As hurricane Matthew edged its way up the eastern seaboard, my family and I were at relative ease. Life was fairly routine. Sure, we had secured loose furniture and the like, but we really weren’t predicting much more than an average NC thunderstorm. Although earlier reports had predicted a hard hit on Wilmington and the surrounding area, the latest forecasts had the storm moving back out to sea with a possible loop back toward Florida. A friend of mine from the Sunshine State, with deep ties to North Carolina, said confidently, “It looks like it’s going to miss you.”
As time and the howling winds would inevitably disclose, the storm had other plans. As I type by candlelight using the precious energy stored in my MacBook battery – on our third day without electricity – I am reminded that life is anything but predictable. People have lost their lives. Our little community is almost completely surrounded by flooding and washed out roads. Two major Interstates have sections that are closed. Trees, shingles, siding and other objects litter our streets and yards, and folks line up for blocks in both directions to get a little gas for their car or generator. It’s after 7:30 PM and the curfew is now in full effect.
I am also reminded, however, that drastic and immediate changes to our normal day-to-day patterns can help us re-evaluate our priorities and set new courses. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned in the storm.
There’s Always a Reason to be Thankful
Although we lost one of our trees, shook off a bunch of shingles, have some inside water damage and a little spoiled food, the irreplaceables are intact. My wife, two daughters, church family, five cats, one dwarf rabbit and one horse are all safe and sound. Of course there is much more I could add to the list, but the point is, there is always something to be thankful for.
Planning Only Goes So Far
The Bible says that a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). While I was busy thinking about my Sunday message, God knew that I would never get a chance to preach it. The good news is, that even in the midst of the storm, He is still in control.
Storms Reveal Our Strengths
Although we certainly suffered some damage when the big bad wolf named Matthew came knocking at our door, I was pleased at how well everything held up.
More importantly, I am always proud of my wife and daughters, but this situation has given me a new perspective. I have not heard them complain once during this whole ordeal. I was going to play a movie on an old tablet last night to give them something to do, but my youngest said, “I can go a few days without TV.” Can’t we all? That was after she ate a cold hot dog from the cooler instead of asking me to put it on the grill. (Which I would have gladly done. 😉
I did miss the Presidential debate – oh wait that should probably go in the reasons to be thankful.
Storms Reveal Our Weaknesses
Teri and I have an old Select Comfort mattress that has needed replacing for quite some time – especially my side. Most nights, I wake long enough to hit the button to pump it back up where it is starting to get too low. We have often talked about the need to replace it, but… well you know.
The first night the lights went out, I wasn’t bothered at all. Time to catch up on some sleep, since there was not much else to do. When I reached for my mattress remote, it hit me. I can’t pump up my bed… Hmmm… Maybe we should have replaced it by now, after all. After two nights, I was resting on the foundation – wait did I say resting? Okay, I was laying on the foundation wishing I had an old fashioned spring mattress – even a worn one.
Storms Can Stimulate Creativity
Since confession is good for the soul, I must admit that it has been sometime since I have picked up my acoustic guitar. I have thought of playing keys, but alas everything I have is now electric – and not the battery kind. Tonight I pulled out my acoustic and played. It felt good to reconnect to a part of myself that is sometimes easy to forget is there.
On another note, with a little thought and a long power extension, I connected my power inverter to the van and the drop cord to the mattress motor. “Oh yea baby! Tonight is going to be much better.” 🙂
I would love to hear some of the ways that storms – whether they be literal or figurative – help you re-evaluate your life and direction. In the meantime, thank God for the storms – and that He is still God in the midst of them.