The debt we owe tornadoes

Please bear with me, I know the title above seems odd.  It came to mind yesterday driving back from Cleveland.  Give me a chance to explain (however poorly I will likely do so).

As I was beginning my drive back from Cleveland and Akron, ahead of me and above was an incredible storm cloud.  It was, at least for me, truly amazing — intimidating, really. Words will fail me if I try to describe it in detail, so I’ll simply say that it struck me as an amazing picture of power and force on an incredible scale. Below the cloud in the space between it and the quickly approaching horizon you could see what was surely vast amounts of water pouring onto various portions of northern Ohio.  It wasn’t long before I drove immediately under one particular “arm” of the cloud — a projection that, while not nearly as large as the whole, seemed truly massive.  That projection was not dropping any rain, itself (I would run into plenty of that later), but simply driving under it added to the over all impression of the moment: that I was in the presence of something much larger and more powerful than I am.

I drove through a lot of on-and-off rain after that between there and Cincinnati, and some of the scenes in the skies were of the sort that make me wish my mind had better image storage software for vivid pixel-by-pixel recall in the future.  Absolutely amazing.  I thought to myself that if I were a really good photographer (as my personal attempts to capture such scenery have always been rather poor), I might assemble the many images I saw yesterday into a collection I could title “The Kingdom Above” or “Kingdom of the Sky.”  Corny, I know — I am a rather corny individual, anyway, so I’m allowed — but it really did seem in those looking at those huge vistas above me while driving on I-71 that I was viewing a vast realm of some sort.  The clouds seemed to display so much character and personality and the colors, close as it was to sunset, were so dynamic, it was almost as if you were getting a glimpse of a much larger world, to which your access is so frustratingly limited by both space and scale: space because it is so far away and untouchable from here on the ground, and scale because it is so vast that I would be too minuscule, too tiny a speck to appreciate its majesty up close.

It was then that I thought of the title of today’s post. Tornadoes are fearsome, uncontrolable products of our planet, and monsters that have struck recently here in the U.S. have reminded us that nature refuses to be ignored by those who wish to live on planet earth. Ever since man ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he has essentially said, “We don’t need you, God — we’ve got it. Thanks, but no thanks.” Actually, as Mr. Hagmaier and I drove between Cleveland and Akron yesterday, we discussed those who seem to worship “Science” and mankind’s ability to accumulate knowledge, believing faithfully in man’s own ability to solve all of his own problems and master the world on his own terms.

But tornadoes such as we experienced this week in Joplin, Missouri tend to remind us of the truth that we are part of a world that in many ways is greater than us — that we are often the victim of the world we imagine that we’ve mastered.  And they remind us of our need for God and the mistake Adam and Eve made in choosing as they did, a choice that we’ve each made in our own ways (Romans 3:23).  We chose to run the world our way without His help, and He said “Fine” and has given us the chance to learn what a stupid choice that was. “You want to run the world without me? OK, have at it. Let’s check in a few thousand years later and see how that’s working out…”

But, too, tornadoes — like the storm clouds I gawked at during my four hour drive — remind us of the fact that we are so very small, and we are surrounded by a universe that is so much bigger and more powerful than us. Our purpose is great, to be sure, but why?  It is great because it’s Creator is great.  He who so purposed us is great.  And apart from that purpose, we are small.  Insignificant.  Surrounded by a world that is so awesome in its power, so unstoppable in its force, and so incomprehensibly vast in its scale, and — unleashed by man’s rejection of God and left to roam as a wild animal without a master — so utterly and devastatingly destructive, we are reminded just how much more power and majesty and grandeur and wonder must belong to the One who created such a world as this.  We are reminded of not just how small we are, but how great He truly must be.  And with all of this “reminding,” we are reminded further by His word that all we see and experience and gasp at in wonder and open-mouthed awe, all of these things “are the mere edges of His ways, And how small a whisper we hear of Him…” (Job 26:14).

I don’t like them.  I pray for their victims.  I look forward to the world to come in which the damage they cause becomes less than a memory.  But in this world, now, this is the debt I owe tornadoes.

