In the Path of the Storm

We enjoyed some much needed vacation last week, and arrived home from paradise on Tuesday. Then we watched live on social media and television the next day while another piece of paradise just down the road from us was pulverized by Hurricane Michael.

This was a hurricane that was hardly on anyone’s agenda only a few days before it formed as a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico. It escalated quickly into a monster storm, leaving little time for thousands of people in that area to make the decision to evacuate north. The storm continued to increase in intensity all the way up until the time it made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as the strongest hurricane on record ever to hit the Florida panhandle.

As I write this, we are just now getting a glimpse of the levels of destruction, from familiar vacation sites in Panama City Beach down the highway some toward lesser known Port St. Joe and Apalachicola. And of course, southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia were hammered pretty good, and now South and North Carolina are getting hit with more rain, even as they continue to try to recover from the flooding from Hurricane Florence a few weeks earlier.

For me, it’s not hard to put myself in their place, seeing that I was on the beach myself the day before this hurricane came ashore (even if it was more than 1,800 miles away). We had a couple of hurricanes in the vicinity where we were, but they stayed to the west of us and, other than some particularly high tides that were fun to plan in, we never really saw any effects of those storms. I guess we dodged a bullet, or two.

In these parts, we have plenty of experience with dodging bullets, especially as it comes to tornadoes, which are obviously more arbitrary and usually arrive with much less warning than a hurricane. Often, one house is left standing and another completely destroyed; one family escapes unscathed while another faces loss of property and even loss of life. And every time, it makes you wonder why some are in the path of the storm, while others are missed.

Jesus once told the story–in rather abrupt terms–about a similarly tragic event that had taken place in Jerusalem. That story, recorded in Luke’s gospel (13:4-5), mentioned that eighteen people had died when the tower of Siloam had fallen on them. Jesus asked, “Do you think those people were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?”  (He answered His own question with an emphatic “No!”)

His point was, it could happen to anyone. You may have survived Michael, or Florence, or a tornado that came near your neighborhood, but there’s no guarantee you will the next one. As Jesus stated elsewhere, the rain (and towers…and, even hurricanes) fall on the just and the unjust. His bigger application was summed up when He concluded: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

In other words, since we’ll never know the exact forecast about when or where the storms–or falling towers–will come, then we had better be ready and right with God if and when that time comes.

I am praying for those in Michael’s path who are trying to piece their lives back together this weekend. Perhaps we can get a group together in the coming weeks to go down and spend a few days helping out.

I’m praying for you also, that you will take advantage of the gift of life God has given you today and live for Him.