Most of the nation’s attention was focused on the Eastern Seaboard this weekend as hurricane Irene barreled her way up the coastline. We were especially attentive because we once lived in Virginia Beach, and our daughter and many of our friends still reside there. Having ridden out our share of tropical storms, Nor’Easters, and hurricanes, my family understand the preparation, anxiety, and relief when the storm is over, clean-up begins, and life returns to normal. Irene dumped some rain, blew down some trees, knocked out power, and inconvenienced Virginia Beach, but did her worst damage further up the coast in the New England States. The last death count I heard this morning was 30, mostly from falling trees and electrical wires.
When you live on the coast, you know storms will come. You take precautions such as stocking up on bottled water and foods that can be eaten without much preparation, assemble your batteries, non-electric radio, lantern, and fill your car up with gasoline because you don’t know how long electricity will be out and you can’t run a gas pump without electricity. You assemble a bug-out-bag, or rubbermaid type bin, with your important papers and a backpack full of underwear and change of clothes in case the storm forces an evacuation. You do all that you can do, then you watch and wait.
The nicest thing about hurricanes is they come with a warning. Thanks to the weather service, you know where the storm is and where it is projected to strike. Sometimes the storms stop, sometimes they make sharp angled turns, and sometimes they fizzle out before making landfall, but you watch and pray and are ready to leave if necessary. You can be prepared ahead of time.
Now I live in Michigan and the summer storm threat here is tornados. You take the precautions you can, listen to the weather radio, and be ready to dive for shelter on a moment’s notice if a tornado pops out of a summer thunderstorm. Preparation and awareness are key to survival.
The water-table is fairly shallow along the Eastern Shoreline. Trees spread out their roots and soak up water without much effort. When the strong, sustained winds blow in, those same trees are easily toppled, tearing their wide, shallow root base up with them. Here in Michigan, the water table is much deeper. The root system has to dig deep to find water and consequently form a solid anchor. These Northern trees have prepared for the storm. They have sunk their roots deep, and it takes a great windstorm to topple them. Even after a tornado, the tree top may be snapped off, but the roots have held.
There is a story told about Jesus in Mark 4. Jesus and his friends were crossing a large lake in a boat when a Nor’Easter-variety storm blew up. The storm was so bad that the professional sailors on the boat (think of TV’s The Deadliest Catch sort of fisherman) were sure that their boat was going to capsize. The Bible tells us that Jesus was asleep in the stern. They woke Jesus up to let alert Him of their danger. (I suppose to let Him know that everyone was going to drown!) The Bible says that Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and the water immediately became still, and the disciples were terrified that even the wind and waves obeyed Him. Jesus asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
When the storms of life hit us, we can feel that God is unaware of our danger, or that if He is in our boat with us, he’s conked out on a pillow and is oblivious to our condition. He knows our trials. He sees our fears and knows our pain. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The storms of life will come. We need to use wisdom to prepare for them, whether it be a storm shelter or bug-out-bag for a windstorm, or seeking the Lord for direction in a personal storm. We can prepare NOW for the coming storm, even before the hurricane warning or weather alert sounds. Our greatest storm preparation is digging our spiritual roots deep into God, through daily reading the Bible, prayer, and meditation on God’s promises. Build up your faith in the One who calms the storms. Sink your roots deep today, and you won’t be toppled like a shallow-rooted tree when the storms of life rage around you.