It looked like a warzone

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2017

This morning, I thought of a verse of Scripture in the Gospel of John. The verse is John 3:8. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”

I understand that Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about the mystery of the Holy Spirit and not about wind, literally. But, I thought about wind, literally, as I thought of that verse and pondered the storms and tornadoes that have been a part of this January.

We have the science of meteorology and maps that do give some indication as to the direction of the wind. We can know from where it comes, but we still can’t direct it along our desired path, nor can we regulate its twisting and turning or its speed. The fear of the weather is not the beginning of wisdom; that is reserved for God. At the same time, some aspects of Mother Nature demand respect.

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I was paying attention Sunday afternoon as WALB-TV reported on the weather. I am probably not as careful to obey their instructions as I should and I encourage all of us to be respectful of the power of storms. Have you made your plans ahead of time for what you might do in tornadic or serious, stormy weather?

It was back in 2000 that I truly experienced the aftermath of tornadoes. Remember the Valentine’s Day tornadoes of that year? Mitchell County, the county in which I lived at the time, was hit really hard. In all, 18 people were killed and the majority of those were in the county seat of Camilla.

I was one of many chaplains for the Mitchell County Hospital and was called at 3:00 AM to come to the hospital because of the storms. Even though I had never been called at that time for that sort of purpose, I was ready to go in a moment.

The ride to Camilla was about twenty minutes and I was thinking as I drove, how bad can a tornado be. I had seen one while at the University of Georgia, but I was young and not affected, so my perspective was an immature one.

It was night as I approached Camilla and there was some tree debris on Highway 19, but it was only after I arrived at the hospital that my opinion of tornadoes matured bigtime!

You’ve heard it said, “It looked like a war zone.” Thankfully, I don’t know what a war zone looks like, but the hospital was full of people, even in the hallways, and their facial expressions were blank or dazed.

Ron Gilliard, who lives here in Bainbridge, was the hospital administrator and his staff was consumed with helping all these people. They did a great job that night and I simply lent a helping hand wherever I could.

About 8:30 the scene at the hospital was slowing down and under control, so I wanted to see the street where the tornado had hit so directly. I did not know what to expect and was not ready for the scene I saw.

It was unbelievable, except that I was looking at it. Not a house was standing. I think that is the way Holly Drive in Albany is being described. As I drove down the street and out to the rural areas where the tornado had touched down, I couldn’t help but think of those who had perished.

I know all of you will join me in praying for, and helping in whatever way you can, all those who are suffering.