Last Christmas a friend gave me a picture with words from a song we used to sing as children; ”With Christ in the Vessel I can Smile at the Storm” Little did we know how appropriate the picture was for this year!
At the end of January I closed a “Let’s Get Real” Conference with the question “Are you ready for the unexpected storms this year?”. It seems I’ve been writing about storms every since. “Storms within and storms without” as Paul writes. What we have just experienced in Florida was definitely a storm “without” but one that triggered storms “within” too.
I’ve lived in Florida for 21 years and been through several hurricane warnings and some actual hurricanes. I’m probably too cynically British about storms having grown up with “gale” force winds and storms often tearing down trees and ripping up roofs across the UK. But Irma caught everyone’s attention, including mine as we watched it destroy Caribbean islands before turning to Florida.
An uneasy air of impending doom fell across Florida as hourly reports showed Irma heading our way with an expected catastrophe, and the State raced to evacuate and prepare people.
On the morning of the storm I walked around my neighborhood wondering what it would look like the following morning. People asked -”are you prepared?” But what does that mean? How do you know if you’re prepared? How can you be totally prepared for winds and rain over 150mph? Reports from the Caribbean showed the power of Irma destroying 90% of Barbuda, sweeping a 2 year old boy out of a woman’s arms to his death, and completely destroying airports, homes and livelihoods in St Martin, the Virgin Islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico. These people had prepared to the best of their ability but nothing could stand against the power of this storm.
Three days before Irma hit Florida, I read two scriptures which took on a whole new meaning for me in light of the storm:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.””Matthew 7:24-27
“But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” Genesis 6:18
It struck me there was no indication in either passage that the storms and floods would not come, but rather that they would come – and they would be bad! I had a sense too that we were not going to avoid the storm heading to Florida, it was not going to blow out to sea like Matthew last year. But scripture gave the assurance that whatever the outcome, with Christ in the vessel – we could smile at the storm.
A woman who lost her home in the Caribbean testified to News reporters “We have lost everything but we are still here. We are trusting God and He will take care of us.” The woman had a smile on her face – the wind and rain had beaten her house and destroyed it, but she had built her life on the Rock and she could still smile at the storm. The power in her was greater than the power in Irma.
As Irma headed through Florida the rain beat down, the floods came up, the wind howled and eventually the power went out; the lights went off, the TV was silent and the internet shut down. Sitting in candlelight listening to the wind and rain beating against the windows, a brighter light filled my home. Without the light and noise of the outside world, God’s presence and His light shone brighter. I suddenly felt overwhelmed with thanks for peace in the storm, to Him say “be still and know that I am God”. I think I slept through most of the storm smiling, thinking of being with Noah’s family in the ark:-)!
Thank you to all who prayed and sent encouraging words for us before, during and after the storm. I lost power for only 24 hours and have no apparent damage to my home. We did have to postpone a Workshop but it is re-scheduled Lord willing for Sept 22 – 24 but our LUV Center sustained no damage.
I think all of us in Orlando feel un-deserved favor that we came out of the storm lightly compared to many other areas. But friends and neighbors have lost roof tiles and sustained some water damage, and many are still without power. Please pray for them especially during this time of high temperatures and humidity. Pray for the men working hard to get power back to everyone.
We thank God for His mercy in stopping a catastrophe in Florida. But perhaps the experience with Irma will cause us to pray with more more urgency for those who are building their lives on sand, and to pray with compassion for those affected by other recent disasters; in Texas and Louisiana; in the Caribbean; in Mexico – (those without food and power after the 8.1 earthquake); in Bangladesh where 1/3 of the country has been under water from Typhoon Mora, and in India where over 500 died and 3 buildings collapsed in Mumbai from flood damage.
Prayer: I covet your prayers for us individually and as a ministry:
To be available to pray with and minister to those affected by trauma in this and similar crisis situations.
That we will pray more urgently and fervently for those who are building their lives on sand – Not on Jesus Christ.
That we will continue to help women build their lives on the solid Rock so they need not fear the future.
Pray for our Workshop, Sept 22-24 and the women who come hungry to grow in knowing God and making God known to others.
Pray for Rhonda hoping to complete her 6th workshop on Sept 22, but whose husband is recovering from a staff infection which needed special care during the storm.
- Pray that with Christ in the vessel we will all learn to smile at the storms
Thank you for your love, your support and your prayers that help us grow in faith and not faint in the storms.
In His love