14 thoughts on “The debt we owe tornadoes

  1. With the way things have gone the last couple months I have wondered if bombs are even necessary to lay the cities waste in the time of Jacob’s trouble…. Absolutely incredible, terrifying storms.

    Last month a tornado went through Cullman, AL, and was reported to damage every church building within the city, completely destroying many. I was studying Jer 23, and Ezek 34 at the time, and a verse seemed to stand out in light of the news report on Cullman, AL.

    Jer 23:19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.

    In the context of the rest of the chapter, and the news report, it was a striking verse to say the least. There was no talk of repentance, or of even thinking there may be a possibility of God’s chastening upon a rebellious nation as the cause. One preacher simply boasted on how tough and resilient the inhabitants of the city are, and how fast they would rebuild…..

    The times they are a changin’…

    Happy Sabbath, Mr. Smith.

  2. You are sooooo right, Mr. Smith. It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes and I’m pretty sure there aren’t too many in storm shelters when a F5 tornado (sometimes nicknamed “the Finger of God”) comes along.

  3. @Deano: Thanks, and you, too! I know what you mean. Isaiah 9:8-10 comes to mind whenever I hear prideful “We will rebuild!” talk without the humility that should accompany it.

    @Rakkav: I agree. It’s amazing how having any and all control taken from us can cause us to quickly reevaluate how much control we had in the first place.

  4. @Deano: People both East and West castigated… sorry, was it the Emperor or the Prime Minister of Japan?… for suggesting that the recent tsunami was punishment from Heaven for the greed of the Japanese. He may have a point, though; sin is a reproach to any people, and no nation (even Israelite, libertarian Sweden) rates higher on the secular/rational values scale than Japan.

    In that case I thought of something in Ezekiel for the very end of days, when God and Magog are punished for their invasion of the Land of Israel and God sends fire “on those who dwell carelessly in the isles”. Could this be Japan? For the sake of the Japanese I hope not, but given what comes out of their culture these days I suspect they will fulfill at least part of this prophecy one day. A country that can (for example) take Godzilla on the one hand and what goes on in anime and manga on the other without batting an eye needs a major reality check and even the earthquake and tsumani and reactor crises haven’t done that yet.

  5. Norbert

    My first impression of the title made me wonder, how is Wallace Smith going to take this lemon and squeeze out some lemonade? 🙂

    When it comes to devastating weather, I think a fair number of people would percieve such a thing as more a punishment made by mankind’s industrialized standard of living rather than a punishment from God.

    I believe there’s a lot of truth to what you wrote:

    We chose to run the world our way without His help, and He said “Fine” and has given us the chance to learn what a stupid choice that was. “You want to run the world without me? OK, have at it. Let’s check in a few thousand years later and see how that’s working out…”

    Most people totally agree when it comes to predicting the weather, it is not an exact science. From what I understand, when it comes to predicting who’s behind controlling the weather is similiar.


    And he said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” (Matt 8:26)


    And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD… And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young men, and they are dead; …” (Job 1:12,19)


    And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Gen 2:15) “… for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal 6:7)

    You know Peter took his current events of his time to preach the gospel to a small portion of the world’s population making the point “saying, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” (Acts 2:40) I believe the same point can be made nowadays with our current events by someone much greater.

    Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4)

  6. texasborn

    Mr. Smith, although this comment of mine is “a bit off topic,” when I read where you typed, “The clouds seemed to display so much character and personality and the colors, close as it was to sunset, were so dynamic” it immediately reminded me of a song poem my mother wrote to which I set music. The words are:

    Verse 1:
    Did you see the sunset? It was made for you!
    Beauty in the colorings spread across the hue!
    Did you gaze with wonder, and delight and awe
    As upon the wide sky you watched the Lord God draw?

    First release:
    Oh, then and did you thank your God,
    Yes, down upon your knees:
    That of all His glory,
    He had shown you these?

