X. Buy a Car--Duck a Tornado--God's Way!
by Bill Hunt
You know, the wildest things happen when you pray! Mary and I prepared to drive to Tulsa and enroll in graduate divinity school. We simplified all our possessions to the bare bones. We sold most of our household goods, and we shipped the remaining in a small load of essential boxes by truck freight.
But we needed a car to travel in!
So, I seriously shopped the auto dealer's lot and examined a few lines of cars. All but the used cars were way out of my league. Behind the building, I spotted exactly what I predetermined in my mind, a brown station wagon with a white top. I knew I wanted something for the hot western travel and the blazing Oklahoma sun. With financial planning, I admitted to myself I couldn’t accept the price tag.
Disappointed, I looked up to the sky and said one word, "Father?..."
Our limited funds forced us to purchase a black, four-door sedan. This seemed fine until, as I drove around town, the brakes failed!... I nearly rolled right through a few bright red-light intersections, pushing my foot through the floor and bracing my back against the seat, hard! Scared, I drove the sedan back to the dealer for repairs.
The next day, he phoned me.
"I have to be honest with you," he said. "The bad news is your car's rusted frame is bending, and that's why your brakes won't work. I can't let you have it. The good news is I have another car that I'll give you instead, no further charge.”
When I arrived at the dealer's, he asked to talk with me.
"My wife attends your prayer meeting, and she told me you are serving God. Now, I certainly don't want both my wife and God against me!" Then he presented my "new" car.
There out front of the showroom waited the nice brown station wagon with the white top, all cleaned and polished.
“It's the one I reserved for myself," he said.
God provides for the way in which he points!
Our four children in the station wagon traveled very well the long highway drive from Upstate New York to Tulsa . Most naturally, my wife worried about where we were going to live and how! With a phone call, O.R.U. placed us in touch with the president of the student association and his wife. This couple offered to welcome us into their home in the town of Broken Arrow. At least, we had a place to land.
On the last afternoon, as we drove the long hours of flat prairie lands toward Tulsa, the Oklahoma sky darkened with heavy, blue-black thunderclouds hanging low all along the horizon. I watched the black line quietly with a leery eye.
Jim and Sharon, business students from Texas, most graciously welcomed our tired family into their modern suburban home. That evening after supper, in view of the weather, Jim instructed us on basic precautions about tornadoes. Not a half hour later, we heard the terrible sound of a heavy locomotive coming toward us unseen in the pitch darkness of the rainy thunderstorm. There was no other warning. Radar did not detect the Broken Arrow Tornado.
"That's it!" said Jim.
To lesson the pressure on the structure of the house, Jim calmly walked to his front door and opened it. He walked to his back sliding door and opened that. I knew he was praying with great faith. On his signal, Mary took our youngest two children to a front bedroom closet. I lifted our other two children, one under each of my arms, and carried them down the hall into a back bedroom closet.
The tornado hit!
I watched as the ceiling in the bedroom outside my closet swelled and buckled. My ears popped! A brass pole lamp lost its spring tension from the ceiling and fell to the floor with an alarming crash.
I loudly commanded the name, "JESUS!"
Through the rainy night with no electric lights, we waited for the first rays of morning daylight to view the surrounding neighborhood.
Most of the houses ripped open and half crumbled, looking like a city dump. The living room curtains from the house behind us ended up in the front yard of our house on the other side. In the neighboring house beside us, the shattered sheet glass from the back storm-door flew through the big room and stuck like a hundred sharp, tiny daggers into the back of the ornate, wooden front door. The streets flooded with water from broken water mains.
In our host’s home, miraculously, only one two-by-four strut in the attic broke as the tornado sucked and buckled the roof. It was apparent, of all the houses in the neighborhood, the tornado jumped over our house as we called out the name “JESUS!”
I spent the first three days of my new life in Oklahoma directing curiosity traffic with the police away from the damaged Broken Arrow suburb. I found all this devastation troubling and regretful.
(#10 True Story in the series: Life is 100 Million Miracles.)