CLERGY CORNER: Preparing for the storm

Posted on 28 September 2017 by LeslieM

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have demonstrated why we must take every precaution whenever a storm threatens. We had scarcely come to terms with the devastating impact of Harvey on areas of Texas and Louisiana, when meteorologists began informing us that another, potentially more powerful hurricane was forging a path towards South Florida. Scenes of wind battered homes, downed powerlines, rising flood waters and boats flung onto shore struck fear in many hearts. State and local officials began warning residents to evacuate the most vulnerable areas, to stock up on water and other supplies, and to secure their properties from possible damage.

Almost immediately water disappeared from store shelves and gas stations were bombarded by long lines of cars. Home supply stores struggled to keep up with the demand for plywood, and contractors began working longer hours to accommodate calls for help in securing homes.

The level of preparation and response was tremendous. It is estimated that well over a million people heeded the advice to evacuate, and the clogged traffic on I-75 North and the Turnpike gave evidence to the concern of the public. There were even power and utility companies from other states making preparation to aid Florida once the storm had passed.

Thankfully, for the most part, Florida avoided the worst of Irma’s fury. Any loss of life is always regrettable, and the destruction in the Keys was heartbreaking to observe. The storm is gone, however, and there is time now to reflect and put things into perspective even as we rebuild, resume and restore. Storms of nature, particularly hurricanes, can be forecast, but they are largely unpredictable. No one can say for certain what path they will take, and what intensity they will arrive with. All we can do, as our governor repeatedly warned, is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. Storms of life (adversity, setback or heartbreak) are also unavoidable and unpredictable, but we should equally take precautions to minimize their impact as well.

While it is easy to secure windows with plywood and shutters, our hearts and emotions cannot be ‘covered’ in the same way. A hard heart and disconnected attitude are antithetical to the normative human experience. We need something more akin to hurricane-impact windows and doors that negate the need to cover-up during an approaching storm. Able to withstand powerful wind forces, they are made to protect while offering the intended function of allowing light in and visibility out.

How does one reinforce the heart and emotions to be able to survive the storms of life? Take time to cultivate and appreciate the relationships that matter most in your life. A devoted spouse, loving family and committed friends are indispensable aids to staying grounded during trying times. A fine house, fancy car, and even money, are unable to comfort the anguish of a bruised spirit. We were designed to fellowship with others and we will need them when the storms come. Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Faith is also an invaluable asset to the strength of the heart and mind. Despite our knowledge and understanding, there are still things beyond our comprehension and control. Believers have settled on the fact that there is someone greater than ourselves, who holds our lives in His hands. It is comforting to put your trust in a God you cannot see but whose presence you can feel. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be removed and carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters therefore roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof… The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” With this kind of protection in place we can survive the storms of life.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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