    Verse 2:
    Did you hear the birds sing as the day did break?
    Happy in the melody–just to be awake!
    Did you hear their singing echo in your heart?
    God, in His creation, had made of you a part!

    Second release:
    Oh, then and did you bow your head
    And pray for Him to take
    The hours of your living
    And use them for His sake?

    Half-verse 1 repeat:
    Did you see the sunset? It was made for you!
    Beauty in the colorings spread across the hue!

    Did you? Did you? Did you?

    (I play the the last “you” on a minor 6th chord, which is an unresolved one, so as to leave the melodic lyric hanging and unanswered.)

  7. @Mr. Smith: Yes! That is the EXACT attitude this particular “shepherd” had. I tell ya, I was afraid for him when I saw him speak!

    @Rakkav: Godzilla, the king over all the children of pride?

  8. texasborn

    I heard on the radio yesterday evening a story of a mother whose day had not gone well: one of her sons threw her expensive cell phone into the fish tank, completely ruining it! Other child events of the day added to her unhappiness. To cope with her misery, she later went out to the backyard patio to reflect on her mood. It was at the beginning of the twilight period of the day. A few moments later–one by one–her children came out there to stand by her. No words were spoken, as each watched the beginning of the sunset start to create colors in the sky. As the sunset went into its final colors of darkening purple, the boy that had done the “dastardly deed” suddenly threw out his arms widely and spontaneously shouted, “God, that was beautiful!” All at once the mother’s attitude turned from sadness to great happiness–the prior feelings instantly dissolved from her heart, as if they never existed! I imagine she turned to her happy son, and hugged him with tears of joy in her eyes!

  9. Steven

    In my humble opinion, there are two possible reasons that these natural disasters happened (and are happening):

    1) God’s judgment on our sins; and/or

    2) God allowing man to influence the weather thus, contributing to fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24. I am of course, talking about HAARP.

    [Edit: Program removed, see comments below. WGS]

    ^ Outstanding program that will open your eyes to what the government is capable of. Can you trust the government? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding NO, especially after watching this program!

    God Bless.

    [Howdy, Steven, and thanks for your comments. I hope you don’t mind the edit, but I removed the YouTube video for a variety of reasons: (1) Those who posted it on YouTube do not own the rights (for those who’d like to see it, it is the first episode of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura from the History Channel); and (2) those who posted it on YouTube have ungodly “conspiracy” issues, which I do not wish to support in any way. HAARP has been a conspiracy theory boogie-man for years and years and is blamed for so many things that it’s ridiculous. I haven’t heard it blamed for the death of Michael Jackson, yet, but I am sure that it is just matter of time. 🙂 I’m not saying that the government is trustworthy — the American government is no more trustworthy from a godly perspective than the American people (me, included, and, of course, you, too). Psalm 146:6 makes it clear: “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.” However, I do obey God when He says, “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled” (Isaiah 8:12). Those who not only know the truth but act on it have no cause to be concerned, and they have God’s help in discerning between man’s conspiracies (true and false) and what really counts and deserves our time time and attention. Others, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can worry about HAARP. 🙂 That said, I’m not against speculating that man’s activities may contribute to the problems prophesied at the end of the age, and I agree with you, Steven, about the possibility. It’s just going to take a lot more than conspiracy theorists, the false religion they’ve created, and History Channel faux-documentaries — which are just as believable as their UFO, Bigfoot, and 2012 productions and are produced as entertainment not education — to sell me on the details. Thanks, again!]

  10. As long as we’re throwing post hoc ergo propter hoc around so freely in our society, how about this one?

    Friday, May 27, 2011
    Maybe doomsday is near
    Exclusive: Joseph Farah points to disasters that occur after U.S. messes with Israel

    This one should be worth your interest and comments because it relates to God’s promises to Israel. In addition, what happens if one part of Israel messes with another part of Israel – a factor Mr. Farah and the book he cites doesn’t take into account?

