May 3rd never passes without reflection on the past for me. May 3rd was the day my grandfather stepped on American soil after serving three years in Australia during World War II. He met and fell in love with my grandmother before being deployed, but her daddy wouldn’t let her marry before he shipped out which meant he left a girlfriend, not a bride, for three long years for a foreign land.
He told me once he contracted malaria while he was there, and he prayed and asked God to let him live so he could go home to Texas and marry his girl. God answered that prayer and when he stepped off the plane in Lawton, OK on May 3rd, he headed straight to Valley Mills, Tx. They didn’t waste any time. Within days they were married at her sister’s house and moved to Lubbock to start their life together.
That was a good May 3rd. The war was over and soldiers all across the nation came home to their families and to their long-awaited love. On that May 3rd, the rain had ceased, and I wish I could’ve been alive to smell that fragrance of victory, homecoming, and lost love finally found again.
The other significant May 3rd’s don’t hold the title of “after the rain” as much as “the eye of the storm”.
May 3rd, 1988 changed my life. While it should be categorized as a bad day, it is also the day that changed my life for the better. It was the day of “my accident”. It was the day I fell under a brushog that mangled my body. The storm seemed to rage all around, threatening my comfortable and peaceful little life. It rattled it for sure, but couldn’t come close to destroying it. There was more damage done in that one little day than most rain clouds could cause. Our family was shaken. Faith was tested. On that Wednesday afternoon, we all wondered if this rain would stop and how anything fragrantly appealing could follow.
It did. It turned my life into a fragrant offering to my Lord and Savior because it was that one event that directed my life toward Jesus and held me constant throughout my life. He walked out on the water in the middle of my storm and told it to be still, and it was, immediately, in an instant. That’s when I said I would follow Him anywhere and tell everyone about Him that would listen. I did for a time, and then I became afraid people would think me silly or a liar if I continued to tell about all that He did for me. It’s been 31 years since that day and God is firmly bringing me back to that place of enthusiasm and zeal for the story He has given me in my life.
Eleven years later, May 3rd struck again. The strongest tornado on record ripped through my home. I know people that lost loved ones. It was devastating. It was horrific. That was the worst May 3rd because I wasn’t present. I watched from afar and heard the horror stories. My home church exploded beneath the 300 mph winds.
The storm moved on and eventually dissipated leaving carnage a mile wide and hundreds of miles long. Still today, I wonder where the fragrance is after that storm. I know of at least one woman that walked out her back door and realized that the storm had taken everything from beyond her house and on but left her alive, and at that realization that she had been spared from devastation, she gave her life to Jesus right then and there. She went on to be a devoted follower of Jesus to this day.
Others have found solace in Jesus. One friend lost her 3 week-old firstborn and mother-in-law on that day. She refers to her son as her deposit in heaven, and no doubt she trusts in Jesus for the strength to live life with joy all while missing him every day.
Many stories of miracles came out of that day like the baby that was found in the mud by a police officer. Or the family that found shelter in the church. The only walls left standing in that building were the four walls that surrounded them.
Jesus was there too. Sometimes we have to look with more intention for Him in the really bad storms, but He’s still there. His name was glorified and proclaimed after that storm for many reasons. Those that trudged through the aftermath and even served the community made sure that the sweet fragrance of sacrifice was evident to all that took the time to inhale the presence of Jesus, even in the worst rain.