Home > Gospel, In the News, Life at Union > ‘i remember’ . . . 2.5.08

‘i remember’ . . . 2.5.08

7:02 pm is when the power went out and the clock tower stopped ticking.

7:02 pm is the frozen moment in time that lingered in the air over Union’s campus.

7:02 pm . . . little hand a smidge past the “7”, big hand smack dab on top of the “2”

7:02 pm is when the ef-4 tornado decimated our campus, plowing directly into the heart of the residence halls.

7:02 pm is when people should have died. Nobody did.

. . . . . . .

That was a year ago, tonight.

The student body of Union University gathered together tonight in Barefoot’s Joe, the on campus coffee shop that was a “gift” – in a strange sense – of the tornado.

I had the opportunity to take 15 or 20 minutes to speak at the end of the gathering.

I asked the students to remember . . . to make tonight a remembrance . . . so it only seemed fair that I would do the same.

. . . . . . .

20090206-uu-before-after

Some things are really easy to remember – some are easy to forget.

I remember the smell of the frozen pizza we put in the oven at 6pm.

I remember the tornado watch going off at 6:30pm.

I remember the tornado warning going off at 6:45pm.

I remember not liking the smell of the pizza anymore.

I remember sitting in the hall closet watching the storm traveling along I-40 from Memphis up to Jackson.

I remember seeing the radar, having this strange feeling, thinking: “Either this tornado will stay South of I-40 and hit our house or it will go North of I-40 and hit Union.”

I remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I remember hearing them say, “the radar is on a one minute delay”.

I remember watching the storm cross the highway 4 miles West of our house.

I remember telling Beth to put her boots on – her being confused by this and putting her moccasins on instead.

I remember hearing the report: “Union’s been hit”

I remember the dummy wound I got on my way out the door when, amped with adrenaline, I managed to put my hand through the glass of the storm door and cut myself pretty badly . . . feeling like a fool . . . leaving myself with a scar to remember.

I remember driving through the blacked out city, turning up Pleasant Plains Road.

I remember thinking, “If the clock tower is down, I don’t know what I am going to do”

I remember seeing the clock tower still standing, thinking to myself, “I don’t know what is about to happen, but whatever it is, we’ll make it”

I remember running through a ditch, looking down at my feet crossing over a ripped off piece of roof, everything going into slow motion, looking up from my feet to see the cars strewn about the campus, thinking with absolute certainty: “Tonight I will be pulling bodies and body parts out of the wreckage”

I remember digging through the rubble of Wingo and Jelks halls – dorms that I had never even had a tour of . . . I just knew that they were the crummy buildings I had walked by a couple of times.

I remember helping to get the girls out of the bathtub they were trapped in.

I remember looking around me, calling Ben Dockery . . . saying, “where are you?” . . . hearing “I am digging people out of the rubble”.

I remember being confused, then realizing, “there is more rubble more people”.

I remember standing on top of a pile of rubble that use to be a commons building, 1:30 am, looking into a hole where 6 young men were trapped – a hole that couldn’t have been more than 10 feet long with a little 5 foot “L” at the end.

I remember taking pictures of the hole with my cellphone, realizing that the hole should have been a grave.

I remember hearing that nobody was dead.  No body was dead. Nobody is dead.

I remember two weeks later, teaching a campus Bible study, amazed by how much there was to learn from Job.

I remember reading the text, understanding that Job suffered greatly, but really confused by this long, rambling, “whose fault? whose right?” conversation between Job and his friends.

None of them were right, all of them missed the point.  They wanted to assess blame, God showed up to set them straight.

I remember reading that God showed up and spoke from a whirlwind – right there, Job 38, there is something about the furor of a mass of whirling wind and debris that God found befitting to declaring: “Just who do you think you are?” and asking a series of questions obviously intended to elicit Job’s (correct) response: “nobody”.

I remembered a passage in 1 Peter, a passage written to a suffering church who had seen much hardship and persecution.

I remember being blown away by how Peter comforted these Christians who were scattered across modern day Turkey, saying to them:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

What will you remember Union student?  Family member?  Long lost friend?  Blog reading friend?

What will you remember when you are faced with disaster?

Some things are easy to remember – some things are easy to forget.

Remember what matters.

What matters is that suffering and hardship should be endured with joy, experienced in faith, and result in praise, glory, and honor to Christ.

Remember what that looks like – what that means practically.

Remember that a life of remembrance of the gospel, giving glory to our grandiose God, is the life that – even in the midst of tornadoes, torture, and toddlers – thinks, feels, and acts like this:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Remember. Don’t forget.

Remember 7:02 pm. Remember 2.5.08.

Remember, above all else, the cross and the resurrection.

. . . . . . .

Long post, I know, but a special one to me.

I would love your feedback on the tornado – your experience of the tornado if you are a Unionite.

I would love to hear if you have your own tornado-like experience that is a stone of remembrance in your life.

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  1. lauren day
    February 6, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    I actually met the girls in the bathtub… I was visiting my friend Renee in Nashville shortly after the tornado hit you guys. Renee’s sister and her friends drove up for the day from union and told me the incredible story of God’s faithfulness as they were rescued from the tub. Small world. Big Grace.

    I’m going to try to catch you on the phone in the next few days Mrs. Beth Ann before you are +1.

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