Faith in the Storm – The Yellow Hammer

My faith in the face of the tornado looks like a yellow-handled hammer. On the night of the tornado I drove to town and began looking for people. At first, people I knew, then I just ran with strangers and helped them dig for people they knew. Early in the digging, as I walked down Oliver Street, something bright caught my eye. In a strangely clear spot, in the middle of the carnage and tree limbs, power lines and house rubble, I looked down and saw a yellow-handled hammer. It seemed out of place in the middle of the street, but important. “I might need this,” I thought. I felt sort of like I was stealing it, but carried that hammer all night and used it to claw through debris. I won’t say for sure that God put that hammer there for me to find, but it has become a symbol to me of faith and future. God never said that he would magically make the tragedies go around us or go away; he said he would be with us in their midst. God didn’t say we would never face death or destruction. He said, “I’ll offer life beyond death and give you the strength to rebuild.” My yellow-handled-faith-hammer became a symbol of God giving me a job to do and the strength to do it. “This is a big mess, but start rebuilding, Aaron.” My yellow-handled-faith-hammer was my marching orders to do my small part to rebuild a city, one nail, one home, one school, one church, one hospital, one life at a time. I still feel like this hammer doesn’t belong to me. So, to whomever it belongs, it’s yours for the asking.

Aaron Brown, Lead Pastor, Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, Joplin, Missouri


3 replies
  1. Ann Courtney
    Ann Courtney says:

    I wonder if it reminds you of the yellow-handled hammer Jim Courtney always carried on mission trips.

  2. Merle Allen
    Merle Allen says:

    We were at a vacant rental home that we owned the evening of the Joplin tornado. We heard the tornado warning on the radio as we were leaving the property to go to our home. A neighbor in the rental next door was outside and we stopped and told him that I had forgotten to lock the back door of our rental house next door. I told him to go to that house if there was a tornado, since it had a basement. I called him after the tornado and he said he was in the basement of our rental house as I suggested but that our two rental homes were gone. I was always very careful to lock the doors on vacant rental property but not that evening. I have felt it was the influence of God’s power that made me not lock that door. It saved the neighbor’s life.

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