Brook Chase House After Tornado

Like Kings in Exile

It feels like an extended vacation that will end someday soon. This kind of thing happens to other people. Now we are the other people.

This was our house before Friday, March 23rd.

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And this is our house after it decided to star in the Wizard of Oz. Unfortunately, it didn’t get to kill any wicked witches.

Brook Chase House After Tornado

Our two story house is now a dilapidated, condemned, one story shanty shack. We are told the tornado played a little hopscotch for just a few seconds on the ground before dissipating, a storm the weather service had no chance of predicting. There was no warning, and the sirens went off after the damage was done.

Our house got its 15 minutes of fame. We saw it on the local news in Denver. A friend heard about it on the news in Seattle. And it wasn’t someone else’s house. It was ours.

We lost everything. But no one was home, so really, we still have everything.

Words of Job

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” I mean that when I write it and say it, but I feel like an impostor doing so. A three year old with a plastic hammer banging on plastic nails, pretending to do real work. By using Job’s words, it’s like I’m trying to identify with him, a sycophant trying to bask in reflected glory.

The great wind in Job struck down Job’s children, yet the great wind touched no flesh when it played pick-up sticks with our house. Thank God for that great mercy, because he knows just how much each of us can bear. A little hint: it isn’t anywhere close to Job-levels.

And then after Job really had lost everything, he lost even more. But by the grace of God, my family and I now live like kings in exile rather than as homeless paupers. He cradles us in his hand. We truly lack for nothing.

Family, friends, and church have rallied around us, ready to spring into action in a moment’s notice. We are grateful. We are humbled.

Order of Thoughts

While I would have liked for “Blessed be the name of the LORD” to be the first thought to have gone through my mind, I’m not quite there yet in my sanctification. Here’s the approximate order of my thoughts the moment after we got the call that our house was destroyed.

  • Are they joking? They better not be joking. But I sure hope they are joking.
  • I can’t believe Tonya and Adri are with me. They would probably be in the house at this time of day. Thank God for that.
  • My books are gone.
  • It gets fuzzy, but I think is where I mentally repeated a dynamic-equivalence transliteration of Job 1:21.

I feel like number three needs a little explanation. Yes, books can be replaced (barring certain first editions, which I didn’t have anyway), but the notes in them cannot. Those thoughts aren’t banging around in my head. That’s why I wrote them down. They also helped mark parts of books I thought were important, or something I could reference later.

Now, some of these were written as much as 6 years ago, so it might be for the best that they are lost. But the world will never know.

Besides, reading 2 Timothy 4:13, I like to believe Paul himself would have had simliar thoughts.

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (ESV)

Postal Observation

One thing was confirmed through all of this: the absolute absurdity of the United States Postal Service and the organization’s blindness and willful ignorance to change. They are like a waiter who, after discovering the patron at the table is dead, reaches over the corpose to continue pouring the wine and then asking if it would like any chocolate cake for dessert this evening.

Since we were out of town, we held the mail until the Saturday we got back…the day after the tornado. So, on Saturday afternoon, the postal worker drives up to the mailbox and sees this:

House hit by tornado, and mailbox

A broken non-house with a tilted mailbox to match it, crisscrossed with yellow borders to warn away the living. I wonder what went through their head when they witnessed the scene. Because we know the end result: they reached out, opened the door of the mailbox, and placed a week’s worth of our mail into it.

So you decide. An example of excellent custom service?

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5 thoughts on “Like Kings in Exile”

  1. Great write-up, Matt, and despite the gravity of the original subject, the mail anecdote is hilarious. Our mail service was perennially awful in Louisville (including “held” mail that was somehow lost in our absence or stacked up on our porch swing despite the order), but it’s much improved since our arrival in Greenville. ; )

    1. Thanks. It’s like they deliberately try NOT to think, which I guess is par for the course when you’re dealing with the Federal government, or direct offshoots of it.

  2. Hi Matt, I’m a friend of your Mom’s from Murray and am now in SC. I just wanted to reach out and tell you I have prayed for your family through this. You are showing such tremendous strength of spirit! I’m not sure I’d be there so soon. I just want to encourage you from afar and let you know there are people all over the country remembering your family in prayer.

    Lisa Skinner Jude 17-25 Persevere

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