The Word of Our Testimony
Updated: May 23, 2020
I come from a long line of women who have been defined by several things. One, we are talkers. I get this directly from my mother. No matter how long we have been married, my husband can’t get over how I can go into a restroom and come out with a new friend. He’s always like, “Do you know her?”, and I always say, “I do now”. I seriously think I could have a conversation with a mime.
The second thing I inherited is not so great. I come from a long line of women controlled by fear. My husband has a catch phrase for me, “It doesn’t have to be possible; it just has to be terrible”. As funny as this is, it’s sadly been true. Fear has at times totally controlled my life. That’s why Satan uses it. Since he can’t touch our eternity, so Satan will do all he can to get us to wreck our life here. I’m about to share how God strategically used one of my greatest fears to free me. Only He can do something like that.
On the night of April 28, 2011, one of my greatest fears was realized when an EF4 tornado took our home. I've pretty much been terrified of tornadoes since the second grade.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but there are no pictures of the hardest parts of the aftermath. There are no pictures of us struggling with our son Brian for years as he suffered from PTSD which began at the age of 21/2, or my own PTSD which resulted in collapsed discs. There are no pictures of my husband for two years after the tornado, working a full time job and then taking down what was left of our home to the ground, and rebuilding it, to sell it, and build us another home. He worked 12-18 hour days every day, including Sundays. We used to pick him up and bring him clothes for church and then drop him back off on our way home. There is no picture of me, essentially a single mom of a 4-year-old and 2-year-old and pregnant with our third child. And while there are no pictures of this, not a frame, not a minute, not a second escaped God’s view. He was who walked us through that as well, day by day, moment by moment. He has been just as present with us as He was the night the tornado ripped through out home.
I believe God let me know that the tornado was coming. I had completely cleaned out the floor of our pantry and supplied it with blankets, headlamps and shoes. My husband and I literally made it to the pantry with our two small children, our four-year-old Kate and two-year-old Brian, seconds before the windows completely blew out of the house. The important things to know are that God totally prepared me only in the moment I needed it, not before.
The pantry was the only complete room left in the aftermath. It’s even more miraculous that God spared my Father, who was ironically taking shelter at our house for the night instead of spending it in the Atlanta airport. He was in the upstairs guestroom and as you can tell from the picture above, we didn’t have an upstairs anymore after the tornado. The irony that he thought our house would be a safer spot than the airport still makes me chuckle. People have often commented about the fact that he would have been safer there. But really, being out of the path of the Tornado isn’t what kept him safe, it was being in God’s hands.
There are so many details and miracles I don’t have space to share here. I’ll just have to hope we can meet in person sometime over coffee and I can tell you the whole story. The part of the story that matters most is what I learned about my fears. Fear has no real hold on me in the present because God’s presence is with me every minute I choose it. Fear can only get a hold on me when I leave the present and try to grasp at the future or the past. Most of the fears I’ve ever experienced, even if they came to fruition, were not what I had imagined. My imagination, admittedly more active than most, sets me up to fear things that will probably never be.
In my personal experience, what I imagined of my fear was way worse than the fear realized because I could not have imagined how present God would be in our tornado. He was tangibly present. I can’t ever imagine how He will meet my needs… until He does. He always meets them in the moment I need them, not sooner and not a second later. I can choose to look away from God in the present and focus on my past or turn to try to stare long into the future. God knows I can’t change either of those things, He just wants me to keep my eyes on Him. When I do that, I have the power to live freely in the present.
“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness”
When we can’t imagine fear away we stop looking at the past or the present, we set out eyes on Steadfast love who is with us this moment, and we walk on in His faithfulness. The Message translation says it like this, “So I never lose sight of your love, but keep in step with you, never missing a beat”.
Satan wants to kidnap our thoughts because He knows how important they are. He knows that our actions flow from them. Fear boiled down is simply unbelief, and Satan wants our thoughts to be characterized by fear instead of belief. We can choose belief and focus on God and let Him define us, or we can let our own thoughts play on our emotions and wreak havoc with our actions and be defined by them. This tornado has, in a way, defined me, not in the way Satan intended it to cripple me with fear and doubt, but in the beautiful way it deepened my belief in God. It has been one of God’s greatest kindnesses to me, a gift that I couldn’t be trusted to choose on my own. Telling this story over reminds me of the goodness and glory of God. When we tell our stories in the light of God’s glory, God’s glory defines us.
In Revelation 12:11 it says that the saints overcame their accuser (Satan), “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”. The blood of the lamb that covers us and our testimony are tools that defeat Satan. We need to hear testimonies of victory; we need to share our word of testimony because it powerfully defeats our accuser. Everyone has a different story, this is only part of mine, sharing each miracle of God builds up the body, the bride, as we wait for Jesus.