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If you’ve been listening to Kinship Radio at all lately, there’s no doubt you’ve heard “Strong” by Anne Wilson.

The lyrics talk about putting on a strong face for the world to see but admitting inside, “dear Lord Jesus, you know I can’t do this on my own.”

On May 21, an F4 tornado hit Greenfield, Iowa. I had been involved in the clean-up and relief efforts of the tornado that hit Minden, Iowa, two weeks before that.

The Minden tornado was big and nasty. It ran through the town of about 600 like a blender, chewing up homes and businesses and scattering debris over miles.

By contrast, the Greenfield tornado was a giant, vicious, brutal, monster of a tornado. There was something almost malevolent about it. 

This storm was 40,000 feet tall, a thousand feet wide, and had wind speeds of over 300 mph when it hit Greenfield. This is only the third time in known history when a tornado had wind speeds measured that high. Homes and businesses directly in its path were more-or-less vaporized. Buildings slightly off to the side of the epicenter were twisted, shifted, picked up and dropped back down –sometimes ten feet off their foundations.

There were 35 people injured and at least four people were killed.

The first home I was involved in with relief efforts through GoServ Global was next door to where a couple died. Their home took a direct hit and they had no basement. 

They never had a chance.

As I was standing by the side of the road, I looked down in the gutter and found a Polaroid photo of that couple, taken Easter morning in 1982. They were standing behind an Easter Lily.

I did not feel strong that morning.

The truth is, we are not strong. We are tiny, fragile human beings that live and move and breathe and have our being in what is a very narrow band of existence provided by the grace of God. We are, indeed, like lilies of the field –here one day and gone the next.

Given all the devastation and hurt around me, it seemed almost surreal that in the midst of it all, someone was painting red hearts on tree stumps and destroyed homes. At the busiest intersection in town, right where the tornado had gone through, someone made a sign from a piece of tornado debris that said, ” Strong lives here” and the “v”  had been turned into a heart.

The words spoke “strong” but the symbol said “love.”

That’s the point. We are not strong, but real love is. All of the hearts-and-flowers greeting card love in the world means nothing when your whole neighborhood is vaporized in seconds. But the love of a God who is love, who created us in love to love Him and to love each other, who sent His own Son to die for us in genuine agape love can bring healing and a form of peace that nothing and no one else can.

Wilson’s song is right. We can’t do this on our own, but we can know the One who makes us strong.


Today’s Praise

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NIV)



Photo by author. No rights reserved. If you want to use this photo to bring glory to Jesus, you have all the permission you need.

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