A RIGHT TURN
Of Hurricane Michael
We are called to co-labor with Christ
On October 10th 2018, a hurricane made landfall in Mexico Beach, a small coastal town in the Florida panhandle. This town is immediately east of Panama City, a community of about 37,000 people. The destruction inflicted by Michael, the strongest storm to hit the area on record, was significant with sustained winds in excess of 150 mph.
On the other side of the storm, we look back and prayerfully consider the effects. It is easy to say that those living sufficiently east and west of the storm, where damage was minimal or non-existent, were blessed. I have wondered if we are being short-sighted, perhaps confused, when we equate being spared the pain and loss associated with the hurricane to some special treatment of God. A quick read of The Beatitudes reminds us that those who face most difficult times are actually the ones that are blessed (Matthew 5:2-11). Likewise, The Love Chapter reminds us that true love can only occur when pain and disappointment are present (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Stress, difficulties and pain are seen biblically as opportunities to look up, to simply trust that a sovereign God and Sustainer has choreographed, down to the smallest detail, each outcome including destruction brought by natural disasters.
As there are no accidents, there are also no random movements by nature. The Deists were not right. Our friends in the insurance industry got it right when they proclaim certain events such as a hurricane an act of God. These events are unlikely and appear random from our human perspective and are not preventable. Yet, God sustains the hurricane and so can drive and direct the storm easily. In other words, He can slow the car since it is His foot on the gas pedal. Jesus didn’t work overtime with great effort when He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). Natural disasters do occur in a natural way. The worst hurricanes occur in the late summer and early fall. Earthquakes occur along major tectonic plate boundaries. We all age. In general, science as we know it, would not be possible if chaos reigned.
But what are we seeing now? How have things changed? The landscape is altered but should only be a reminder of the clearing of the view, a starting point for something new, something elevated, in that our area has a potential to move ahead, to build, advance, in a much more unimpeded way. Honoring the Lord actually is not that difficult, but He has just made it easier. Now is the moment we have knowingly or not been asking for. Our prayers can be stagnant and encumbered. The Lord’s hand is not. This would have been no one’s choice except the Lord’s. How we deal with the aftermath, making it into something powerful for Him, or not, is a choice we now all face. In our collective laps a significant opportunity, one we never dreamed of, exists. We are called to co-labor with Christ. Well, He has run well ahead of us and accomplished the heavy lifting. Let’s sprint to catch up to where He is so we can share in the victory. May we all hear well done good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).
How do we do this? Simply trust and embrace Him. Don’t look back (Genesis 19:26). Take the time with all those you will see to let them know that you will be participating in the healing and restoration of more than just the physical and emotional needs of the area, but you are determined to work within the context of a spiritual revival. Ultimately, this option yields the greatest, being eternal, rewards. The true value found in the wake of Michael thus lies in the acceleration of ministry, outreach, and missions. The Lord has leveled the playing field (literally), turned our attention to Him, and has now made it even more possible for us to impact the area and perhaps our culture. Let us not think too small for nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Hurricane Michael has put us on the stage. For whoever is watching, our testimony will be heard like very few times in our past.
There are those who were directly impacted by Michael and those who were spared. The people in its path were blessed beyond those who escaped. This should only remind us that there indeed are only two kinds of people, those taking a right turn at eternity’s door and those taking a left.
*First published as the Epilogue in Dr. Jesse Nelson’s book We Survived Hurricane Michael.