On Saturday aternoon, my son and I joined a rather large crowd of local folks assisting a family with post-tornado cleanup. I wasn't sure really if we would be in the way of so many other people who had gifts to offer such as carpentery, driving heavy machinery, or operating chainsaws, but I knew we could or at least should do something instead of just driving around and looking at the devastation.
One immediate need that stood out by observation was paper clean up. Water stained and wind blown documents, papers, photos, monopoly money, and recipes riddled the brush line at the edge of the road, and made a distant path deep into the woods and trees. In what appeared from a distance to be a confetti strewn field was an area adjacent to someone's property full of storm damaged personal documents. Many people had canvassed the area earlier retrieving a lot of valued possessions. As we were collecting our items, we stepped over couches, door frames, shattered 2x4s, chewed up pine trees, and eventually into a soggy, muddened bottom full of framework to what was once someone's home.
Despite gathering many trashbags to help remove the unwanted debris, my son and I found only one personal, hand written, time worn recipe. We turned it in to some of the family hoping that it was some salvageable keepsake. My son didn't realize the significance of his father walking near him, watching and reading each confused look that appeared on his face as he grabbed another item from the saturated lawn. I listened to him say over and over again, "This is bad...This is bad." I had to guide and redirect him several times as it may have been somewhat overwhelming for a young boy - add to that his curious nature and inquisitive personality.
I reeled him in after awhile and we talked. We looked at the hillsides, the yards, the homes, the barns, the tree lines and we talked. We talked about gratitude. We talked about possesions. We talked about family and neighbors. We talked life and God. As a father, I wanted my son not to hear a life lesson, but to experience one...one that he will never forget.
This morning, at one of our breakfast groups, Friday's tornadoes was once again the discussion. Middle school students are at the age that they begin to wrestle with the God stuff. More than seeing a tornado, they ask why did God allow the tornado? Why were some people protected and others died? Could God have stopped the storms? Was He punishing us for things we have done wrong...sin? Alot of their questions come from their conversations with peers, but also with what they have seen and heard on TV. Many of the survivors, in their TV interviews, put God into the equation somewhere.
In our group today, we discussed John 9 and Luke 13:4. Instead addressing all of the various scenarios and maybes...we looked into scripture for what we do know. In John 9, many held onto the school of thought that either the man or his parents did something sinful and God was punishing them by giving the man blindness. Yet Jesus tuaght his disciples that the man suffered blindness so that the works of God might be displayed in his life. In Luke 13, Jesus explains that there was no distinguishing factor for why 18 people died when the tower collapsed. It wasn't because some were better people or worse people...Jesus said the bottom line was for people to pay attention and make sure our relationship is right with God. Scripture often repeats the idea that through any trial or circumstance, regardless of the trial or circumstance, we are to grow towards God and grow in our faith.
At home this week,I would encourage you to look up these passages and discuss them with your teen; maybe sit down and watch the news together, read an internet story such as this one featuring mom, Stephanie Decker and see where their thoughts are:
For more resources on this topic, please know that I have a few books available.
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