There are some things that stick in your mind, and I guess because of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, I have been thinking about the storms I have been through. Storms with names like Ivan, Katrina, Erin, Opal, and Danny. There were many others, but the names escape me at the moment. I will never forget the day we made preparations for Hurricane Ivan on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. Sonya and I had made the decision to stay in our home and not evacuate because of the number of senior adults from our church and community that we knew would never leave. We knew that if we left, it could be days or weeks before we were able to get back in, and besides that, our house was like a fortress. Once our preparations were done, we sat on the front porch enjoying the cool breeze that always starts hours – sometimes days – before the storm hits. I remember it clearly. There was one of those spiders that are everywhere during that time of year that had built a web between the railing of the porch and the shrubs. He was a pretty good-sized spider, and I remember wondering if he would be there after the storm. He wasn’t. I remember laying on the mattress in our hallway trying to sleep listening to the wind rattle our storm door. I remember as the eye of the hurricane passed directly overhead stepping out to survey the damage and seeing stars in the sky. I remember hearing the roar of the winds in the distance as the eye-wall came closer. I remember the days without electricity; my kids coming to help us clean up the mess; the fun times sitting under the carport in the evenings just talking and eating all the food we had left in our freezer. I remember spending hours cleaning floors, walls, and chairs in the church fellowship hall so that we could have a worship service that Sunday morning. I remember it all as if it were yesterday.
Through it all, I was never afraid because we knew that God was protecting us. We had prayed earnestly for direction about staying or going, and we both sensed that God would have us stay. There was great peace in our hearts even when we received the phone calls from the Emergency Management Agency telling us that we were stupid and were going to die if we did not evacuate. Those were not the exact words, but it was the message they wanted to convey.
I know that millions of people are right now in the path of the storm, and I pray for God’s peace and wisdom to rest on you. I pray that you will trust our Sovereign Lord to guide you and protect you. And I pray that in the aftermath, you will be the salt and the light that your hurting neighbors will need to help them find their way to Jesus.