Originally Published December 2015
I mean, what use is a religion if you can’t divert devastating natural disasters to your heathen neighbors, amirite?
That’s not exactly what happened in the case of Sabrina Lowe of Rowlett, Texas—who did ask God to send the EF4 tornado away last Saturday, but only to an “unpopulated place.” And it apparently worked. From an interview with Lowe on NPR:
“We actually went outside and started commanding the winds, because God had given us authority over the winds, the airways. And we just began to command this storm not to hit our area. We spoke to the storm and said, ‘Go to unpopulated places.’ It did exactly what we said to do, because God gave us the authority to do that.”
This does bring up a few of questions. First, do we know for sure that the tornado didn’t end up killing any other people after it was commanded to leave Rowland? And if it did, would that mean the prayer unintentionally doomed other people or places?
Second, even if the tornado skipped Rowland and went to the “unpopulated” place to cause havoc, did the prayer alter the course of history somehow? Or was this all part of God’s Plan™? And if the divine intervention was part of the plan…did Lowe really have free will in the matter? What I mean to say is…if this was all predestined, wasn’t this sort of like God using Lowe to “show off” how powerful He is? Certainly, she had the free will to choose to pray or not…but in the end, isn’t this all inscribed in the Book of Life anyway? Couldn’t God just have acknowledged that Rowe and her family were devout Christians and did them a solid by moving the twister? Why did He have to wait for her to pray?
Third, how do we even know the god who diverted the tornado was God? There are many weather deities. This could have been Jupiter, Oya, Indra…the list goes on an on. Do “alternate” deities ever answer the prayer—even for the nonbelievers, just as a righteous thing to do?
Fourth, does this mean that the 11 people who have died in the recent Texas tornado spree could have been saved if only they had prayed and put their faith in Jesus? Does this all infer they were not as devout as Lowe? Does this infer that the eight people in nearby Garland who did die were not as religious?
How does God make these distinctions? Isn’t it enough to live a righteous life? Do you need to also specifically petition the Lord when you hear the tornado barreling down your driveway? Or can’t God just move on His own?
Anyway, these are the types of things I think about.