  11. Steven

    First, I have a dear friend of mine who is a Master Physicist, and he has watched the (Governor) Jesse Ventura’s program on HAARP. He admitted to me that this technology is indeed not only possible, but actively being used. Therefore, I have no choice but to believe everything in that documentary. If you haven’t seen it, look on youtube under HAARP Jesse Ventura Conspiracy Theory and educate yourself.

    The facts speak for themselves. As Mr. Ventura said “There were double security gates there, not one, but two – and it’s out in the middle of nowhere Alaska! It’s an unclassified research facility with that type of security?!” Moreover, he added “….and this is strictly a research facility?…Clearly, there’s something going on here that they don’t want people to know about. Come on man, I’m a Navy Seal…The military don’t do things unless it has a military purpose and a military purpose is destruction and waging war”.

    Now, let’s connect the dots shall we? If you watch Governor Ventura’s show about the 2012 conspiracy, you will notice what the secret powerful evil Masons are planning. Just look at Denver airport. It’s even out in the open….there for everyone to see. Furthermore, look at his show covering the “Secret Societies” i.e. The Bilderbergs. How do you explain the “Georgia Guidestones”? How about the specific inscription “maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”

    Bottom line: There is a very real satan in charge on this world who influences evil groups of people who run our economies etc. etc. If you are foolish and naive enough to think that (for example) “the free market” determines how much you will pay for a gallon of gas, then you are deluding yourself! Commodities, cost of living, interest rates etc. etc. etc. are determined in advance by these evil group of people. I could write a book on the subject, but many already have, so I will leave it up to them. The point is, Jesus prophesied all this 2,000 years ago. Nothing will change until He comes back to destroy all evil and setup His kingdom on this Earth.

    I will leave you with even MORE evidence. I am going to pull a “Babe Ruth” for you. Remember the story about the time Babe Ruth called/pointed to where he was going to hit a home run? The next pitch, POW….not only did he hit a home run, but he hit the ball to EXACTLY where he pointed! Here is my “Babe Ruth” proof for you (to validate what I am saying). I can’t reveal my source, but he is a Christian man who has contact with these evil power brokers (due to his job). He has heard what these men talk about in their secret board meetings. He (and thus, I) am telling you 1.5 years in ADVANCE that the price of a barrel of oil will be between $150-$200 a barrel by the end of 2012. It will be closer to $200. You can take that to the bank! Check back with me in November/December of next year and we will see who is right.

    One of my goals (as a Christian) is to open peoples’ eyes to satan’s evil deceptions. I have presented the facts for you in the hope that you will have a better understanding of the world we live in.

    God bless!

  12. [Warning to the reader: The following is a very long comment. I don’t plan on ever having to address this subject again, so I am allowing myself to cut loose here, a bit. My apologies for writing so much, but, to paraphrase Blaise Pascal, “I made this comment longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.”]

    Greetings, again, Steven. Your comment is full of so many falsehoods (innocently expressed, I am sure) that I was tempted to delete it, but I think that it will be more instructive to go ahead and post it for educational purposes. After dismantling it here, please understand that I will allow no further such comments on this post. And please don’t take my comments personally – it’s just that I have seen too many Christians whose relationship with God has been damaged by the seductive call of conspiracy addicts to allow myself to speak in a dispassionate tone. My apologies if I cause offense, below, in what I have to say.

    To repeat here what I told you “offline,” there is nothing offensive about such HAARP speculations, in and of themselves. What I find offensive is how Satan uses such conspiracy theories to divert people’s attention to the tasks God would truly have them focus on. I gave you direct evidence of God’s mind on this (e.g., Isa. 8:12), to which you have not responded biblically. Consequently, I recommend you spend more time with God and His Word and less with the entertainer Mr. Ventura, the deceptive radio personality Mr. Alex Jones, and others of their ilk. Clearly, you are lacking in the former and are putting too much faith in the latter.

    On to your statements… You mention a nameless “Master Physicist” friend. What does that even mean? Stephen Hawking, perhaps? Michael Faraday? Isaac Newton? And you also failed to mention exactly what concepts from the show he agreed with. Does he agree that HAARP is being used to generate massive earthquakes? or powerfully alter entire weather systems over nations like a weapon? or control people’s minds? I hardly think so. If so, I’d like to see some of his publications on the subject. If he has none, then that’s all the evidence we’d need of his “credibility.”

