November 11, 2002

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Sunday night and Monday morning, I was on the road, traveling from Carbondale Illinois to Margate, Florida. It is a journey of 1136 miles. I traveled I24 to Chattanooga, and then I75 to Florida from there.

I had intended to depart my Father’s home at 3 PM, but my Father desired that I remain a while longer to look over some rather ancient family pictures. Following my Father’s instructions led me into some trouble later. If you will, my Father led me into the storm.

At about 11 PM Central time, I began to encounter storm conditions. There had been no natural, radio warnings regarding anything imminently severe. I was driving past Manchester Tennessee, and the weather was getting rough. At about midnight, near Monteagle, TN, I sighted two airborne funnel clouds nearby, experienced high winds and driving rains.

I immediately prayed for wisdom, and the Lord told me to keep going.

The storm lifted just North of Chattanooga, TN, and I drove to South Chattanooga, where I had intended to change drivers and allow my 20 year old daughter to take the wheel. I thought that I was out of trouble, and decided to rest for awhile. I had not taken the Lord’s word to me, to “keep on going” literally, but interpreted it to mean that I was to keep going until I was out of trouble. After a 30 minute break and a coffee, she was still sound asleep and would not be roused. It was 2 A.M. Eastern time, so I decided to stay at the wheel and continue on toward the south.

Thirty minutes later, near Marietta GA, I was in the middle of a deluge, and very near a large tornado. The winds were high, and I was blinded by a wall of flying water, cast off by a passing truck, for about five seconds. Once again, I was crying out to the Lord, and He was still instructing me to keep going, which I could not understand. If I had changed drivers, my daughter would have been at the wheel for that ordeal. God had mercy upon us and caused a deep slumber to come over her. Praise you Jesus!

At about this time, the radio began to report the weather incidents. I was amazed at how useless the natural means of warning through AM and FM radio had been. They had been saying nothing for about two hours. Now, they reported the disappearance of the town of Mossy Grove, TN. That did not surprise me, given what I had just seen pass in front of me near Monteagle, which is directly west of Mossy Grove. They were also warning of another tornado on the ground near Marietta GA, which I had just passed through. Wow! I experienced two tornado incidents in one night. Then, I got the kicker.

There was a two hundred mile line of tornado/thunderstorms, stretching from Northeast to Southwest from my position in Atlanta GA, and they were moving at 55 mph due east. These storms stretched toward the South and West, all the way to the Georgia state line. My daughter later said it was like being in a living video game, with only one life! We had to run that whole gauntlet to escape. If we stopped, the storm would overtake us.

It was now quite apparent to me why the Lord was telling me to keep on going, against my natural instinct to pull over and quit driving for the night. In whatever Georgia city I might choose to stop in, a dangerous storm was set to pass over it. If I would obey the Lord, and drive on, I could outrun the line of approaching storms. Obedience to the Lord would have delivered me previously, but I stopped South of Chattanooga, and reaped a second storm. I was not about to make another mistake. I resolved to drive, ahead of the advancing line of storms, to Florida.

I continued south, and was apprised by another radio report that there was a twister on the ground, in Southwest GA, at Bainbridge, traveling East. I was north and east of that position. Once again, I was tempted to stop where I was, but I remembered the instruction of the Lord to keep on going, and I calculated that I would pass to the South of that twister by just a whisker if I kept going South, and so, I continued to obey the Lord, and made it to Florida in safety.

At dawn, all the news reports started to come in. 70 tornados, 35 killed, hundreds missing. I had been in two of the worst storms I had ever seen on the same night.

I later reflected upon how the Lord led me into that first storm. Had I followed his instructions to the letter, I would not have reaped the second storm, but the Lord had mercy on me in spite of my error and gave me help and further instruction.

This experience lasted from 11 PM Central to 6 A.M. Eastern time, or about six hours. It was a time of being in constant peril and prayer for me and my five children, aged 8 to 20. I had much time to meditate upon the images of STORM and SEISMOS. From that experience, I concluded that when our NATIONAL STORM occurs, we are all appointed to experience one storm. Failure to follow the Lord’s instruction will cause you to reap further storms. Those with no relationship with the Lord will have no recourse but to follow natural instincts, which might have gotten me and my family killed along with many others on Monday night, for my natural instinct was to stop in Tennessee, and then later, in Tifton GA.

Natural instincts will get you killed in what is coming. There is a way that seems right to a man that leads to destruction.

Praise the Lord!

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Stephen L. Bening

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