Thursday, September 24, 2009

The storm is coming...

Twenty years ago this week I was waking up with an annoying buzzing in my ears. I was not sick and I did not have an ear infection, it was the sound of chain saws. Why do I remember this twenty years later. The chain saws were clearing the destruction left by Hurricane Hugo. I was a senior at FMC (also known as FMU) living at home at the time. I remember going to bed the night the storm was supposed to come ashore thinking how bad could it be. We were sixty plus miles from the coast. Some rain, some wind, a few limbs knocked down. Just a little worse than a thunderstorm. Wow, did I miss calculate that. When I woke up the next morning it looked as if a bomb had gone off in our neighborhood! There were trees, not limbs, laying everywhere. They were on roofs, in the street, on cars, lying across power and telephone lines. It was simply unbelievable to look at the destruction that storm caused.

The 20th anniversary did not make national news but it was in the local papers. As I read about it and looked at some of the photos I began to think about the storms in life and the parallels with Hugo. First of all we knew the storm was coming. The weathermen/women told us the storm was coming. They did not know exactly where or when it would hit but they told us it was headed our way.

James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds...

Whenever. They are coming, we don't know exactly when or what but they are coming. Second, we were told how to prepare for the storm. The news folks told us to make sure we had plenty of water in bottles or jugs. They also recommended that we fill out bath tubs with water as a reservoir. We were told to get in a small closet away from windows as the wind picks up because the winds can take the roof off of a house or topple a tree. Luke 6: 47-49 tells us about preparing for the storms of life by building our faith foundation on the rock.

Luke 6: 47-49
47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.

Are you building on The Rock. Are you not only hearing the Word but putting it in to practice? Listen to what Christ said in Matthew:

Matthew 24: 35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

When Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness Christ responded with scripture. Three times in Matthew 4: 1-11 Christ responded to Satan with "It is written". God's word will sustain us when nothing else will.

Finally, when the storm was over life slowly got back to normal. The trees were eventually cleared away, the roofs were repaired, the water and power were restored and I eventually graduated from college. Just like the trials that come into our lives, they will eventually pass. They may not end the way we wanted them to but they will end. The way Job's trial ended is much different than the way Paul's trial ended. Job lost everything but eventually God restored everything and then some:

Job 42: 10, 11
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

Paul was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a snake, betrayed by friends, sick, hungry and on and on. How did it end for him? The Bible does not tell us how or when the apostle Paul died, and history does not provide us with any information. The only thing we have to go on is Christian tradition, which has Paul being beheaded in Rome, around the mid 60s A.D., during the reign of Nero.

Regardless of how it ended both men are now in the presence of the Lord and I bet if you asked them if the trials and storms of life were worth it they would say absolutely.

One last verse from James:

James 1: 12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

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