by Gina, Steppes of Faith
“He calms the storm so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet.”
Like millions of others, we had the unpleasant experience of enduring Hurricane Irma this week. I’ve lived in Florida for almost 25 years, so this wasn’t my first rodeo. I had already gone through four storms in a row in 2004; but with Irma, this was the first one that made me seriously nervous.
Irma gave me a renewed perspective about what’s truly important in life, a few lessons about what it means to be in the eye of a storm, both physically and metaphorically.
Lesson 1: The Power of Power
When you’re anticipating a Category 5 hurricane to head your way, you have to expect that you’re going to lose electrical power. It’s amazing all the things you must think about.
My husband, Dave, and I dotted every “I” and crossed every “T” while we prepared for the storm. There were a lot of games of “What If…?” to make sure we covered all our bases. After four days of preparing, as far as we were concerned, we were ready.
But then the power flickered off and we suddenly realized not only how often we use electricity but also the affect it has on our emotional balance.
Think about it. We use electricity for just about everything under the sun:
- Air conditioning
- Washing and drying clothes
- Coffee pots
- All electronic devices
- WiFi and the Internet
- Hair dryers
- Fish tanks
- Pool filters
- All cooking appliances
…Everything! How all too often in our modern society we take electricity for granted. Then, when it’s taken away, the loss can really mess with your head.
Satan and His Imaginary Storms
At first, having no power was no big deal. The first day after a hurricane goes by is always dry and gorgeous, so the heat wasn’t a big concern. We lit candles and cooked hot dogs on the grill. But, that night it started to get humid and stuffy again.
I began to wonder how long the power would be out. Rumors were flying that it could take up to ten days for power to be restored!
By the second day, it was really getting warm and I knew it would continue to get even warmer. Enduring the stifling Florida summer months without air conditioning is almost unbearable, especially if you’re not used to it.
I began to worry about my kids sleeping. I worried about keeping them clean. And, I worried about feeding them.
How was I going to cook? Hot dogs and hamburgers only go so far. We had lots of peanut butter, but I was worried that their school lunchbox standard would get boring and then they wouldn’t eat it anymore. I had to find a way to cook, but I didn’t have one.
Worry has a way of eating us up. Whether you’re going through a real or imaginary storm, we need to recognize that worry and fear are the work of Satan, the author of lies.
Jesus spoke specifically about it in Matthew 6:25-31, and it’s the verse I tried to keep in mind while I frantically tried to figure how to take care of my family for the long haul. In verse 31, He said,
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)
I had to put my trust in God- Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides- that He would provide what we needed to get through the warm, dark days.
And that’s when I learned lesson number two.
Lesson 2: The Power of Good Neighbors
I remember back when Dave and I were first interested in buying our house that our parents tried to talk us out of it. We kept telling them about how awesomingly amazing the neighbors were. Like good parents, though, they tried to caution us against buying a fixer-upper based on the neighbors instead of the condition of the house itself.
We bought the house anyway. We felt led by the Lord to do it. Now we know why.
While we all prepared for Hurricane Irma, the Lord created miracle after miracle for us.
Miracle #1: Plywood
First, through the power of social media, God connected us with an unknown neighbor who had lots of plywood stored in His garage. While thousands of people were standing in line at Home Depot waiting for long-delayed shipments, our newly found neighbor gave us as much plywood as we needed without asking for a dime. He even gave us a brand-new hurricane preparation hardware kit. Then, as incredible as all that was, we found out that he goes to our church!
It truly was a divine connection.
Miracle #2: Tools
Now we had the plywood, but we needed to cut it to fit our windows. Our little hand saw wouldn’t be enough. We needed a proper saw. It turned out one of our neighbors had a circular saw he could loan us for as long as needed.
Miracle #3: Hardware
We found after we cut the wood that we didn’t have enough screws. The screws in the hurricane kit didn’t always want to drill into our house’s cinder block. That’s when another neighbor suddenly came outside and told us he happened to have a different type of screws called tap-con screws. Perfect!
We got the plywood on the house and we were ready to go.
Then the lights went out. We were nervous, but God was still in action.
The Continuing Goodness of Neighbors
Never ever underestimate the power of good neighbors.
