All Christians believe that our only hope of salvation lies in surrendering ourselves to Jesus.
Every once in a while, we see people doing exactly that in a moment of extreme desperation and terror.
On April 4, a group of three storm chasers found themselves trapped in a strong tornado near Lewistown, Illinois. They screamed and begged Jesus for help. Cameras rolled throughout the ordeal.
Tanner Charles, one of the three chasers, posted the video to YouTube earlier this month, attributing the delay to how traumatic the situation was.
“In the end, I’m just incredibly grateful that we made it out alive,” Charles said in the introduction to the tornado video.
Indeed, in a span of less than four minutes, Charles and his fellow chasers went from thinking themselves safe to thanking Jesus for saving them.
For anyone who has watched storm-chasing videos, this one will look familiar in many ways.
It opened with the three chasers in a car driving toward the expected storm.
They looked and sounded confident. In the passenger seat, one chaser had a laptop open to four different images of live weather maps. In the backseat, a storm chaser named Riley predicted that they would be fine. They knew what they were doing.
This, of course, gave the illusion of control.
The skies darkened. Rain and wind intensified, but they knew where to find the storm and, most importantly, how to escape it.
Less than a minute later, they spotted the tornado.
“Wooooooo!” one chaser yelled, no doubt excited that they had a chance to capture excellent footage.
But then they began to sense danger.
“Tanner, be cognizant. It’s coming towards us!” someone yelled at Charles, the driver.
The chasers then moved to a safer location, they thought. They estimated the storm was still a mile away.
But the storm grew closer and wider — and the chasers did not have their escape planned as well as they thought. Charles began asking about where to turn. Everything intensified.
Then, the four-minute journey from overconfidence to terror and finally to gratitude began.
“We’re actually fine. It’s gonna go straight. It’s gonna go south of us,” Charles said.
“These winds don’t make it seem like it’s OK right now,” Riley said.
Seconds later, a power pole nearly fell on the car. In another few seconds, a flash of light signaled another collapsing pole.
Then came the first prayer.
“Lord Jesus, please protect us in the name of Jesus,” one chaser said.
Two more flashes followed, and in a few seconds, they realized that downed power lines blocked the road ahead.
“We’re stuck. We’re stuck,” one of them said.
Then began a frantic search for the tornado. It was bearing down on them from behind. They could not drive, and they had only a few seconds to make a decision. With nowhere to go, they rolled up the car windows and prayed.
“Thank you, Jesus, for protecting us in the name of Jesus,” one chaser prayed only moments before impact. “And I thank you that you’re gonna protect us right now in the name of Jesus.”
“Please, dear Lord. We are in it,” another chaser said.
Moments later, the roar began.
Violent wind blasted the car. All three chasers put their heads down. Some of what they said became inaudible.
One cry, however, could be heard amid the roar.
Again and again, for more than a minute of sheer terror, they begged the Lord for help.
Finally, they sensed that the worst had passed.
“It’s done. Please, Lord, let it be done. Please, God.”
They made it through alive.
“Oh, thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,” Charles wept.
The storm appeared to do serious damage to the vehicle, crushing the roof and blowing out the windows.
The National Weather Service confirmed a “long-track EF-3 with peak winds estimated near 160 mph near Lewistown” on April 4.
As a notable coincidence, that date also marked the 49th anniversary of the April 3-4, 1974, Super Outbreak, the most violent tornado outbreak in recorded U.S. history. Those tornadoes killed 335 people and injured more than 6,000 others.
The three chasers in the above video, however, thought neither of peak winds nor of coincidences. In that vehicle, with their lives in danger, they thought only of Jesus.
Moreover, they cried to him. Again and again, they begged for his help.
Their prayers strike us all the more forcefully for the illusion of control that preceded them.
After all, these chasers knew how to chase. According to a disclaimer at the beginning of the video, they had “14+ years of experience.”
None of it mattered.
Thus, for the chasers, survival meant gratitude to the divine hand that preserved them.
For the rest of us, such videos serve as a reminder that we must always and everywhere surrender ourselves to Jesus’ care.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.