Pastor's Column - February 19, 2014

First Byline: 
Rev. David Turner - Barnwell Presbyterian Church

Storm gives glimpse of Lord's power

It is now about three in the morning, the sounds of the night are a strange mixture of utter stillness punctuated by the rapid fire of the war between the ice and the pine trees. The ice falls in silent waves of rain freezing as it embraces the cold surfaces of the trees, immediately weighing them down and bending them over to the breaking point. With a loud crack the limb begins its descent to the ground slamming hard into other branches causing more damage in its death throes, then the silence begins again and I wait for the next crack of impending destruction.
The dark of the night defines for me the value of the day, and the stillness touches my heart with a certain anxiety. This is not the normal of my nights or days. I should be asleep, getting the rest that would enable me to face the morning, but the morning I face is not one of activity or purpose, but of quietness and wonder as I behold the massive destruction the weight of the ice has wrought. The plans for the day, the appointments on my calendar, the people I should meet and the things I should be doing are mute at this point. The downed limbs and trees block my way, the powerless shell of my home confines me, and I am imprisoned with my own thoughts and observations.
The first observation that sneaks in on my mind is one of awe. It is awesome to behold the power of nature's hand and to ponder on the power of people to contend against it. With all the equipment, skill, and knowledge, not one drop of rain could be stayed in the skies, nor could the cold wind be held back. The wrath of nature is greater than the hand of mankind.
Moments later I am confronted with the knowledge of my need. I feel alone in the battle against the elements stronger than I, then there is a call from a friend, a simple question of my welfare and a warmth fills my soul because I know there is love and caring in the midst of the darkness and cold. Welcoming hands, a warm cup of coffee and a shared journey make a difference.
I journey out in the day to observe the tragedy which has been visited on us all and I see a greater thing, something I had not expected. A tree that has fallen, not on a house with small children, but in another direction, across an empty field. I see a power line down and the scorching on the earth telling me how dangerous it could have been if someone had not seen it in the night. I see homes spared from the falling trees, cars and trucks still intact, and children playing in a winter wonderland. The providence of God is evidenced all around as we are forced to a moment of silence and observation and are blessed with a time to reflect, to wonder, to know that our God is God. The God of wind and ice, of trees and limbs, of darkness and cold, is also the God of care and compassion, of sharing and grace, of love and mercy.
A cup of warm soup, a cleansing shower, and a safe place to sleep is extended from friend to friend, and the love of Jesus is made clear. As we give thanks to those many who in the night worked to restore our comfort may we be a bit uncomfortable when we think we could master the realm of God's power. It is enough to know His love is greater than our fear or struggle, especially as we share it with each other.
Rev. David Turner is the pastor of Barnwell Presbyterian Church.