We all encounter “storms” in our lives. If you see a storm approaching, you might take cover and make preparations for protection and endurance, especially if you have advance warning. I spent most of a week preparing for Hurricane Matthew, and another week catching up with what got put aside for ‘storm duty’. This is why I did not post on my blog. I find life is often like that. We make our plans and a ‘storm’ of one kind or another takes our attention, time and energy, while everything else gets put aside. These storms can be illness, death, relationship problems, physical accidents or threats of many kinds. We sometimes get notice or warning signals that give us time to prepare or take measures to lessen their impact. Often they catch us by surprise. Hurricane Andrew was like that. it turned during the night and most of us awoke in the morning to surprisingly find it was coming right at us instead of heading away as forecasted, and we were not prepared enough in advance. That is why they have added the longer forecasts to help us be more prepared, even if the storm changes its course just enough to pass us by. We spend a lot of time preparing and protecting ourselves from things that never occur, but of which we are afraid. It takes wisdom and some discernment to know how much we need to do in response or preparation.
Fortunately Hurricane Matthew did little damage in my location but we still needed to prepare. And even if no damage, there was still cleanup activities and work undoing some of the storm prep activities in order that life can go on as usual. I had some lessons and ‘tests’ along the way I would like to share. I have learned to trust God when I see storms coming. I turn things over and pray to discern the things I need to do. When the power goes out, gas pumps, credit card machines and ATM’s do not work and often banks are not open. It is wise to have a full tank of gas, non-perishable food, water, battery powered devices and extra cash. The ATM machine ate my Debit Card, probably suffering from over use by many others doing the same thing. I learn to accept what I cannot control. Even so, a wave of dread washed over me as I saw the long lines of people inside the bank doing withdrawals without a debit card. I saw a customer service rep and she had no customers so she was able to help me immediately to get a new debit card and we had a nice time chatting. It was a nice break from all the storm duty activities and in the process I received a new security chip card for my old card devoured by the ATM.
I went to gas up my car and there were such long lines I needed to go around the back of the station fully prepared to wait. As I drove in there was an empty gas pump with no line in back so I was able to get my gas and leave quickly. The line behind me formed rapidly. I felt blessed again. I believe being in an attitude of gratitude, letting go of fear, anxiety, impatience, anger and frustration, opens the door to receiving more blessings. But this attitude did not come easy for me. It grew over several years of ‘training’ under the leadership of the Holy Spirit given through a life surrendered to Jesus Christ, who enables us with a new spirit to become like he witnessed himself to be while on the earth as a man. My childhood had taught me to be afraid and anxious around crisis and focus on taking care of myself since no one else in my family protected me from life threatening traumas occurring every day. If bad things happened as an adult, I was brought back to victimhood into fear, anxiety, defensiveness and controlling behavior. Now I have come to experience myself victorious through Christ who helps me whenever I am in need. It frees me to let go of always being in control.
In a few hours I found most of what I needed for the storm at the several stores I visited, but there were no D size batteries anywhere. In several stores, there were lots of other people looking for them also. One thing you need if the power goes out is a lot of D batteries for all the flashlights and battery powered devices. After visiting and calling several more stores, I went home without worry, trusting in God as I have learned to do and a friend texted asking if I found all I needed. I told her about the batteries and since she was in a store I had not visited much further away from my home, she looked and found a few, which she bought for me. The power and WiFi went off a few times but not anything drastic. We were blessed that we were not hit head on.
I was thankful for the storm duty because I have been recovering from several years of being limited physically and this was a test of how much activity my body could stand. My faith, patience and brotherly love was also tested as I found myself being calm, friendly and supportive of others going about the ‘storm duty’ activities, a new experience of myself in such a crisis situation since I have been growing in Christ. I helped people find what they were looking for, warned the people behind me in the ATM line, or lightened the mood of cashiers with humor or buying them a piece of chocolate as a treat. The storm event could have changed my mood, frightened, angered or depressed me, as it has in the past, but in acceptance and trust, I discovered my body, my faith and my character are in better shape than they have been for several years, so I was doubly blessed by the experience. The blessing on top of it all is that seeing myself being so different, being the way I want to be, but could not achieve on my own, builds my faith and growing surrender even more to God in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, who can do for me, in me and through me for others, so much more than we can hope for or imagine.
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