I'm sure all Floridians are aware by now that a hurricane is headed towards us. Yet for my family, there was something equally important this week, my son Micah turned 5.
As I mentioned in my sermon yesterday, these two events has me reminiscing about the last time a major hurricane was headed towards us on the Nature Coast. Hurricane Irma was almost exactly 5 years ago. I remember this so well because Micah's due date was just a few days away from landfall. It was a scary time, yet looking back it was a time that God grew our faith in Him.
Below is my Facebook status from the day after Hurricane Irma passed over us (we were living in St. Petersburg at the time). I hope it encourages you as we sit here and stare at spaghetti models over the next few days.
"I want to say thank you so much to everyone who reached out, offered help, and prayed for us over the last few days. It truly was an encouragement to our hearts and I sincerely believe that all the prayer led to a safe and baby free night. We are safe and doing well. Others are saying we were "lucky" but we know better, prayer works. It has been a whirlwind of a week, and the crazy part is even though we feel like we just ran a marathon, Beth still has to give birth! Her due date is the 18th. Please continue to pray for a safe delivery.
To give you snapshot of the last few days for us:
I was scared. As a husband and father so much of my identity is wrapped up in being the protector and provider of my family. I work hard and do whatever I can to make sure that my family is safe and cared for. But it’s hard to feel safe when you are watching a Category 5 hurricane coming at you. It’s hard to feel like a good provider when it's nearly impossible to find bread, water, and gas because all the stores ran out.
In 1 Kings there is a story of the starving widow and her son who had one meal left when Elijah asked for a meal first. I can confidently say I was not going to give up my family's food to a stranger asking for handout.
To make matters much worse, we were faced with a very real possibility of Bethany going into labor during the storm. She went into labor 8 days early with our first son, and the storm was going to be hitting us 8 days before her next due day. All the while, being constantly reminded in the days leading up to the storm that supposedly “low pressure storms can cause women to go into labor”. Not to mention the overall stress and extra activity the storm was causing. As someone that takes pride in doing whatever it takes to take care of my family, I felt helpless. I couldn’t stop a hurricane. I couldn’t hold off my wife’s labor pains. I couldn’t do anything.
I wonder if Joseph felt the same way when Mary went into labor yet there was no room in the inn so they were alone in a stable for her to give birth.
I have fasted before, but I have never fasted like I did this week. I was praying hard, but I honestly did not realize for a couple of days that I hardly ate a bite. My stomach was turning so much, my appetite was gone.
I bet Esther felt the same way when she was fasting for the survival of the Hebrew nation after the King’s order that all Jews could be killed.
Throughout it all, I kept reminding myself that God made the storm and no matter what happens it would be for good. I would find moments of peace throughout, times like when I was boarding the house singing hymns loud enough for the my neighbors to hear, and when I turned to His word, especially Isaiah 41 and Psalms 46. But then I would have moments of anxiety as I watched the news or looked at the constantly changing spaghetti models.
It's hard to be upset at Peter for taking his eyes off of Jesus to look at the waves when he was walking on water, when I kept taking my eyes off of Him and my feet were firmly planted on the ground.
As we sheltered at my work and the storm was passing overhead. I heard, saw, and felt the strongest wind I have ever experienced in my life. I couldn't help but think of the disciples fearing for their lives as Jesus calmly slept in the back of the boat. Only to get up and calm the wind and the seas with a few words.
It's in these moments I learn more about the Bible than I would hours and hours of studying. Because it's hard to capture the feeling, the angst, the stress, and the worry as I sit in my comfortable chair, in a quiet house, reading my Bible on a sunny morning. Rather my faith is strengthen through the testing of it, which is truly the only way to grow faith, by being in situations where you actually need faith! God gives us these moments of hardships so we can more fully trust and rely on him as He proves himself once again. The simple truth is I can never protect or provide for my family. I can’t make their heart beat one second longer than what God wants it to. I can’t stop other seemingly random occurrences from happening that could hurt them or our home. God is in 100% control of those situations, and it isn’t until I am in a situation that I am completely out of control that I am reminded of that again and thankful for the opportunity.
Last night we came home, I removed all the plywood and had good friends and neighbors show us love by helping us remove a large tree branch off of our roof, then offer us a generator so we could power a light and some other items after it got dark. Which was an amazing blessing.
But even with that Beth and I were emotionally spent. The stress of the last few days caught up to us as we sat in a dimly lit and very hot and humid house. So we prayed and we cried. We thanked God for the safety and grace He showed us and then we asked Him for strength for ourselves to face another day and power in the house to allow us to rest and find normalcy again before the baby came. Then we laid down for bed... 10 minutes later the power came on."