The neighbor with the circular saw also had a generator. Thankfully, he permitted us to plug into it so our refrigerated food wouldn’t spoil after the storm. And, he gave us a splitter so we could plug in a floor fan and charge our phones.
Despite the blessings, like a true mama bear, I was still worried. That’s when another neighbor who hadn’t lost power asked me if I would like to come over for a hot cup of coffee (don’t have to ask me twice!).
I stood in her kitchen cradling the hot coffee with tears streaming down my cheeks as I poured out my worry on her. This amazing friend then offered, basically, her entire house to us. We were free to shower there, wash clothes, cook, connect to the Internet so I could work…whatever we needed short of sleeping in their beds.
And after all that, she took my kids to a trampoline park and bought them lunch at McDonald’s to give them a break.
I found out that having good neighbors ̶ and being one ̶ is essential to weathering many storms in life.
God Will Always Accomplish His Good Purposes
Hurricane Irma proved that, yes, you can buy a house based on the character of the neighbors. Mind you, some of them have zero interest in hearing the Gospel. Not all of them were seeking to be the hands and feet of the Lord. Yet, the evidence of Him was crystal clear in their kindness.
Which proves that God can use anyone to accomplish His good purposes. He takes care of His children no matter what storm we’re experiencing.
Here’s another bit of Scripture I clung to while Irma went by:
“For He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up…Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known my name. He shall call upon Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life, I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.” Psalm 91:11-12, 14-16 (NKJ)
I remembered from the book of Daniel that God answers our prayers immediately, but sometimes evil principalities attempt to keep His angels from reaching us with the answer. I knew I had to be patient and trust that our loving God was watching over us with His angel army.
Once again, God proved Himself to me of His faithfulness and grace.
Lesson 3: The Power of Family
Surviving a hurricane or any storm takes a team effort, and the power of family quickly becomes evident. There were more lessons to be relearned.
We Make a Great Team. I learned that my husband is even more wonderful than I thought. He was simply fantastic through it all. His dedication to protecting his family, his quick-on-his-feet thinking, and his natural sense of fun truly made a difference for us all while Irma raged outside. And we both discovered again what a great team we make.
We Can Laugh More. This was my kids’ first hurricane and Satan attempted to fill them with fear, but the peace of God that passes all understanding (certainly way beyond mine) kept us all calm and things in perspective. They held it together and let God work His love in their hearts.
We kept our kids occupied as much as we could (remember, there were no video games to play, both a good and bad thing), so we played a lot of board games, and we all enjoyed some good, old-fashioned family time that ended up in some good, hearty laughing.
Because of Irma, we learned to laugh and love even more.
We Can Love More. Finally, we learned that when we come together as a family we can go through a scary event and come out on the other side understanding more of God’s grace while we hold onto each other and grow closer. We can lean on each other, support each other, and love each other better than ever.
The Biggest Lesson of All
I had to keep in mind how powerful God is. He is Jehovah, the Creator. The great I AM. Everything was made by Him and for Himself. He is stronger than any storm Satan could blow into our lives.
The bottom line, the overall lesson, I learned from Hurricane Irma is that no matter what the problem may be, no matter how big the storm or scary the circumstances, God is bigger. He is more powerful than any storm, which means if we keep our eyes on Him and we put our hope and trust in Him, we can weather anything.
A Category 5 hurricane is no match for our God. Neither is any emotional storm that rages in our hearts and minds. Before, during, and after any storm, He is still Jehovah Shammah, the Lord our Shepherd, the God Who is There. And He is Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace. The Lord is always faithful to His children.
“Then He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39 (NKJ)
How has God helped you to weather a storm? How has He answered your needs when you least expected it? What can we do to be better neighbors when they go through tough times? Share your thoughts and ideas with me here. I’d love to hear from you.
Noah had to endure a catastrophic storm that changed the world forever. To save his family and show his obedience to God, he built the infamous ark.
Have you ever wondered how Noah and his family cared for all those animals for two years? How did they cook? Where did they go to the bathroom? What did they do for fun? You can learn the answers to these questions and many more including exactly how they built the ark in this amazingly beautiful, hard cover book, “Journey Through the Ark Encounter,” created by Answers in Genesis and the folks at Ark Encounter. It’s an incredible resource for any Bible or home study.