I just spent the weekend in Huntsville AL for a wonderful celebration of friendships, common beliefs and fellowship. But the weekend got off to a rocky start as tornados moved through the Tennessee Valley midday on Friday. This is actually the second weekend in a row when inclement weather threatened the Huntsville area. Two weekends ago, the sirens didn’t go off in time and people were not properly warned of the danger approaching. That definitely was NOT the case this past weekend.
My mother and I were at Walgreens picking up a few essential items that we thought we had, but didn’t when the sirens started going off. Ok, I live in a big metropolitan city – I’d never heard tornado sirens before…but I noticed people rushing out of the store and quickly getting in their cars and driving away from the parking lot. I tuned in WJOU radio and heard my best friend on the air, calmly informing people that the area was under a tornado warning and that everyone should take cover immediately. She was even kind enough to tell those of us who had NO IDEA what to do – get out of your cars, get out of any mobile homes, stay away from the windows, get into a central room of the house with no windows – stuff like that. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in the car, waiting for my mom to come out of the store with batteries and juice and other stuff. She eventually comes out and confirms that the sirens are for the tornado warning and that we needed to head to the hotel immediately.
So, I start the car and we start driving. Now, we were not far from our hotel, but it was still a little disconcerting to hear my friend “screaming” on the radio, ‘take shelter NOW’ (with the word “idiot” not spoken, but implied). So, you don’t want to drive recklessly when the winds are blowing and the rains are lashing and yes, the hail is pounding your rental car and you're thinking, ‘I sure hope they won't charge me if there is hail damage to this car’, but you want to get back to the hotel – QUICKLY!! I zoom under the hotel portico, let my mom off and drive quickly to park the car in the hotel’s underground garage.
Now, when I checked in, I requested a “high floor room”, so we’re on the 8th floor of a 10 story hotel. (The view of the storm was awesome, but there was no way I could take pictures…you know I thought about it!) We are there for about 5 minutes before the in-house hotel announcement system comes on to tell us that they are monitoring the track of the storm and that, while it seems like the tornados will not impact us directly, if we want to seek safety in the first floor ballrooms, the hotel has opened those rooms for guests seeking shelter. So, I turn to my mother, who has changed into ‘more comfortable’ clothing and has rolled up her hair in preparation for Friday night vespers, and ask does she want to go downstairs to the ballroom. With a look of total exasperation on her face, my mother tells me, “I just changed clothes and rolled my hair – I'm not going downstairs looking like this!” So vanity trumps safety when you are in the midst of a storm. [but stupid me, I stayed with her instead of seeking safety myself – what does that say about me – besides, I am the BEST daughter ever!]
Makes me think, though. How often do we ignore the warning sirens that God sets off in our lives because we are busy ‘shopping’ for things we think are essential? We hear the warnings (over TV, radio, Internet) and still ‘drive on’. How many times do we allow ‘vanity’ in our lives keep us in unsafe environments? I just thank God that He watches over us in our foolishness and gives us one more chance to get it right.