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They'd already had to spring for three new roofs in four years, and another Oklahoma hailstorm was bearing down on them.
Oklahoma was my new home now that I was retired from my pastoral work, but as my wife, Ann, and I watched the news one night, I felt more like we were living in Egypt during the time of the 10 plagues.
“Another hailstorm,” I groaned when we saw the warning scroll by at the bottom of the television screen.
“Oh, no!” Ann said. I looked up sadly, thinking of our roof. Just that afternoon I’d admired it gleaming in the sun. It ought to gleam–it was practically brand new. Our third new roof in four years, in fact.
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Each one had been destroyed by brutal Oklahoma hail driven by raging wind. Chunks of ice the size of softballs had dinged the shingles, smashed the vents and destroyed the guttering. Not again, I thought. Please.
“A hailstorm is on its way toward Oklahoma City,” the weatherman confirmed. According to the weather map, we had 45 minutes until it was right on top of us. There was nothing more we could do to prepare. We’d already bought the strongest roof we could find.
Once that was in place, I’d anointed the home with oil and prayed over the whole parameter of our property, asking God to send angels to protect it. I watched the rest of the news and checked the clock. Thirty minutes to go before our new roof and my prayers would be put to the test.
I flipped to another TV station, hoping to hear that the storm had changed direction, but it was bearing down ever closer. Twenty minutes. Ten. It was time to bring out the big guns. “I’m going to pray Psalm Ninety-one,” I told Ann.
I stepped outside the front door. Heavy gray clouds filled the night sky to the northwest. I could already hear the hail coming, hitting everything in its path.
I recited from memory: “I dwell in the secret place of the most high and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I say of the Lord, you are my refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.”
The storm advanced like an invading army, the clouds rolling across the sky above our heads. Hail pelted the roof. Ann walked out to stand with me.
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“You will deliver us from the snare of the fowler and the deadly pestilence.” I imagined the Angel of the Lord spreading his wings out over our property. That would protect us for sure. “You will cover us with your feathers, and under your wings shall we trust.”
By now I was practically shouting over the storm. The sky was so dark I could barely see anything very clearly. But out in the yard, something dropped from that sky. Not hail, birds. Great big birds, gray and white, with black heads and wingspans three feet across. “I’ve never seen such a bird,” Ann said.
Nor had I. A whole flock descended on our lawn, perhaps a hundred or more. The birds landed on the grass, covering every inch. They tucked their heads under their wings for cover. The hail stopped. The storm moved off. The world went quiet.
The birds untucked their heads from their wings. Together they flew off into the sky. Ann and I went back inside. We decided that tomorrow would be soon enough to assess the damage.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny. “Let’s do this together,” Ann said. We stepped into the yard.