When I picked up my packet and pulled out my bib, for an instant I wondered if I'd done the wrong thing. #13 was my bib number for the race. 13...what most consider an unlucky number. And that's the first thought that came to mind when I saw it. It seemed a sign that my guilt was not misplaced and maybe I was supposed to be back in Vilonia, helping with the clean up.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; ~ James 1:13
But then, in a matter of seconds, those thoughts were replaced with others and I began to feel a peace about being there. What changed? The verse James 1:13 came to mind, a verse that I have often called upon since we lost Amanda, a verse that tells me God is not capable of evil and He is not to blame for the tornado that roared through our community. We often blame God when evil pays us a visit, but it is in fact Satan who terrorizes us in an effort to turn us from Christ and back to the world.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
Something else I'd heard before then came to mind...what Satan means for evil, God can use for good. I saw a post shared on Facebook the other day that said this better than I can. Here is her post.
I've been asked and I've asked myself why does this keep happening to our community... Why such a Christian-based community that has to endure such pain and emotional trials... Then I see the interviews of survivors and majority if not all have references God and his mercy... I realized we aren't being punished or any kind of abomination... God knows that we are his people... People that will witness to the nation about our Faith and how we know he is in control... That we will Praise God in the Storm... He has used our communities to witness to the world... We don't get on camera and doubt God's Plan... We thank him for his protection and blessings... So proud to be from an area that is faith strong and blessed in so many ways! We will praise him through the storm... We don't doubt God's Will. Proud to be an Eagle... Bleed and cry red.
Another post from a kid, a senior in high school, who lost everything...
People Want To See Angels, Take A Walk Through Vilonia And Look At The Volunteers Helping Throughout The Town. There's Your Angels!
There are times when our hardships seem too difficult to bear. Times when we wish things happened a different way. Times when we just can't understand.
But I'm proud of this little community, proud to be a part of it. A community where kids didn't see missed school days as an opportunity to goof off or wallow in self pity, but an opportunity to work and help their neighbors in need. I work in a school where teachers didn't consider staying home because school was cancelled. I was so proud of my colleagues who showed up in work clothes and climbed into piles of rubble, trudged through briars, woods, and fields to help clean up and recover anything that might be salvageable. And I was proud of the victims who refused to be defeated by Satan's attempt to shake their faith, who boasted of God's love and proclaimed Him sovereign to anyone and everyone who asked them how they're getting through this.
I thank God for the opportunity to work with such great people in such a wonderful community. I often tell people they'll have to kill me or fire me to get rid of me. That's more true now than ever as we once again come together to help and to heal.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.