    You (and Mr. Ventura) act like the military’s involvement with HAARP is somehow surprising. Yet, not only is the military’s involvement readily and publicly acknowledged, the publicly admitted subjects under study there, alone, are clearly of absolutely vast importance militarily. This should be obvious to anyone actually reading all of the publicly related information on HAARP. So, the military is greatly interested in advanced research that may powerfully impact the military. What a surprise!

    (By the way, you may wish to travel to HAARP to attend one of their annual open houses. It might be educational.)

    “Connect the dots”? That’s the problem: they can be connected in multiple ways if we’re willing to conveniently ignore the numbers next to each dot.

    I mean, really, Steven: Are you getting your “facts” and “conclusions” from a television program designed to appeal to a target audience, edited specifically to present one viewpoint, and crafted purely for entertainment purposes? Believing the conclusions of those shows is like believing all the equally “credible” shows they give us about Nostradamus, et al., ad nauseum. Those shows are designed for profit, not for education. You speak of being manipulated by “master puppeteers,” while you allow yourself to be manipulated by the most obvious of puppeteers: television entertainment programmers looking to make a buck with something salacious. If they successfully make a person feel that they have just seen a vast conspiracy uncovered and that, as a viewer, they now have secret knowledge that few possess, they’ve got that person hooked. Talk about manipulation – you provide a fantastic example. The company that created the series describes it as an “entertainment program that appears on an entertainment network.” If you’re really using that television program as powerful “evidence” for your conclusions, you do more damage to your credibility than I ever could.

    Really, there is too much to go into all at once, but I do encourage folks to look into Denver Airport, the Georgia Guidestones, etc. If they do, and if they look rationally as opposed to looking for evidence to convince them of things they already believe, they’ll see that no one’s connecting these dots—they’re drawing their own.

    And by the way, I don’t know anyone who believes that the free market, alone, governs gas prices, oil prices, etc., though perhaps some do. Many attempt to actively manage these things (is this new information to anyone?), doing their best to hedge market forces in the directions they think best and most personally profitable. But the idea that they are all completely, 100% determined by a secret group of “evil people” under Satan’s influence? That’s just goofy. (It’s one thing to say, “Jesus prophesied all this,” by the way—it’s another thing to provide the Scriptural backing to those words.) All the “evidence” that these things are as vast, as powerful, and as complete in their reach as conspiracy addicts claim amounts to no real evidence at all—roughly equivalent in “credibility” as the “evidence” that we are actively communicating with aliens, have been doing so since at least the Eisenhower administration, and are aiding them in their research on human beings utilizing secret multi-national bases on the dark side of the moon where we work with the aliens in close cooperation. (Yes, believe it or not, I have read up on these things (Majestic 12, etc.), and I have yet to see any major conspiracy theory rise to a more credible state than the alien stuff. Those who wish to convince me that entertainment shows like Mr. Ventura’s are serious “research” need to explain to me why they don’t believe in human/alien moonbases, as well.) In fact, I have seen equally “credible” evidence that the NIV Bible translation was influenced by a satanic witchcraft cabal – a theory I have also disproven, even though I am not a fan of the NIV. I want to base my beliefs on credible evidence, not arguments that only sound good on the surface but which ultimately fall apart under deeper, sustained examination. Steven, I know you are a fan of the NIV, but, believe me, if you believe all of this “secret society” stuff, then you should also believe the NIV goofiness, as well, which I would figure you do not. Don’t just follow your biases—follow the truth.

    I know I am writing a great deal. I do so because (1) I don’t plan on allowing such deceptive silliness on my blog again in the future and want to use this chance to solidly put such ideas in their proper place in relation to the truth and priorities of God, and (2) the Bilderbergs and the Masons are controlling me with HAARP and making me type this much because I forgot to wear my tin foil hat. (For the record: I’m being sarcastic on point number 2.)

