Like clockwork about three a.m. this morning, completely cooperating with the predictions of weather forecasters over the last four days, the pinging of sleet announced it’s arrival. Most of Georgia is officially in a winter weather warning or watch for either an ice storm or heavy snow. For many this is a normal occurrence during the winter months, but not so for Georgians. I can count on less than two hands the times we have experienced any more than the occasional dusting of snow to possibly an inch or two. Of the few times we have had more generous amounts or actually experience the rare ice storm, 1973 stands out as the worst in my mind. I was barely eleven at the time and it made an impression on me in so very many ways. Many lessons were set before me that are still very precious today.
I will first share a little background about the storm. It began in early January and in a short time there was ice accumulations of up to four inches in some parts of northern Georgia. We lived just outside of Atlanta and not far from Hartsfield Airport. It was not long before the weight of the ice began to cause widespread power outages. There were as many as 300,000 people without power. Our family was without power for a full week, despite living only 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta, some further out in rural areas were without for longer. When I think about that storm, I can still hear those snap, crackle and pops of the ice dangling from those lines and trees. For a child, the glistening ice was beautiful-it looked like a winter wonderland on a postcard. It was also a bit scary, because in the quiet of the night with no street lights, no flood lights or porch lights it seemed that the crackling and popping ice sounded much more ominous as branches and limbs overweighted with ice began to break. As I said above, this storm made a great impression on me in a number of ways, and I am still very grateful for ’til this day for lessons learned!
Lesson one, we were blessed. Lesson two, be prepared. Our family lived in a small suburban home at a time when all-electric homes were becoming more and more popular. Our home was a little older, maybe about thirteen or fourteen years old and we thankfully had a gas stove before pilotless ignition. We also had gas floor furnaces which required absolutely no electricity to run. We had a separate freezer and enough food in it to keep it cold until we could freeze jugs of water to add in to keep it cold and it was cold enough to freeze it outside! We also had lots of quilts, a couple of heaters, camping stoves and several oil lamps and lanterns for camping. We were equipped and were blessed with extra that we could share with a couple of families who had all-electric homes, one of which had recently returned home with their new-born. We were also blessed to have water longer because the floor furnaces kept our pipes warm, many were left with pipes burst and later water lines froze for many between the meters and the houses because of extreme cold.
Lesson three, Philippians 6-7. ” Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life!”. Remember those scary sounds in the night?? They got scarier! The crackling ice, breaking icicles, snapping branches, gave away to a huge snapping sound followed by an enormous thud, not once but twice during the middle of the night. Oh how I prayed that night, not one but two very good size pine trees uprooted completely and came down. Fortunately, neither hit our home or the home of our friends next door and damage was limited to the fence, the bumper of their car and the shell cover on the back of their truck. I was blessed to have learned at an early age to pray and pray I had done all through that night as the sound of falling trees continued throughout the night and throughout the week until the thaw finally came. Thankfully, most were in the woods across the street and caused no property damage. By the way, this possibly made the biggest impression to me as a child. To this day when I hear of a storm coming, I begin to immediately pray! It doesn’t matter if it is ice, thunder, lightening, flooding, tornado or hurricane. Prayer changes things and fear is a waste of time. Be anxious about nothing, pray about everything! The peace of God which passes understanding will come if we stand in faith. Speak to fear telling it to go!! Pray, believe, if necessary pray for help with our unbelief, and STAND!
There were probably many other lessons learned that week such as how to have fun without electricity or t.v., get along with and help others, and it is probably where I began to love reading books and the Word. Reminiscing over it today, I can’t help but to think of how much our world has changed since then we have made some great progress since 1973 but we have also tended to become more busy and less connected. Many of us don’t know our neighbors like we did in previous years but only know them on the surface to say hi, if we even know them at all. We had a park over a block away and there were mommas on that road that knew me and the kids next door and if she saw us at the park she would ask, “do your parents know you are here?” Now we are hard pressed to let kids walk two doors down without us right by their side because we live in a much different world.
Imagine if everyone who has faith even as small as a mustard seed resolved to:
Pray for protection and provision for ALL those in the path all of the storms in life, especially the elderly and children and the many people who are working and on call to keep us safe…police, firemen, military, national guard, coast guard, public safety workers, EMT’s, doctors, nurses, transportation workers, and for their families. What if we did it daily, not just when storms are predicted or overwhelm us in their wake? What if we choose to take a few minutes a day to stand in the gap out of compassion and gratitude and believe without doubt that not only is god willing but God is able! Storms and trials may still come but how much better equipped to weather them would we be? How much easier to face them just knowing we are uplifting each other before, during and following the threats that come?
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).