September 2, 2011

Lessons from a Hurricane

Our town in no stranger to storms. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd brought devastation by water. In 2003, Hurricane Isabel's winds felled 100 year old pines and carved paths through neighborhoods. In 2006, an unnamed storm brought more flooding.

Hurricane Irene left much damage in her wake. Here in Virginia, the scenes aren't as grim as in New Jersey and Vermont. We have much to be thankful for. As normal life resumes, I think on the lessons I learned over the past few days. They are things to be pondered on, tucked away in my heart for safekeeping, and hopefully lived out in sunny days as well as rainy ones.

I've been reminded that procrastination is not a virtue. I completed many of the items on my list prior to Irene's arrival, but left some chores until Saturday morning. When the electricity (and with it, the water) went out at hours earlier than expected, I was caught by surprise. Thankfully, our most important preparations were complete. Still, things at home would have been better if I had been more diligent.

I've learned my home relies heavily on water and electricity. I won't pretend we were roughing it, since we had a generator to provide lights and keep our freezers going. Still, there were so many things I couldn't do for the 4 days we didn't have power and water.  I was forced to stop procrastinating and organize my desk and R's study area. We'll be getting CJ's area together this weekend (our Labor Day weekend tradition).

I've learned how distracting modern conveniences and technology can be. I enjoyed the break from television and internet (our cable company was down). We played games. We navigated past fallen trees to visit friends and family. We talked to our neighbors. We went to the park to play with a friend's children. No Facebook updates, no Google Reader, and no constant information stream jostling for our attention. It was actually very pleasant.

I've learned to love my family even more.  There's something about huddling together inside while the rain and wind blow fiercely outside, camping out together in the living room (where it was coolest), and working together in less-than-ideal circumstances that draw you even closer together. There is no one on this planet who I love more than my man and my girl.

I've learned how desperate my own depravity is.  In the midst of all of this, I too often found my thoughts focused on how inconvenienced I was rather than worrying with what others might be going through or trusting God's sovereignty.

I've learned that still  I have so much more than I need. Surrounded by things I couldn't use, moving others to make room for extension cords and water jugs, I was a little overwhelmed by the things I still cling to. I think Autumn nesting will bring another purge.

I've learned, again, how blessed I am. With a husband who took major pains to prepare our home for the worst, a boss who let us invade his home to take hot showers and do laundry, and friends across the country and the Atlantic Ocean who kept check on us...I'm one blessed woman.

I've learned that who we are in every day life is who we are in the midst of a storm.  It doesn't matter if it's trusting God, being selfish, or showing kindness and compassion, how we live in the good times prepares us for how we live in the bad.

I've learned, again, that God is totally and completely sovereign. Saturday's evening devotion from Morning and Evening(while the hurricane was churning):

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, Faithful God (Psalm 31:5)
The object of a believer's interest in life and death is not his body or his possessions, but his spirit; this is his choice treasure:  If this is safe, then all is well...At all times we should commit everything to Jesus' faithful hand; then even if life should hang on a thread, and difficulties multiply like the sands of the sea, our soul shall life in safety and delight itself in quiet resting places.

And yesterday morning's:

In seasons of severe trial the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust, and so he is compelled to cast himself on God alone. When his vessel is capsizing, and no human deliverance is at hand, he must simply and entirely trust himself  to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone!

His timing was perfect. Then there were the prayers of precious friends, who were asking that the river surrounding our town crest below predictions. I'd told them I thought 16 feet was safe. They prayed, and the predictions dropped to 16 feet! One of the gals said she'd pray for 15. The river crested at 14.7 feet. I never stopped being amazed at God.

And so, life continues. R has returned to school. I've returned to work. CJ is preparing for 8th grade and I'm still wondering when that happened. Things are back to normal, but I'm praying these lessons will stay with me for a long time to come.


Becky said...

Melissa, these are very important lessons. I guess I need to learn from your experience some of them.


Leslie said...

#6 gets me, too. We have so much that we do not need, but they are fun to have when the electricity is working. :)

Persis said...

Beautiful post, Melissa. Praising God for answering prayers regarding the flooding.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Melissa. There's nothing quite like being in a desperate place of need to get us to unlearn a few things and to teach us how to learn from Him.

So glad you're "back to normal."

Carrie said...

I enjoyed reading through this post.

I've been working on turning off the computer more and worry about online stuff less. I'm getting better at it, week by week. I think it's really important to live life away from the screen and so I am. Trying to. Step-by-step. Hopefully it won't take a storm to get me all the way to where I need to be!

Diana Lovegrove said...

Melissa, thanking God that you were all kept safe and that you have pointed us all back to Him through this post. Love those Spurgeon passages! And I thank God for all you have learned - especially "who we are in every day life is who we are in the midst of a storm" - praying He would help me to live each day in complete and utter dependence on Him for everything.

God bless you, friend!

Lisa Spence said...

Wise reflections here, friend. I would do well to learn these same truths (without the hurricane preferably--ha!)

Anonymous said...

Those are very wise things to learn. I hope I can learn from your experience! I'm so glad you all came out of the hurricane safe & sound :)

Love & blessings :)