After the Storm
Philippians 4: 4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
An entire community heaved a collective sigh of relief and breathed short billowy breaths of thankfulness. Words of gratitude twisted and spiraled around every conversation. “What could have been” was a mantra repeatedly spoken everywhere. We were spared the worst. The worst hurricane in the history of the United States had taken aim at our state, and more importantly our west coast community, and played a deadly game of chicken with us. We spent over a week anticipating the arrival of Hurricane Irma. The 48 hours before her arrival were a whirlwind activity: boarding windows, buying water and nonperishable food supplies, stocking the house with flashlights and batteries. The next 24 hours were spent waiting and watching the strength and track of the storm as it moved west across the Caribbean. Irma remained a Category 4 with the strongest part of it tracking straight for us carrying with her 155 mile an hour sustained winds.
As Irma pounded Cuba and the Keys, I knelt washing out the bathtub in order to fill it with water in case we lost power and our ability to our flush toilets and I prayed one last time, “Lord, should we stay or should we go? Please give me a peace about what we were supposed to do.” Five minutes later my son’s mother-in-law texted me: “Kim, y’all need to come!!!” We left within the hour.
Our family decided to evacuate to the east coast of the state about six hours before the storm arrived. Other families stayed. Some families left five days earlier fleeing to Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and even Las Vegas. Regardless of what each family did in that moment faced with a storm beyond what any of us could imagine, our decisions were based on what we felt was best for our families and what we believed God was leading us to do.
Paul writes to us in Philippians about the peace of God which will guard our hearts in Christ. He tells us to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything. I wish I could say I wasn’t anxious at all during the storm, but I was. It’s hard not to worry when the media is telling you your house is going to shake and the wind is going to howl and it will be catastrophic (Think tornado for hours not minutes). I knew God was in control, but I also knew we needed to be wise. I am grateful for the prayers that were lifted up for our safety and protection. I am thankful that the storm downgraded before it reached us, causing minimal damage. But, I know that my thankfulness should not come solely from the outcome of the storm, but from the Lord himself. People in Houston and New Orleans prayed for God’s protection during Harvey and Katrina too and many lost everything.
Paul states that our gratitude and peace are not based on positive circumstances, disaster avoidance, or supernatural interventions. It is based in the Lord. Period. Is it easier to be grateful when things turn out well? Sure, it is. But, I want to learn to be grateful in all things and I am going to start by thinking about the things that are honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. And I have seen plenty of these things in these few days after the storm and I am grateful.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.