    I do appreciate your making a prediction, Steven, as it does put some skin in the game, so to speak. But are you serious? If oil is not at $150-$200 a barrel at the end of 2012, will you fully abandon every conspiracy to which you currently hold? I mean, you did say that we can “take that to the bank,” so do you mean it? Don’t get me wrong: it would be better if it were a prediction that were hard to explain without conspiracy theories, since people have been speculating about $150-$200 oil for years, even without assuming secret cabals of men in secret meetings with their secret plans for world domination. Many very normal scenarios have been discussed which could cause oil to skyrocket, from supply and demand issues, geopolitical volatility, dollar crashes, feverish speculation, etc.

    And what a broad range! $150-$200? Really? That’s like saying, “I bet this basketball team will earn 75-125 points!” And “by the end of 2012″? Really? Your giving yourself a full year-and-a-half period for this to happen? Again, that’s like saying, “…and, the basketball team will do this sometime this season.” Really, not much of a prediction, especially if these groups actually control things to the extent that conspiracy addicts claim. Consequently, if oil actually achieved those levels (a very broad range of values and times and possible for many, many, many non-conspiracy reasons), it really wouldn’t prove anything. BUT (and here’s the important part), if oil is NOT in that range in the time period you give, it would disprove something. So, are you really willing to stick by the prediction? After all, you’re risking an awful lot and putting all your claims on the line – nothing to gain and everything to lose. Still, if you will stick with it and agree to abandon your focus on time-wasting conspiracies if the prediction fails, then you will have earned my respect in that regard.

    Finally, Steven, even if all your conspiracy ideas were true, “open[ing] people’s eyes” to those deceptions would do absolutely zero for bring those people closer to God. Even if he believes all he is peddling (not a given, by the way), is Jesse Ventura any closer to God for it—any closer to the real God? Is Alex Jones? Is any conspiracy theorist closer to the real God of the Bible for all the time they’ve spent on these things? No. They continue to waste their time violating God’s admonition in Isaiah 8:12, while they continue breaking the Sabbath, not honoring God through the Holy Days and His sacred convocations, using His name in vain, supporting ministries preaching a false Jesus Christ, etc. Believe it or not (you likely won’t, but I have hopes you might), spending vast amounts of time and mental energy on these things is for many among the “pleasures of life” that choke those who hear the truth, as described by Jesus Christ in Luke 8:14. For those fully absorbed by the New World Order that Jesus Christ is bringing (Isaiah 9:6-7), all the convoluted theories about an earthly New World Order are easier to ignore, and the wisdom of Isaiah 8:12 is easier to acknowledge.

    Why spend so much time on this topic? Because I have seen, with my own eyes, sincere and honest Christians get sucked up into all of this conspiracy theory business to the point that it becomes a substitute god to them without their knowledge. It takes them over and—sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly—it chips away at the truth they once held dear. Yes, there is a “conspiracy”: Revelation 12:9, “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan… deceives the whole world…” The whole world. Sure, that includes the Bilderbergs, the Masons, the Rockefellers, etc. And it also includes Jesse Ventura, Alex Jones, the John Birch Society, etc. — all of them deceived. It is that deception that God is spending His time on, and it is that deception He is working to turn people away from. Shouldn’t His focus be ours?

    I won’t allow my blog to become a pulpit for those things that have been shown to be effective tools of Satan the devil in distracting God’s people and corrupting the purpose of Jesus Christ and the gospel. The fact that the reasoning is so cobweb-thin behind those claims only adds weight to my decision.

    Consequently, please feel free to post in the future, Steven. Generally, your comments are appreciated. But don’t expect me to allow any of this sort of ungodly conspiracy evangelizing in the future. Writing a post of that nature will be a waste of your time.

  13. Seeing the seeming ease we build big box store in exurbia, you can think there is nothing man can’t do. Rocky soil seems easy handled with earth-moving equipment. But a storm like a hurricane, or tornado makes a total mess of it all.

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