April 19, 1995. I remember the date clearly because it was the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. I was working as a legal assistant in Dallas for a small law firm. They asked me to drive to Tyler, Texas, to pick up the record on appeal for a case on which we were working.
There was supposed to be bad weather, so one attorney suggested I not go. The others didn’t think it would be bad, so I went ahead. As I entered the highway, my car slid out of control because of the wet ground. Thankfully, I didn’t hit anything, but it made me a little nervous about the travel ahead. The radio was, of course, on, and a song by Twila Paris was playing, “God is in Control.” “God is in control, we believe that His people will not be forsaken, God is in control, we will choose to remember and never be shaken, there is no power above or beside Him, we know, God is in control.”
The song gave me comfort, and I chose to believe that He was in control of my travel that day. I went on, and as I did, it turned into the most beautiful and sunny day! Well, this wasn’t bad at all, I thought. But as I drove, after I would pass a town, a short time later, the radio announcer would say, “The tornado is now in X.” And X was whatever town I had just passed. But I wasn’t worried because it was so sunny and pretty now. Surely those towns were pretty big, and so the likelihood I would encounter anything on the way back seemed remote to me, I reasoned.
I ran into the Court of Appeals and got the record. As I started to head back to Dallas, I thought again about the storm, but went ahead. As I drove, it didn’t really occur to me that there were no other cars on the road; the highway was empty. But they obviously had heeded the warnings. I have never before encountered what I did that day. It literally went from blue and sunny to black, heavy rain, hail, and a total inability to see—literally in an instant. There was no transition from light to heavy rain—it just went from light to dark, and I had zero visibility for the darkness, the torrential rain, and the softball size hail hitting the car!
I didn’t know what to do. The last thing I had seen was that there was an exit ramp just shortly ahead, but I couldn’t even see to drive. I inched along. Suddenly all the glass started breaking on the car, the back window blew in, I was covered in glass, rain and hail, and the car was flooding. I did the only thing I knew to do. I was screaming to God to help me. All I know is that my panic turned to peace as soon as I heard a song coming in from the radio. Yes, once again, Twila Paris, “God is in Control.” “God is in control, we believe that His people will not be forsaken. God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken. There is no power above or beside Him, we know. God is in control.”
I clung to those words. There is no power above Him. He was right there with me. I remember the rain moving on enough that I could see to exit, and oddly, I still remember driving my car in a complete circle, so shaken, so unsure where to turn, which direction, that I literally held the wheel and kept going around in a circle. I finally saw a driveway and entered. It was a local country club. I went inside, and they were shocked that I had been caught out in that storm. They all testified, “We’ve never seen anything like it. We can’t believe you were caught in it!”
They then said, “You need to get under the pool table with the others because it’s not over. The tornado hasn’t passed yet.” I decided not to do so as I couldn’t expect anymore could possibly happen. The men, who earlier had been out golfing, stood by the back windows and watched the tornado pass.
A nice lady followed me back to Dallas in my demolished car. It took several years for me not to shake all over when a storm would come up. I remember getting back to Dallas and hearing about the Oklahoma City bombing that day. I trust God was near to those and revealing Himself to them in their time of need, accomplishing His purposes in the midst of great tragedy.
I was reminded of my “hailstorm” story tonight because we’ve had a hard night. And I needed to remember God’s power. This story came to mind, and I shared it with my children. In our deepest need, He is enough. The truth of who God is and His gospel message goes deeper than we can begin to imagine, said our new pastor this past Sunday on his first Sunday. “An atheist is in all of us,” he surmised. We don’t believe all that God is and can do.
This is the God who gave comfort to Corrie Ten Boom in her years in a Nazi concentration camp, who spoke closely to her, spared her life, and used her to tell His gospel message to the world. I’m so enjoying her book Tramp for the Lord right now. He was with her in the midst of great suffering. He is real and He is truly all we need. I pray we’ll know Him and His power, His mighty power to save, His mighty power to deliver at the very deepest core of our being.
Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”