“The best thing of all is God is with us.” – John Wesley
It’s 6 a.m. Sunday morning and I’m wide awake. I’ve been glued to the NOAA website for days now. Each time I load the site, I study the graphics, make personal predictions, see what Twitter says of the latest update, and then look at the graphics again. Prayer and questioning happens in the midst of it all. It’s not my first hurricane scare, but this one feels different – much bigger, more fear, more anxiety.
The danger we’re anticipating in Northeast Florida, though still significant, has been downgraded since we first started talking about Irma. Most of us are settling in place, while so many of our community left Jacksonville/St. Augustine only to find themselves in the path of the storm. It’s crazy to think that our entire state will be affected by this hurricane. So I’m awake – praying, waiting, hoping, questioning & praying again for us all.
As I was praying, I was reminded of the message I gave at JU’s first worship gathering during Week of Welcome. Ironically, I talked about seeing a storm heading your way. I was thinking about the typical ‘college’ storm of finding classes harder than you thought they’d be, realizing your major isn’t gonna work out or simply that long trek through the valley at JU. I had no idea we’d be dealing with a major hurricane with about a week’s notice. Though the context is very different, the scripture I shared at that gathering is just as relevant; maybe more so as Irma approaches the Florida Keys. Here’s the text in the VOICE translation:
Eternal One: Remember who created you, O Jacob? Who shaped you, O Israel?See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back. I have chosen you, named you as My own.
When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm; you will not be engulfed in raging rivers. If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned.
Because I, the Eternal One, am your God. I am the Holy One of Israel, and I will save you.
Because you are special to Me and I love you…don’t be afraid. I am here. – Isaiah 43:1-5 THE VOICE
God is WITH us in this storm. While that does not answer all of the questions, it does give us a place to direct those questions. God WITH us does not necessarily pull back the storm, but God’s presence reminds us that we’re not alone in the midst of it. God WITH us, does not remove the clean up efforts and restoration that has to take place in the coming weeks; but knowing we are deeply loved confirms that there is a hope and a future. God is WITH us in this storm, and that can be good news for us. That’s what I’m praying for the most – that fear, confusion, anger and apathy would not take hold in our hearts this weekend. May we keep our hearts open to God who loves us and who is WITH us during this storm.
And as God is WITH you, so is CCW. If you need anything, please reach out. We are thinking about you, praying for you, and believing that God will hold us all through this storm. God is WITH us.