Storm Warnings: They’re Not Over Yet!
So, what has captured your attention on television or on your computer this week? Unless you’ve been under a very large rock, surely you’ve been fascinated by the coverage of Superstorm Sandy. Even though I had lots to do around the house Monday evening, I sat on the couch, mesmerized by the scenes of the storm making landfall with devastating winds and rain. That’s right – a hurricane, in the northeast, in late October. How bizarre!
Isn’t it ironic that my daughter flew from her apartment in New York City to our home, in Florida, to escape a hurricane? And isn’t it strange to see places like Times Square, Fifth Avenue, the New York Stock Exchange, and Central Park suffering the effects of something usually reserved for tropical islands or southern coastal states?
While watching the coverage, I was quickly reminded of the destruction (lesser, of course) here in Florida from the three hurricanes of 2004. And, before long, as I did eight year ago, I began to consider the analogies of storms to our very lives.
- Build your life on the strong foundation – If I were to describe my house, I would tell you about its architecture, color, landscaping and interior decorating. I wouldn’t give a thought to its foundation. However, whether we’re building a house or a life, the foundation we choose is the most important feature when the storms blow hard. Proverbs 24:3 tell us, “by wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” And Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that the only way to build a strong foundation is to obey his words.
- What are our prized possessions? When severe weather threatens our home, what do we take extra care to protect? Photo albums? Electronics? Pets? I remember the homes in Lakeland that were ripped apart during the hurricanes of ’04, exposing their belongings. And then I saw the macabre scene of 100 homes burned to the ground in Queens during Sandy’s wrath. We think that all of our stuff is so important, yet, in the aftermath of a storm, what’s the first question we’re asked? “Hey, are you guys okay??” Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 12:14, “What I want is not your possessions, but you.” Those things we feel define us can be gone in one gust of wind. If we learn nothing else, we should remember to hold our possessions loosely!
- Our rot is worse than we realize – I lost five majestic oaks during the hurricanes. Mistakenly, I thought they were healthy. However, when the winds blew, they snapped and toppled like balsa wood, revealing filthy rot that was previously undiscovered. Likewise, we live in a broken world with the damage and consequences of sin all around us. And we are often worse off than we care to admit. That’s why we need the Gospel, and why we need to “preach” it to ourselves daily.
- Community is especially valuable during the storms – I’ll never forget the first person I saw moments after the raging winds of Hurricane Charley. Jamie Brown, my good Samaritan neighbor and friend was climbing through the debris on my driveway, chainsaw in hand, making sure we were safe. He then went house to house, repeating this kind act. Soon thereafter, we made new friendships with neighbors we’d never met as we gathered in the street to survey the damage, and to commiserate. This same sense of community is happening even now on the streets of Manhattan, as even New Yorkers (!) join arms to survive the chaos. The storms expose what is necessary everyday – we are not designed to live as islands. We need people; we, daily, need face-to-face encouragement, accountability, and just plain help.
Blog reader, make no mistake – the storms of life are real, and they are powerful, altering the way we live and think. Some of you are, even now, bearing the oppressive weight of the swirling dark clouds. For others, the gloom is just on the horizon, preparing to strike with intensity.
So, what’s your storm preparedness?
Realize storms are different. Don’t think all your storms will be the same or that you’ll feel the same during and after them. Your mind and heart will be affected differently. Sink your roots deeply in Him to withstand the winds and rain.
Are you stocked up on food? “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3) Nourish yourself daily!
What’s your power source? With electricity, we stayed home. When it was lost, we went elsewhere. Know that our power source is Jesus and stay plugged-in to Him. Stop wandering and depending on things that don’t sufficiently energize.
They make a mess of things. The storms of life will affect everything, because they rip right at your heart. The debris can be widespread and change your landscape.
However…God is at work, God is full of grace and mercy, and God is sovereign. Surviving the storms, no matter the intensity, is clearly possible by relying on Jesus — by casting all of our cares on Him. Don’t fall to the temptation of the evil one, who would lead us to think, “If things go well for me, I’ll be happy.” Rather, embrace the truth of, “Things went well for me on the cross, so I’ll be happy.”
Finally, stock up on the Word so you’re ready for the storm, and keep heading to the light in the midst of it. And don’t forget to contract with God for the debris clean-up.
He’s also a weather junkie who spends a lot of time preparing his yard’s landscaping for the next hurricane.