I am not sure how many tornadoes I have seen, but I know it has been a lot, and I know all but one of them were in Colorado.
I grew up just south of Denver. Our town was positioned on a high enough hill along the front range that we could see for miles. We got excited every time storms began to develop because we knew it would be a good show.
We would go out on our back deck and just watch the storm clouds roll in. Our eyes were fixed on the sky and the horizon, looking for lightning strikes, wall clouds, and funnel clouds. And, if we were lucky we might even see a tornado.
One storm was especially spectacular, and we sat there counting funnel clouds. That may not sound like fun for those who grew up in tornado alley where the twisters can grow bigger than entire towns, but most Colorado tornadoes are relatively small–but still fascinating. On this occasion we were in luck because the funnels began to descend, flicking close to the ground twenty miles north, skipping off the earth thirty miles west.
As we watched, wispy, short-lived funnels transformed into tornadoes. Some spent less than thirty seconds on the ground, but a few maintained an existence for several minutes or more. I’m not sure how many tornadoes actually touched down that day (I do remember one storm in about 2004 that recorded 21 tornadoes in a span of about an hour in our county alone…we saw one of them). At one point we saw at least three on the ground at the same time, and one not far from my dad’s office in Denver.
At the time I know I didn’t really comprehend the danger or destruction of a tornado. I was more amazed than fearful. It was a spectacle, entertainment. In fact, I’m not sure I really understand that fear even today. I haven’t come close enough to the destruction and chaos to have a healthy respect for tornadoes.
And I feel about the same way when it comes to my relationship with God. I know He is behind the incredible power of a tornado. I know He is capable of flooding the world, destroying cities, and toppling nations. I know because I have heard and read about it, like I know the destruction of a tornado because I have seen it on TV. Neither has become real for me yet.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t come close enough–to a tornado or to God. Perhaps when I truly let God turn my world upside down then I will finally have the respect for and fear of Him that He deserves. Then I will understand what it means that God is a God of justice, discipline, wrath, awesome power, and glorious grace.
But, until then, I am counting on the grace and reveling in the awe. If my God can calm the storm, send the storm, and ride the storm, then He can save a wretch like me.