"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:27 ESV
Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I have weathered quite a few storms over the years. I have seen many hurricanes come and go, but the one I remember most vividly is Hurricane Fredrick in 1979. Living in Mobile, Alabama, we were right in the path of the storm's most powerful effects. Winds blew, rain fell, and a lot of damage took place.
The aftermath of Hurricane Fredrick was an experience unlike anything I had ever experienced. Electricity was lost and would not return for us for almost three weeks. Days were filled with cutting trees and removing debris, sitting in the dark a lot, and taking a lot of cold showers (we had an electric water heater). While I was not really thinking about learning lessons at the time, later reflection would reveal quite a few life lessons throughout the experience.
Storms bring out the worst in people
While everyone in our area was dealing with power outage, water shortage, and damages, there was no shortage of opportunistic low-lifes who gouged people with crazy high prices for ice and water. Lines were long as people waited for scarce opportunities to buy ice, water, generators, and chain saws.
Storms bring out the best in people
Even though there were some dishonest people taking advantage of others during difficult circumstances, there were plenty of others working together and helping a neighbor get through hard times. I saw communities come together throwing block parties. Neighborhoods would empty quickly thawing freezers and cookout tons of meat and eat together and have great fellowship.
Storms remind me what is most important
While I was "suffering" without electricity in the humid heat of south Alabama and taking cold showers, I realized how little I missed watching television and talking on the phone. Every night families and neighbors were playing card games, board games, and having lengthy, meaningful conversations. While I most certainly missed air conditioning and a little hot water, it really was not that bad. In fact, it was a good thing to have some of the biggest distractions removed from my life for a little while.
In the Bible, God used storms for His purposes on many occasions. It was a storm the first alerted Jonah that something was terribly wrong as he ran away from God's call on his life. It was a storm that taught the New Testament disciples what it means to have faith in God, and revealed to them the power of Christ over nature. Without storms we would never learn to appreciate the peace and calm. Without storms we would fail to appreciate the true power of God. Without storms we would fail to appreciate our fellow human beings and the intrinsic value of human life. There are many things to learn from storms (of all kinds).
As of this writing, it is early Sunday morning (October 8, 2017). Tropical storm Nate is showering our community with wind and rain, and morning church services have been cancelled while folks ride out the storm. Don't waste the storm. Gather your family this morning and read the following passage of scripture:
"And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:37-41 ESV
Discuss with your family things the disciples must have learned that day. What did they learn about Jesus during that experience? What did they learn about each other? Pray together. Give thanks to the Lord for protection and provision. Give thanks to the Lord... even for the storm.
The storm will pass through and we will gather this evening for worship at 6PM. We did not cancel church today. We just postponed it until a little later. It will be Sunday Morning at night... complete with praise band and the choir. Gather your family and come gather with your church family for a great time of praise and worship.
As always, I love you and cherish the privilege to be your pastor and friend. See you tonight!