The Rock and the Storm

The tornado was bearing down on our house, and nothing could stop it.

Posted in , Jul 28, 2011

The rock was bigger than a watermelon, and when I uncovered it in the field I was plowing that November, it was smudged with black earth. In the spring, I came back with a power scoop to take it away, and the winter rains and snows had washed it clean. I stared. Right on the face of that big, dark boulder, a pink cross stood out, clear as if it had been chiseled.

"Why, that's the cross of Christ," I said to myself. "This isn't going to any rock pile. It's a holy thing!"

I hauled it up to the house to show my wife Bun, and she felt the same way I did. We got to thinking about God telling the Israelites to keep a sign of their faith written on the doorposts of their houses, and we decided to set it up by our door.

Everybody who saw it thought the rock was unusual—even before we had the tornado in August 1979. Bun and I could hear the storm banging in the distance while we watched the news on TV. "Well, folks," the weatherman said, "there's a tornado watch, and my best advice is to keep an eye on the sky."

"I'll just go out and take a look," I told Bun.

And, by golly, that thing was coming right at us—a wide, black funnel cutting through my cornfield, chewing up everything in its path, moving southwest to northeast the way tornados generally do.

Bun and I hid in the cellar and then the twister was on us, shaking the doors like demons from hell, the noise like an ungodly scream. We prayed. Our neighbors saw what happened.

Not once but twice that tornado came right up to our door where the rock with the cross of Christ sat—and each time it backed away!


In Deuteronomy 8:1, Moses says that if you keep God's commandments you will possess the land that He promised to give to your fathers. Robert Barr will vouch for the truth of that. Bob grew up in Iowa's black-earth country. His father had a good-sized farm, but during the Depression the place was lost to creditors. Bob was only 17 at the time, but by thrift and hard work, he was soon able to buy back a small part of what had been his dad's acreage. And right about that time, Bob married Lavonne Barton, his high school sweetheart. Side by side, they began working their land. The going was tough at first, what with drought and dust storms and depressed crop prices (8¢ for a bushel of corn), but as time went on they were slowly able to buy back plots of Bob's father's land. They kept at it for nearly 50 years, and by the time they retired from active farming, just a few years ago, they had regained all the land that had been Bob's father's, just as Moses said. Later in the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses says something else that Bob can attest to. Moses says that the land the Lord gives will be "land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron." (v. 9, RSV) With the strong-as-iron "rock of the cross" sitting by their farmhouse door (see photo above), Bob and Lavonne Barr know that the Lord fulfills His Word.

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