Hurricanes (Hardly Ever) Happen


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Hurricanes (Hardly Ever) Happen

The region where I live is all aflutter.

Hurricane Irma has been assaulting innocent islands in the south and is headed our way. For the past five days, Southwest Florida has purchased more gas, water, batteries and boards (no, not surf or paddle) than probably have been sold in the past five years.

People are literally running for their lives.

I don’t blame them. I’ll confess it’s a frightening situation, this first hurricane of my life. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of the ones that ripped us apart in the past, but to be here first hand, stocking up on canned foods and looking at empty shelves in grocery stores is a bit daunting.

Then there are the news reports.

Trees bent over in winds whipping San Juan. Cars crawling along like…well not like ants because ants move faster—more like snails taking naps. Buildings decimated with roofs scattered. The pictures say a thousand words and more.

But the tone of it all is fear.

And I hate fear. While healthy fear can be a good thing causing us to be diligent in preparation, fear can also cripple us into immobility. Or avoidance which keeps us from facing the storm until the very last devastating moment when disaster is upon us.

Fear grips us in ugly claws until our hearts pound in panic.

In the midst of this stormy circumstance, I think fighting fear may be a bigger issue than the pending potential destruction. The actual fight for our lives happens in our minds. And fear is like a monster demanding to be fed.

If we fuel it, it will grow.

I don’t know what will happen in the next few days. I’m sure numerous people will lose some if not all of their belongings. I grieve with Houston’s residents. Some may lose their lives or someone they love. I could be one of them.

But fear will not help me weather the storm well.

Preparation, peace and confidence in my God who created wind, rain and oceans will set me up to endure this storm. No matter what happens, He will be there with us to guide, protect and comfort us. He can turn any tragedy into something positive or helpful.

Already we’ve seen people reaching out in kindness.

Kindness is a characteristic of God. A man giving up a generator for a woman in need is laying down his life and looking to another person’s interests instead of his own. Another man volunteering his time to make sure people get water is giving of himself. We may think of those stories as sweet or nice, and they are, but really they are examples of God’s love.

I don’t know if those men know God personally.

But I do know that God is blessed when we exhibit his character. Serving, helping, giving all equal loving. God is love. And when we point to him as the source, he is pleased because he longs to see his love displayed to every single person.

Perhaps this post seems a bit random.

But as you read about kindness, did you forget I started with fear? Yeah, that’s what I though. When God’s love gets involved, fear gets pushed away. The Bible puts it this way,

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…     I John 4:18

If I know God loves me, then no matter what my situation, I don’t have to be afraid. He will bring the best for me even in the worst of circumstances. I know that’s easier to say than to experience all the time, but that has been my goal during this hurricane.

If it’s time to go, I will be with Jesus. If I get hurt, he will heal me at some point. If I am safe, I can help someone else. And in any case, I can trust him to hold me in the storm if I keep my eyes on him.

Looking Deeper


It’s been a rough week.

Symptoms of illness have flared again, leaving me discouraged and depressed. In addition, current circumstances are less than desirable. Can I confess that as a result, I’ve been having a hard time getting excited about Christmas?

But God has a way of flipping my perspective. 

Two days ago, I sat on a massive piece of driftwood, looking out over the expanse of our beautiful bay. My friend and I talked, cried and prayed. As I gazed at the bay, I felt a whisper from God.  What if I have something deeper for you this year? Are you willing to ask? Look for it? Find it?

In the moment, I didn’t voice those thoughts, but as the past couple of days have unfolded, I’ve come back to that moment.

What does Christmas mean this year? DSC_0002

It’s never really been about the materialism. Our family focuses most on the birth of Jesus, and our gift giving is a reflection of all he’s given us. But each year I find God digging deeper in my heart to turn up a nugget of spiritual gold; a treasure beyond even the best intentions of the season.

Last year, I was struck by Emmanuel – God with Us.

Everywhere I turned; the message danced around my head and evidenced itself in numerous ways. I needed God with me, and I knew with great confidence that he was. His presence was imperative to my existence and well-being so he showed up all over my life. His assurance dogged me this year.

What does he have for me this year?

I’m asking, seeking, contemplating. I expect it will hit me with a suddenness that will produce a rush of revelation and tears. And because of this anticipation, my heart toward the coming holiday has done an about face. Today, a seemingly impossible situation that unexpectedly changed reminded me that my God can do the unbelievable in a matter of moments. And nothing will be the same.

I remembered the words of James “…you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” (4:14) In a moment, everything could change.

Waiting for that moment with anticipation this Christmas.

 

What about you? What does Christmas mean when you look deeper?