How to Weather a Storm

by - December 31, 2010

Hurricane Katrina rocked my world. I didn't sleep for a week, I couldn't concentrate or eat. That one storm reaked havoc on (or totally destroyed in some cases) every city and town I had lived in since seventh grade. The video feeds on TV were of the gas stations I pumped my gas, the restaurant in the harbor my family owned, the bridge I traveled to work every day. Katrina's damage swept so wide that part of me was washed away right along with a whole coastline,and I wasn't even there.

It was Thursday, three days after the storm and I knew my mom had been rescued from the City of Biloxi Bedlam by my cousin hero and was well on her way to me and safety via the airport. One would think that I would be feeling much better by then, but I wasn't. I was reeling from a realization that hit me so hard that the thought slipped out of my head and through my words into the quiet around me. I was so deep in thought that the sound startled me, and I wasn't even aware that it was my own voice that I heard until just a fraction of a second later. Hurricane Katrina disturbed me.

But this is not a post about Hurricane Katrina; it's a post about safety.

With an audible chuckle, I had leaked these words from my thoughts: "We're really not safe."

And we're not, you know. Not in the sense we crave it — physically. And not in the sense that I had always felt that I was.

It's America, the land that has known only peace and security within its borders since just after the Depression and the World Wars — almost a full hundred years ago and several generations now. We live where there is the rule of law and peace and order and freedom.

So we don't know danger and insecurity. We don't even imagine the possibility of it. We take the blessings of health, and home, and our children all gathered in close for granted, something we are entitled to, or at the very least, expect.

And because of all we have, the suffering we see on the nightly news and from the missionary's reports falls on us uncomprehended. It's so far removed from our American security and sensibility, that it's not real —until the pictures are of your relatives and the street corners are the ones on your old jogging route. Until Hurricane Katrina teaches you that no one is exempt. No one is safe on this Fallen Earth.

Guatemala is under seige. Journalists have been strong-armed, and their innocent family members and their president and their neighbors have been threatened. Army tanks and anti-drug agents (masked to protect their identity and thus their safety) patrol the streets in Coban, a city we have come to love over the last five years. Drug traffickers are not happy, and our Guatemalan children live just behind stucco walls that are a flimsy shield from danger and drug gangs and storms no child should have to weather. And our villagers don't even have stucco, but only wooden planks and thatched grass roofs and vulnerability to drug cartel recruitment. They don't have much.

But they do have faith — a shield that's sure and not flimsy or unreliable. It is the forward part of the whole armor that when we stand in it, we are firm. Outfitted in prayer, we are ready for battle. And prepared for victory. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

My mom spent Hurricane Katrina with knees bent to a soggy carpet on the second floor of her borther's house. She prayed for three solid hours on arthritic knees and a storm surge that rose up to meet them. While there was talk of escape for nine in a two-man skiff tied to the balcony, she didn't pray for safety or deliverance. She prayed for faith.

Will you kneel beside me and stand firm, Warrior? Those in need depend on us and our weapons of warfare to weather their storm. May we stand knowing that no matter our physical safety, our spiritual safety is sound. We fight the good fight planted firmly in the palm of his hand. And there is no safer place to be.

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  1. Amen. This is written so well. My heart surges to try to live to pray and intercede and stand in the gap.


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