I was singing in the rain in downtown Dallas last week when I heard some nice tenor harmony behind me. When I turned around, I discovered the wise old man, soaked to the skin, but singing with gusto. We ducked under an awning in front of a storefront church and had a conversation.
“I didn’t expect to find you here, sir. What brings you to Dallas?”
“I’ve been studying tornadic activity in the region and it looks as if we are fixing to have one here. Isn’t this a toad strangler, though?”
I replied, “More like a gully washer, I think. Anyway, I think I felt a hit or two of hail.”
“Hail yes,” the wise old man said with a chuckle. “It will hail very soon and very hard and then the tornado will come. Don’t let it blow you away, Dan.”
“What do you plan to do to be safe from the storm, sir?”
“I’m staying in the homeless shelter in the basement of this church, Full Gospel Temple, and I think we’ll be safe there, if you care to join me.”
I thought about it for 30 seconds, evaluating my response. My pride did not want me to go down there with him. I didn’t want to be identified as homeless. But when I saw a vortex forming over the First National Bank building, I decided to follow my old acquaintance down there. As we walked down the shoddy stairs, he began to sing a variation of “All my Exes live in Texas.” It went something like this, “All these vortexes come across Texas; that’s why Dan hangs his hat in Arkansas.” I smiled at his quirky humor, but, quite frankly, I was worried about the storm and concerned about our destination.
We were greeted by a slicked up preacher in a wash-and-wear suit at the entrance of a huge room with army bunks, about half of which were occupied by sun-burned men in clean blue jeans and tee-shirts. The preacher shook my hand firmly and said, “Welcome to FGT. We have some sandwiches back there and a fresh urn of coffee—we’ll be having supper in just a moment. Make yourself at home and be blessed, my brother.” He called the wise old man by name, which I cannot divulge here, and asked if he would say a few words before we ate. This is what the wise old man said:
“The storm is raging in Dallas. We are safe down here below the Full Gospel Temple. If you are full of the gospel, I mean way deep down into the gospel, you are safe. You are in the secret place of the Most High. I’d like to introduce you to a friend from Arkansas, Dan Ford, who is not accustomed to this kind of place. Please let him know that to go up, you have to first go down deep where there is nourishment.” Weathered, bloodshot eyes were on me and I felt sorry and serene at the same time. While the storm was tearing things up outside, something on the inside of me got put back together. The wise old man has a way of accomplishing that kind of thing, spiritual repair, I mean.