Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Faith in a Storm

Luke was playing on the floor of the church Sunday school classroom. The room doubled as a play area while worship service was occurring in the Sanctuary. It was the evening of August 3, 1956, and it was also Luke’s 5th birthday.

On Sunday mornings Luke had to sit in the big church with his mom and dad. It seemed like forever until the man at the front quit talking and the adults behind him quit singing. At the end some people walked all the way down to the front and talked to the man that talked a lot. He would shake all of their hands and tell them they were saved and “welcome to the Lord”, or something like that. Sometimes the grown-ups cried in the big church and Luke didn’t understand why. It didn’t make him sad to be in there, just tired and sleepy. On Sunday evenings Luke was allowed to play in the playroom instead of sitting in the big church. He liked it much better in the playroom.

Mrs. Bishop was the playroom supervisor on that night. Mrs. Bishop was an odd looking woman with a skinny frame, short black hair and horn rimmed glasses. She had red fingernails and she put lotion on her hands a lot. She would give some lotion to the girls in the playroom, but never to the boys. She was always dutiful to her job of watching the kids for their parents, believing that she was doing God’s work just the same as if she was in the Sanctuary at the worship service. She normally sat in one corner reading Reader’s Digest or Life magazine, looking up if a ‘kid commotion’ developed. On this evening however, Mrs. Bishop wasn’t reading and she looked very worried.

Outside the playroom the Texas evening had changed from an amber dusk to a black and threatening sky. Lightning ripped from the dark clouds, the thunder booming in tandem with the light. The lightning would light up the outside of the building as if it were daytime, but only in short bursts, like camera flashbulbs going off in the dark. The immense cracks of thunder were almost simultaneous with the light. Mrs. Bishop knew that meant the lightning was very near the church and the sky was turning more menacing while she watched. She could see all of this through the large glass window on the east side of the room.

Luke was playing with a train on the vinyl tile floor of the playroom. He sometimes had to stop and roll up the sleeves of his Sunday dress shirt, because they would unroll while he played and cover his hands almost to the end of his fingers. He would guide the train on the tracks while pretending that it was taking him from his house to the grocery store. From the grocery store he and his mom would ride the train to the drug store and then they would get back on and ride home. Sometimes in Luke’s imagination the train went other places. It was his favorite toy in the playroom.

The storm was growing more and more intense and now the kids began to gather in front of the window with Mrs. Bishop. Now the children looked worried too, and they begin to ask Mrs. Bishop about when their parents were coming.

Luke didn’t go to the window. Luke wasn’t worried or afraid. Inside Luke’s head he was singing and thinking these things; ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’.......’for the bible tells me so’……........’God is everywhere, maybe even in your pocket’…….Luke was thinking these things because his mom had told him this and his dad and his Sunday school teacher had said it too. His dad’s name was Jacob and he was a deacon in the church. Luke believed all of them.

When Luke looked out the window he wasn’t one bit afraid. He was safe and he knew it…….”Jesus loves me this I know”…….and he played with the train as though there was no storm at all.

From down the hall Luke heard footsteps that sounded as though someone was running. This sound caused Mrs. Bishop and the children to turn and wonder. The door flung open suddenly, banging violently against the wall and Linda’s mom grabbed Linda by the hand and said something in a voice so excited that Luke couldn’t understand her.

Mrs. Bishop screamed out “What’s happening Doris”? Mrs. Bishop seemed very scared and her voice had grown louder and higher than Luke had ever heard it. Linda’s mom screamed back “it’s a tornado, I saw it, it’s right outside” and then she ran back down the hallway dragging Linda by the hand.

Luke continued to play with the train; he wasn’t afraid.

More parents came running down the hall, grabbing their children and running from the playroom. Amid all this confusion Luke continued playing with the train. He didn’t understand why all the adults were so afraid; didn’t they know that Jesus loves them?

Luke heard a loud noise and looked up from the train. The roof above him was flying away and there was a noise that sounded like a real train it was so loud. Raindrops pelted against his uplifted face. When he looked back down at the train the rain began to run from his hair down his face and across his glasses so that he couldn’t see clearly. He could see only a fuzzy blackness and feel the wind blowing him around and around, then into the air and all the way out of the building. And then it stopped.

Luke didn’t know exactly where he was, but the train was still in front of him. He looked around at the trees. He could see blue sky and feel a soft wind blowing behind him. Things seemed very different from the storm and the playroom. Luke began to play with the train again.

After a while Luke realized there were many other children around him. He didn’t know them, but they were laughing and playing the same as him. He wondered where he was and where his parents were, but he still wasn’t afraid. He felt happy.

Then just like that a very kind lady told him that his dad would be there to get him in a short time. He couldn’t see the lady who told him this because at the same time she said it, the sun had shone very brightly. It made him feel good to know his dad would be coming soon. It made him feel happy, and so he played with the train some more.

His dad did come to get him. Luke saw him walking through the other children. When his dad came to where he was playing Luke told his dad that the bright sun lady told him he would be there very soon. His dad smiled, picked him up, hugged him and kissed him then sat him down again beside the train.

His dad told him his mom would be along shortly too, that she had a few more things to do in the big church room.

At the cemetery Luke’s mother sat in front of her husband’s and her son’s headstones. She wiped away her tears and did her best to be strong. It was hard for her, she felt so terribly alone on this Tuesday morning. She stared at the headstones and wished things were different.

Lucas Matthew Jordan

August 3, 1951 – August 3, 1956

Jacob Lucas Jordan

April 14, 1933 – May 21, 2003

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