Hurricane

Hurrication

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With another tropical disturbance barreling towards the Gulf of Mexico this past weekend, we packed up and headed out… to the beach. That probably seems like a strange choice, but we had the vacation planned and to be fair, at the time of the decision all the projections for the storm were aimed at the heart of New Orleans. So Thursday night we all crammed into the minivan, handed out the kids’ amazon fires (our DVD player has been rendered useless due to the countless coins shoved into the slot), and took off towards the panhandle of sunny Florida. Destination: condo in Navarre. Friday was fun. Though the ocean was too rough to enter, we still managed to squeeze in a relaxing day of playing in the sand and swimming in the pool. Anxiety levels grew that evening, however, as the projected path of Hurricane Nate crept eastward towards Mobile Bay and Pensacola.

Saturday morning we faced an uncomfortable decision. Though it looked like we would be okay in Navarre, any drastic last minute shift in the storm could put us in a bind. Rather than take the risk of losing power with three toddlers, we decided to buy cheap insurance in the form of a hotel room a little further east in Panama City – just in case. Thus commenced a weird day of watching the kids swim in freezing pool in the rain (while dealing with a pesky virus) that ultimately culminated in the five of us crammed into one bed with my son waking up and puking on my wife in the middle of the night while wind and rain pelted the window. It was a strange vacation.

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Sunday morning we headed back to Navarre – a pit stop on the way back towards New Orleans. Nate was travelling so fast that the eye of the storm was already far to our north, though remnants of high gusts and heavy rain remained on the backside (the storm’s hiney we deliriously told Sawyer, giggling in sleep deprivation). We arrived just before noon.

The sight on the beach was breathtaking – ferocious waves pounding the pier, ocean rabidly foaming at the mouth. It was picturesque scene of the unbridled power of nature. It probably wasn’t too far off from a stormy situation that Jesus’s disciples faced crossing the Sea of Galilee:

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 NLT)

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By Rembrandt - www.gardnermuseum.org : Home : Info : Pic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6812612

“Anglican clergyman John Clowes commented that by asking the question ‘Why are you so afraid?’, Jesus was asking his disciples to explore in their own minds the cause and origin of fear, so they would realize that all fear has its roots in natural affection and thought, separate from spiritual affection and thought.”[1]

Fear is not of God:

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Let’s break that down a little further.

 

Power

As if the power a storm wields isn’t hard enough to comprehend, imagine the power required to STOP one in its tracks. Oh, and that raging ocean? God can fit it in the palm of his hand:

“Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?” (Isaiah 40:12 NLT)

 

Love.

No love is greater than that which is purely unconditional.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8 NLT)

Enough said.

 

Self discipline.

In relation to the wonderful mystery of the incarnation in which he is both fully God and fully man, Jesus faced very real temptations – and emerged the vanquishing victor.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)

 

God is powerful. God is love. God is without blemish. And if we abide in Christ, God will work those qualities through us.

 

- Nicolas C. Day

 

On a side note - I cannot wait for this hurricane season to come to an end.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calming_the_storm#cite_note-8

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Houston

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As I watched the red and yellow spots on the weather radar rotate in a slow counterclockwise spiral of death over Houston, I thought about my father – 350 miles away on the second story of his house, watching the water ebb and flow on the floor below. As my concern grew, so too did my feelings of utter powerlessness to stop the incessant deluge of rain. This wasn’t my first time having to trust God through a situation of which I had no control. Standing in the hospital room for all three deliveries of my children incited similar feelings. Then there was the time that my youngest daughter was in the hospital with RSV at two weeks of age, after a coughing attack that momentarily stopped her breathing. This was, however, my first exercise in “surrendering out of futility” in connection to a natural disaster.

The process for me was similar in all cases. It began with increasingly maddening frustration until it reached a breaking point with an acknowledgement that I could not do anything in my own power – which finally allowed me to let go and offer it to God in prayer. But trusting the work of God’s hands means trusting Him with the result – and that is the part that is scary. Nevertheless, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3 NKJV).

Thankfully my dad was to emerge safely from the flood of Hurricane Harvey. Others were not as fortunate. The toll of those who tragically lost their life continues to rise as the waters clear. The number of those who lost almost everything in their house will be measured in the tens of thousands. Even the ones that made it out “dry” will be branded with emotional and mental imprints for a lifetime.

Yet, amidst it all, I am encouraged by the loving, resilient response of the body of Christ. Faithful followers saddled up with the "Cajun Navy," trailing their boats across Louisiana to assist in the rescue efforts. Volunteers are flooding in from all over the country to assist in gutting flooded houses. I can't even begin to count the number of schools and churches that are accepting donations. I heard of one group filling new purses with "woman stuff" to hand out as just another example of the countless, creative ways that believers have chosen to “…bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 ESV). Their selfless actions help to strengthen my faith through the storm by reflecting the love of a perfect King.

My heart is heavy for those affected by the storm. I wish that I could personally restore each and every situation. I have to remind myself that there is only One with the power to do so – and He has done so on the Cross. From now until the day of His return, our Lord beckons us instead to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 NKJV) because although we may be powerless to stop a hurricane, there is no force that can stop the love of Christ.

 

- Nicolas C. Day

 

 

 

 

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