Long time, no write. Sometime back in January, I decided to spend the bulk of my free time writing songs and working on guitar. Then I decided to shoehorn a sudden trip to Israel into my schedule. And I’d gotten burned out on writing, frankly. When I started this blog back in 2013, I had the intent of giving some back story and then killing time until Something Big happened. Three years later I’m still killing time, to the tune of at least ten hours of work per the most lengthy blog posts. There’s some genuinely interesting stuff to write about, I think. But to tell the story in a way that does it all justice, it takes time and horsepower that I’d rather spend elsewhere.
Regardless, I’m too far into this blogging thing to drop it now. Interesting things do keep happening.
This story is about events that primarily took place in December 2015. I didn’t think they were especially noteworthy, in context of this blog, until a few weeks after the fact. The details are a little hazy from this vantage; but the main points are still intact.
On the night of December 26, a major storm system moved up and across North Texas. The storms moved into the Dallas area at around 6pm, I think. My family was all in my parents’ house, still celebrating Christmas. I began watching the weather radar online, prompted by either the weather outside or news reports on local television. The radar image showed a mixture of green, yellow, and red precipitation fields consistent with a powerful system. By the time I started paying close attention to the map, there was also at least one small area of red and purple visible. That’s the signature often associated with tornadic winds. I zoomed in on an area to include both the purple signature and enough of Dallas to show my parents’ general location. I ran the historical sequence feature to track the path of the cell. To my surprise and interest, the small purple mass appeared to be headed more or less right at my parents’ neighborhood.
I told my folks what I was seeing. Within minutes, we began hearing storm sirens. We discussed the possibility of my parents taking the kids to a secure location. Either before or after they eventually left the house, I took another look at the radar. The storm system had moved enough distance to reveal the purple thing was actually headed not just towards my parents’ neighborhood; it was moving directly at their house. There also appeared to be a slight hook forming in the signature, signaling the formation of a tornado.
There was definitely some wind, rain, and lightning on the scene. I made plans to unplug all electronics from the wall outlets, in the event of a lightning strike. I began recalling a dream I’d had some months before. In the dream I had been standing in my parents’ garage, looking out the open doorway, down the hill, and across the alley. The alley neighbors’ fence and house had sustained massive damage from some force that evidently didn’t include fire. The place was, at best, partially destroyed. I reflected on that dream as I checked the radar one last time. No matter how close I zoomed in on the radar image, the tornado cell was moving right at my position. I got up walked to the front door of the house, facing south.
The sirens were howling non-stop. I recalled one guy I knew who said he’d successfully rebuked a storm, in the name of Jesus, apparently preventing the storm from causing some damage or other. He’d related this story to me three years earlier. Other than to wonder if what he’d said was even true or possible, I’d never given it much thought until that moment. I was looking out at a roiling dark sky through lamp-lit sheets of rain, knowing there was an apparent tornado aimed pretty much right where I was standing. It was a clarifying moment. I figured there was nothing to lose for invoking the name of Christ. I opened the door and stepped out onto the front porch.
The rain was misting in under the porch overhang. I pointed my finger south and west, in the general direction of the storm cell that couldn’t have been more than a few minutes away. “In the name of Jesus, I command you storm to cause no damage to this property.” My skin crawled with some combination of excitement, anticipation, and dread. And I immediately felt a prompting: “Why not command protection over other properties?” I thought about it for a second and had no good answer. I wasn’t sure I had the authority to protect any other property. Which was all cart-before-the-horse; did I really even have authority and ability to successfully do anything at all, in that regard?
I stepped back in the house, closed the door, and locked it. As I turned the key in the deadbolt, I considered the act a mere rote and ridiculous formality in the face of a tornado. I returned to the computer to shut it down and unplug it. As I sat and watched the shutdown sequence on the monitor, I heard the unmistakable sound of a powerful sustained wind appear just outside. But it was a sound unlike one I’d ever heard before. The wind was up higher than the house. I could hear it plainly, blowing non-stop, like a movie sound effect of arctic tundra. But there no actual commotion evident outside the house at ground level. There were no trees rustling or trashcans blowing down or rain drops being driven into windows. It was all up above.
The computer shut down. I unplugged it and then went through the rest of the house and unplugged other electronics. I didn’t want to put the surge protectors to a test unnecessarily. I was waiting for something to happen or not. Nothing happened. After five minutes of listening and wondering, I went back to the entry way and peered out through the blinds at the front yard. There was barely any rain showing in the streetlamp light. I opened the door and stepped outside. There were still sirens sounding. But the weather was positively mild. Which was weird, considering everything that had been happening the previous hour.
I texted my parents. They had driven to a nearby mall that has huge covered parking areas. They had been watching the storm from that safe cover, listening to weather reports on the radio. They reported hearing of damage in the Dallas area, but I didn’t notice where they said it was. I told them things were pretty calm at their place. They returned home within a few minutes. Throughout the rest of the evening, the local news reported of storm damage, especially in Rowlett. That town, north and east of my folks, bore the brunt of a tornado strike.
Life went on and the new year came. I wondered every once in a while if the tornado that hit Rowlett was from the storm that passed my parents’ house. I knew people who lived in Rowlett, and one of my coworker’s homes sustained serious damage in the storm.
About a month later, my kids and I stayed the night with my parents. I had slept on the couch and was waking up to the sounds of people preparing breakfast in the kitchen. My mother came in to the den, and we began talking. I have no recollection of how we got on the subject of the December tornado in Rowlett. But we did. My mother told me that the news reported after the fact that the storm had come from the southwest and passed east of the mall where my parents and kids had sheltered. It was just east of said mall that the storm had inexplicably jumped up briefly to a higher elevation, before descending again and moving on to ravage Rowlett.
I lay there on the couch and considered the facts. My parents’ neighborhood is just east of the mall. There had been a violent storm headed right at their house. I’d commanded that the storm not damage the house. I had heard that weird unmistakable sound of powerful sustained winds appearing above their house, with no corresponding wind activity down at the ground level. And that storm had in fact dropped down again, somewhere between their house and Rowlett. I was immediately excited to think that, yes, maybe we do have the authority do in Jesus’ name things which should not be otherwise possible. (Duh?) But I was just as immediately reminded of that prompting on the front porch: “Why not command protection over other properties?” I couldn’t shake the conviction that, if the name of Jesus had protected my parents’ house and other properties between there and Rowlett, it very likely could have prevented the tornado from doing any damage at all.
It’s possible that Christians have no authority to command that weather do one thing or another in the name of Christ. This particular anecdote doesn’t support that notion. I am now encouraged all the more to be deliberate and of a broader perspective if I’m ever in a similar position again.