April 3

Written by Bill Grandi on April 3rd, 2023

I’m writing this Sunday morning. The reason for that is found at the end.

April 1st is typically called April Fool’s Day.  That usually gives people the “oomph” to do something or some things silly to trick someone else. Sort of like “You have won a million dollars!” but not really.  Well, April 1 turned out to be not so much of a joke in my neck of the woods. Extreme weather passed through our area and at 10:30 Friday night (March 31) the sirens went off indicating a tornado had been spotted and was headed our way.  Jo and I were already asleep when Tami came into our room to wake us up (she hates storms so was still up. Plus she stays up way later than her old parents).  🙂  Anyway, she came in to wake me up and so we all sat in the living room ready to head to the bathroom in case of a tornado. Very soon all power went out and it was dark as midnight without any moon or stars shining. We were able to see by flashlight and the lights on our phones.  As I sat there it suddenly got deathly quiet and then it sounded like a freight train was going over us. One man said he went outside and could see the tornado in the clouds. Fortunately, it passed over our town. The damage to town was plenty of uprooted trees and some damage to houses (roof, siding, and some tree damage to roofs), but they were not so fortunate at McCormick’s Creek State Park (state park just outside the town of Spencer).  The campground in the park took a major hit that sheered trees, uprooted many (and I’m talking huge trees), turning over campers and destroying property.  As chaplain for the Owen County Sheriff Department, I was called to the park Saturday night where there were two confirmed deaths. (The family said they were Christians. If so, death is victory, but no easier to take when it is sudden).

I have ridden my bike through the park several times. Tall majestic trees brought a natural beauty to the park. The campground-for both glamping and roughing it-was a wonderful place to spend a weekend or a week. Lots of shade and peaceful visits with family and friends. Not any more.  It looked like someone has taken a saw and cut down tree after tree and broke off the tops like one would with a toothpick.

I stood in awe and “fear” of the power of nature and the power of the storm. But I also could not help but reflect on the creative power of God. There will be people questioning-always has been and always will be-why God did not stop the tornado from the park. Yes, He could have. Without a doubt. But He didn’t. Not this time. But that does not mean He isn’t God. He is still the God of the storm and wind and rain and sun. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork” is the way the psalmist put it in Psalm 19:1.  Genesis 1:1 tells us “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” It is all His design.

The trees will eventually come back. Many will be leveled. Many new ones will be planted. My heart breaks, not for the park, but for the folks who lost loved ones.  As I texted several people who had minimal damage to their property: things can be replaced; people can’t.

Last night I wore a badge to be part of the “bad news” club. I knew it was a possibility when I became chaplain. Chaplain or pastor it is never easy, especially when you don’t know the people and can offer comfort but know they won’t take it from a stranger. So pray for the family (I don’t know their name but God does), and pray for the first responders who had to find, work to get them out from a collapsed camper, and for those who witnessed it.

The God who made the heavens and the earth and the storms also knows who they are. Thanks.

Jo and I left Sunday afternoon for a real short visit to Ohio. Her sister is now on kidney dialysis and her birthday is also tomorrow (Tuesday). We will be staying in Columbus where our daughter and grandson live, then head up to see her (she will probably not remember who we are) on Monday. Prayers for a safe trip are much appreciated.  Unless something major “inspires” me, I will not be posting tomorrow.


10 Comments so far ↓

  1. Oh, Bill, I can feel the heaviness of your heart. How tragic for all involved. Safe traveling, my friend.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Thank you Diana. It was hard to see the power and yet the devastation of the storm. Prayers are appreciated.

  2. So heartbreaking, Bill. You and Jo and those who suffered such great loss are in our prayers.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Thanks Pam. Jo and I were not hurt from the storm. Only lost power. The real ones are the family of the two who lost their lives (they live about 2 hours away).

  3. Ryan S says:

    My prayers are with the family, as you said… Things can be replaced and for those that know and have put their trust in Christ that lost their lives… The transition is celebrated. For those that remain will only have their memories to lean on. I pray they are comforted by God. May his peace and love overflow.

    Have a safe trip my friend!

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Your words are true Ryan. We plan to head home tomorrow. Thx for the prayers

  4. gail says:

    I also have a coworker that lives on my street a crossed the highway, she has two houses on her property, one house lost the second floor, and big part of the first, and her house lost the roof and other damage to house. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt. Both of those touch downs were pretty close to me. The Lord protected me and my house, not sure exactly why I escaped any damage but I feel extremely grateful and blessed that I was ok. It’s always hard to understand how some lose so much, and I was unharmed. I will be praying for everyone that lost family or had damage. Reflecting on all of this. Safe travels Bill, and prayers for Jo’s sister

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Thx Gail. I’m trying to think where that is. I’ll have to ask Wednesday night. It is always hard to understand the ways of a storm and of God. Thx for the prayers. Jo’s sister sorry of knew her but not me at all.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Pastor Bill, I am SO sorry to read of this terrible loss and just praise God that you and your family and home are safe. May Jesus comfort all who mourn, and may He continue to use you in a powerful way to minister to the hurting souls. You are such a blessing and your heart for God and people just shines through in every post. I am so thankful God led me to your blog. I am praying for you and yours.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      First, most of all thank you for your prayers for those who suffered loss. I simply cannot imagine how they feel. Second, thanks so much for your kind words about my heart and my blog. I’m not saying this lightly when I feel honored and humbled by your words.