Shelter From the Storm: How My Real-Life Tornado Shelter Became a Reminder of God’s Protection

A small house under a stormy blue, gray sky.My hardworking husband, his buddy, and my caring father recently saw fit to move my storm shelter from my old house to our new home across town. In the rain. First, let me say that the storm shelter is very heavy. Like…tons. (I cannot tell you how many tons, but I know it’s plural). Secondly, the new driveway is steep. It’s steep enough that moving a two-ton storm shelter uphill into a garage takes a bit of human know-how and some mighty heavy equipment on the side. All of which these three men heroically provided.

My family and I live in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks where tornadoes are fairly frequent visitors in the late spring and early fall months. Having family and friends who survived two devastating tornadoes several years back, I would never wish to be without a shelter in which to ride out the inevitable storms we experience each year. We simply do not mess around when chances are favorable for these terrifying and destructive monster storms. 

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I recall one occasion where the sirens went off around midnight (why can’t tornadoes strike at a more reasonable hour?). I shuffled my two sleepy sons, two confused dogs, and one very teed-off cat to the shelter. We sat nearly on top of each other for what felt like hours, but was really only a handful of frightened moments. 

The author’s storm shelter, about to be moved

I was convinced that every movement I saw in the dimly lit shelter was a poisonous spider coming to take me out of my misery before the tornado could fully desecrate my home and leave us trapped in the shelter with no food or water for days on end. 

Fortunately, there were no tornadoes; at least none close to our home in the suburbs. There were also no killer spiders. It did make for a good story, as my boys are both quite dramatic – one had a blast in the shelter with our hairy and smelly pets, while the other was convinced we were all going to die and practically screamed his head off every time I went to check for the much-anticipated all clear sign mere inches from our shelter.

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Tornadoes are extremely unpredictable and can be wildly destructive and torturously terrorizing. The effects of such high-powered, volatile tornados remind me a bit of certain seasons in my own life. You can be going along on your merry, comfortable, everyday path. You feel healthy, your job is going as well as can be expected, your children are not in jail, and your spouse occasionally reassures you of their love. And then…..BAM! Out of nowhere, you suffer a devastating miscarriage of your very first pregnancy, your devoted spouse decides to devote themselves to another, or you lose that second chance love you thought would last forever. These are some of the emotional and physical tornadoes that stand out in my own life. 

Perhaps the tornadoes in your life are not quite as dramatic. Your identity gets stolen, you develop an unprecedented tryptophan allergy, making future Thanksgivings much less alluring, or you gamble away your savings on a pyramid scheme your sister-in-law assured you was going to change your life for the better. 

Even positive changes carry a certain level of stress. For instance, you find that elusive diet plan that finally works but must completely avoid your absolute favorite dessert, you decide now is a good time for a career change or a family move, or you meet the love of your life, only he lives halfway across the country.

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I decided to move this storm shelter because I wanted the assurance that I would have a place to go, should a tornado rear its ugly head in my new home. Not that these safe shelters are 100% fail proof. Of course, neither are seat belts. But they do somewhat mitigate a level of damage, so being a cautiously conservative person, I make every attempt to pad myself with as much protection in this life as possible.

Spiritual protection is just as important. Scratch that, it is way more important! Knowing you have a built-in life raft for those pesky, unforeseen tribulations is a security blanket you simply cannot put a price upon. I always knew my spiritual health was important, but the older I get, the more I realize it is the absolute most important investment I can make, for myself and that of my children. 

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1

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My tornado shelter may protect my physical body from harm when life’s storms rage outside the foundation of my safe and comfortable home, but my heart is still in need of protection from the more internal storms that rage their way into my life. Heartbreak is heavy, disillusionment is real, and people will let you down. However, Jesus will always offer a protection we simply cannot find anywhere else. Being the great physician, he will bind our hearts, heal our wounds, give us strength, and love us back from the source of destruction to the transformation of healing and beauty. Not only is his powerful love healing, but Jesus is the quintessential shelter of each and every life storm we will ever face. He gives us peace, rest, and a much-needed shelter which will offer protection from the ravages of any life storm which crosses our path. 

Thank you, Lord, for providing shelter in your loving arms and for guiding us with your spirit. Help us to cling tightly to your promises and know that no matter what tornadoes this life may bring about, that the state of our soul is tightly wrapped in security when handed over to your loving care, graceful desire, and protective shelter.