by Amie Pickeral
October 24, 2007, started out as just another school day. Wake up, get dressed, get in the car, blah, blah, blah, and by 8:25, you had better be in your seat for first period.
It had now been exactly two months since I had started at Tunstall High School. Coming out of a private school that taught first through fourth grade in one classroom and fifth through eighth in the other, where everybody knew everybody else, there was no cafeteria, you had to pack your own lunch, and there were two teachers and nineteen kids in total, well, let’s just say that public school was a lot different.
But after a couple of days I started to get used to everything. Everything was going well, and I’d made a lot of new friends, considering I knew absolutely no one when I walked in the door the first day. Later that day, I had about five people that I could call a friend. By now I had more than I could count, which brings me to my story.
Like I said before, it was just a regular day. I went into M.B.’s class first for drama class. We had a lot of fun, but then it was time to go to second period for earth science. About five minutes after we’d taken our seats, Mr. Myers came up to teach us about earthquakes or something.
The office buzzed in and said, “It is time for the freshman class picture, so all freshmen need to report to the gym.” Well, his entire class were freshmen except for one girl, but we just brought her along with us. As we got there, ninth graders started piling in. They sat us up on the bleachers, and the school resource officer, after threatening to taze us if we didn’t quiet down, took the picture.
A girl I had just met, Tina, looked at me and said, “Did you notice how dark it has gotten just while we were taking the picture?” I agreed with her. It had gotten dark. Very dark.
I hate storms, high winds, and above all, tornadoes. While we were still seated, they called out over the loudspeakers, “Code Awareness. Code Awareness.” At Tunstall, that means that there is some very bad weather outside; get down immediately.
It was a tornado. The gym that seconds before was filled with
laughing, talking, and joking students was now in a panic. The one drill that we had not yet been over was the one
that was really happening. Except this time it wasn’t a drill.
I found a few of my friends and stuck with them. As we walked out of the gym doors into the hall, we saw doors with windows in them on one side of the hallway, and drink machines on the other wall. We took the first available spot, which was next to the drink machines. In a matter of seconds I felt someone kicking me on the back of my foot. It was Officer Silverman. He told my friends and me that we must get up. I was grateful, because I did not feel safe in that location at all.
They moved us to the back entrance of the auditorium. Joslynn was having a small panic attack and beginning to cry. Taylor, a girl I had never met before, was really crying, and Sierra and I were trying hard not to cry.
I was scared, and I think everyone else was too. Soon we could hear the rain and the wind. Have you ever noticed that when you get into a situation like this, it really makes you think? Will I live? Will I die? Will I be the only one to come out of this? Will I be the only one to die? What happens if the building collapses? Do Mama and Daddy know about this yet? Are they safe? What’s going to happen?
At that point, have you ever tried bartering with God? That’s just what I did! I don’t read my Bible very much, so I told Him that I could start doing that, or that Miranda and I could go around telling people about Him.
That didn’t help. I decided the only thing that would help was the only thing I had not done yet . . . pray. Don’t get me wrong–I had been praying the entire time, but that had been a very repetitive prayer, something like, “God, please get us out of this. God, please get us out of this. God, please get us out of this.”
Instead, I started praying, “God, I’m scared. I think everyone here is scared, and, God, I need to know that You are here with me.” In that instant I felt something touch my back. It felt like a large hand. I thought, “Man, this is cool.” So again I said, “God, I still need to know that You are here with me. If that is You, then could You please apply some pressure to my back? That way, if anything comes, I will be held to the ground and not swept away.” BAM! Right after I had finished praying that prayer, there was instant pressure on my back from the “hand.” Then I thought, “OK, this is pretty cool. I feel a lot safer now.”
All of a sudden this peace came over me. I wasn’t really scared anymore; in fact, I was rather calm. I had gone from fright to faith in a matter of seconds. So I said, “OK, Lord, I feel much better now, but my friends are still scared. So will You please release some of the weight off my back and give some to my friends to hold them down as well?” Immediately the pressure lifted.
They told us that we could now sit up some. We took advantage of that offer, which answered one of my previous prayers asking Him to relieve some of the tension I was feeling in my legs.
My friends Joslynn and Taylor were still crying. I looked at Taylor and said, “Would you
mind if I prayed with you?” She gratefully shook her head, so I prayed with her. My prayer went something like this: “Lord, Taylor is scared, I’m scared, and I think everybody else is scared too. You have never let anything happen to this school before, and we know that You won’t let anything happen to it this time either, ‘cause You’re our God! You’re on the throne! And we love You, Lord, Amen.”
I looked over at Joslynn and asked her if she minded if I prayed with her. She shook her head in agreement, and I prayed pretty much the same thing. Soon after the prayers were over, the two girls stopped crying, and we all started laughing and talking.
Finally the tornado warning was over, and we went back to our second period classes. I was so happy when I got back to earth science, because more than half of the class period was over, and that is my least favorite class. So when we did have a tornado, I guess God had it all in perfect timing!
What seemed like hours, in reality took about twenty minutes, but that twenty minutes had changed just another normal day into an extraordinary one. I got to see God working with my own eyes. Every day since then, I have been reading my Bible. I found the coolest verse in there, too! It is Psalm 97:10. It says, “Let those who love the LORD hate evil.” And here comes the really cool part: “He guards the lives of those who are faithful to Him. He saves them from the power of sinful people.”
Well, now that I have my Bible open, I guess I have to go. I’ve got a divine appointment with the Creator of the Universe. Thanks for reading my story, and now, I encourage you to go share the Word of Christ with everyone you know. Don’t be afraid, for “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
(Photos from Wikimedia Commons)