful. He took them together.”
I kept praying and heard this “though I walk through the valley of darkness and the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” At that time, I didn’t know my Bible very well. In truth, I barely knew it at all, but knew that was in there. I began to walk. Light caught my eye, a reflection bouncing off the ball from the top of my father’s walking stick. I grabbed it and held it to my heart. “Oh Daddy,” I said as I began to moan. “I will help you walk,” I heard him say, “I will show you where to go.” And just then I remembered that Dad’s cane was also a compass.
He did help me walk and show me where to go and that day my family was able to recover anything precious we could have hoped for. We found family photos and my mom’s cook books with her handwritten notes. I found whole pieces of my great-grandma’s good china and I felt my mother press on my heart this wisdom:
I will keep them alive my cooking their foods and telling their story. I will keep them alive my setting the table and teaching my children to do the same.
That day I witnessed Biblical truth in action.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
I know in my bones that these words are true for He has drawn near to me.
James tell us
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2
The Christian life isn’t the easiest, but I dare you to find any life that IS easy. It isn’t. It IS beautiful, broken and beautiful.
That day, more than my home and parents were lost. I was lost, and year later, found, but He was with me.
He is with me. He is with us, and even more, he is FOR us and if God Almighty is for us, who can be against?
Perhaps at your church you sing the same song we do.
“You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, “Lord blessed be your name.”
It’s a choice.