It was the worst case of déjà vu ever. A massive and fierce tornado bearing down on city of over a million people. We were here as a state, in this same city, only 14 short years ago.
Could this really be happening again?
And still the tornado came to Moore, Oklahoma. In the wake of destruction left behind were broken buildings and battered bodies. Some would emerge from their storm cellars to find nothing but an empty foundation. Others would hear the news that the school where they had left their little ones early in the day was nothing more than a pile of rubble. Jubilation erupts as a child is pulled crying from the wreckage, and overwhelming sorrow as others retrieved the limp and lifeless bodies of other children on the same site.
Lifetimes of memories decimated in an instant, and businesses that had taken a lifetime to build leveled in less than a minute. First responders rush in to rescue people and pets alike, offering aid, safety and consolation wherever they find a need. The adrenaline rush of everyone involved pushes them to do anything and everything possible to help, regardless of the difficulty or the horror they encounter.
And now it is the day after. The devastation of entire neighborhoods left in the wake of the mile wide cyclone looks like a war zone. The death toll rises, then drops, then rises again. Reality begins to set in on this southwestern city that although what happened was a nightmare, it was so very real. The tragedy of moment is overwhelming to both victims and emergency workers. All else seems trivial but this moment, this horrible experience in time.
Nearly everyone has faced a devastating circumstance in their life. Lessons for those of us outside of Moore, Oklahoma can be learned by watching the brave citizens of this town, and of the rest of my home state of Oklahoma. One of our first reactions is to ask, “Why did this have to happen? Why did it happen to me, or to my loved ones?” It’s an honest question, asked many times like this one through tears, anger and despair.
I don’t have an answer. I don’t trust anyone that does. It happened. But through my own crises in life, and by watching the brave survivors of the 1999 tornado that ravaged this same city, I’ve learned an important but hard lesson. “Now what?” is much better question than “Why?” It is because “why?” points us to the despair of the past. “Now what?” points us to hope for the future. So let those still wrestling with the pain of loss have their time to deal with it in their own way. But when the time comes, offer hope by helping them see the hope of a better time to come by asking “Now what?”
Times like this separate people into two very simple categories- 1)Those who are doing something to help, and 2)Losers. It’s really that simple. It sounds melodramatic and trite to say that everyone can do something. It’s more than that- everyone MUST do something. Do something to help. Anything. Donate money to disaster relief, send supplies, hold a fundraiser to help the survivors, pray- you can, and you should do something.
We occupy our spots on this globe for only an instant in the span of time and space. Leaders, people like you, make this place better while we’re here. Several Oklahoma companies have donated over a million dollars. Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder has donated a million dollars to the relief efforts as well. It’s what they could do. What can you do? Do something.
The graphic at the top of the page is one of the most gripping images from the debris left in the wake of the tornado. The sign probably used to decorate a wall or entryway in a home that is now leveled.
Its message is simple- “The most important things in Life are not things.” Does it really take a disaster of this magnitude for us to see that, believe that, live that truth? I hope not. But now is a time for not only our dear friends in Moore, Oklahoma to take stock in their life, but for you and me to as well. Houses, vehicles, all of the “stuff” we work so hard for can be gone in a blink of an eye.
What matters most in times like these are the lives of our family and friends and their safety. Everything else takes a backseat. We want to know they are OK, they are cared for, and that they know they are loved. Do that today with your loved ones. Make sure they know just how much you care, and invest in their lives with the things that matter most- time, your presence, and most of all your love.
I can’t imagine waking up yesterday morning and sending off my little one to school, and then as I lay my head down to sleep last night, knowing I’d never hold him or her again. I’m not sure I would know what to say to a mom or dad who was facing that fact right now. I just know they need our help. They need our love, and they need our prayers. Would you pause and make a decision about what you will do? I thank you, and my fellow Oklahomans thank you.
Believe me, we won’t take it for granted or forget it. God bless you, and God bless Oklahoma, whose message is simple – “The most important things in Life are not things.” Does it really take a disaster of this magnitude for us to see that, believe that, live that truth? I hope not. But now is a time for not only our dear friends in Moore, Oklahoma to take stock in their life, but for you and me to as well. Houses, vehicles, all of the “stuff” we work so hard for can be gone in a blink of an eye.
What matters most in times like these are the lives of our family and friends and their safety. Everything else takes a backseat. We want to know they are OK, they are cared for, and that they know they are loved. Do that today with your loved ones. Make sure they know just how much you care, and invest in their lives with the things that matter most – time, your presence, and most of all your love.
Donating money or time to the American Red Cross can always help. Donate online or by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS.You can also make tax-deductible donations to the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief online or call 405-942-3800.