I remember driving this part of the Natchez Trace after that tornado, and the damage was massive. If you've ever been down this road, you know that greenery COVERS the entire drive. In fact, I've never liked driving down the Trace, because the view is exactly the same for the whole drive. Beautiful, towering trees line the road from start to finish. The fullness of the forest is pretty, but there were never any markers from Jackson to Tupelo.... until April, 2011.
When the tornado came through, it WIPED OUT an entire section of trees. It CLEARED the land. It didn't happen in one little patch. A whole section of land was desolate. The fullness was gone, and wide open land, empty land, was left.
This past Spring, Tupelo experienced a tornado, and the scenery there is marked by the storm that passed through. Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes all leave a mark. They leave evidence of the damage caused. That's why Scotty and I have always labeled his confession and all that followed our "earthquake", and it also occurred in 2011.
When I think about the picture of that desolate piece of the Trace, I know it's a great picture of the emotional devastation we felt in August of 2011. The storm ripped through our lives, and it WIPED me out! My life was clearly marked by the storm. It made my view entirely different. Internally, I felt the fullness of life (the life I knew) was gone, empty.... The "storm" ripped through and left it's mark. Looking back, I can place a sign on the time line of my life....
On Friday, though, I saw a different view. I haven't driven the Trace in a while (remember it's not my favorite). So, as I moved into the damaged area, the view looked completely different. It wasn't clear anymore. It wasn't wide open and empty. There was growth! There was GREEN! There was life!
Amazing! It's taken some time, but new life is apparent. And, I couldn't help but compare the beauty of the greenery in a damaged patch of the Trace to my own life. This piece of land is still marked. Anyone can see that it's been hit by a tough storm. But, it doesn't look defeated anymore. The new growth of green is a picture of healing and recovery of strength.
Just like this patch of land, I'll forever be marked by the storm. But, almost three years later, I'm marked by newness of LIFE. Our family is marked by GROWTH. And, there's GREENERY to be seen again. As I drove through, I realized that I wasn't focused on the devastation anymore. Instead, I was marveling at the fact that God heals all hurt. And, in HIM, no devastation can last forever.
I had a time of Thanksgiving right there.... Aren't you glad we can praise and worship our Creator whenever and wherever? I did! I began to think about all of the FRUIT that has come from our storm. And, I realized that Crowder's song, I am, was playing from my iPod. I am holding on to you, I am holding on to you, in the middle of the storm, I am holding on, I AM.
Yes. He was. He was holding on right in the eye of the storm when I didn't have the strength. It's taken some time; but, today, I look up and there's growth, there's strength, there's greenery. The storm may have ripped through. The landscape may always be marked. But, beauty and life are apparent.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19