Last week this time, my family and I were bunkered up in a place of safety, witnessing the most ferocious storm we have ever encountered. Marco Island, Florida received a direct hit from category four, hurricane Irma, on Sunday September 10th. We endured winds that were recorded at a constant 146 mph (234 km/h) and peaked to gusts of 175 mph (283 km/h). We were warned of a predicted sea surge of up to 15 feet, which would render the entire island under water. But by the mercy of God and fervent prayer, the sea surge only rose up to 7 feet, keeping us safe and free from flooding.
Even though the office building and our home did suffer some roof damage and needed some structural repair, no harm came to any of us, our equipment or our belongings. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!
This week has been very tough for everyone on the island and up and down the coastal areas surrounding us. So many people lost everything. Many are still without any power or internet and telephone communication. Our power only came on yesterday, so we had seven consecutive days without it in very hot temperatures of well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The smell of rotting debris and clogged sewer and water pipes has been overwhelming. We spent every day picking up debris, broken pieces of metal and roof tiles, broken off tree limbs and remnants of what was once some part of someone's home. We saw the bewildered look on people's faces as they looked over their properties, wondering where to begin the clean up process. We were able to lend a hand with chopping down fallen trees into potions that could be moved away from people's homes. Everyone was faced with having to sort through the damage and destruction of Irma's fury. We were all left to pick up the pieces together. Can you believe that that alone offered some sort of comfort? The fact that we were all in it together offered a comradeship that brought hope and joy.
Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy and His mighty hand of protection and provision! We are living examples of His faithfulness!
I have to say, this experience shook my very foundation. It reminded me of what is of actual value in this life, and how easily my comfort and security can be based on things, rather than the security I have in knowing and experiencing the person of God Himself.
To be honest, there were moments I had to fight off fear with all my might. I wish I had been more like Paul, who took all his life threatening experiences and their 'could be' consequences with such confident ease and rock solid assurance. I have come to understand more clearly something the minister at our little local church preached this morning; that our peace of mind and sanity are directly related to the deep seated trust we have in the Lord alone.
I spent some time reading Isaiah 26:3 in the Amplified version. It says, “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”
In the original Greek, this verse implies that when we choose to fix our thoughts on the Lord, to the extent that the character and inclination of our minds is to constantly trust in Him; we will know the perfect peace of God. Can you imagine being at the point where no matter what comes your way, the natural inclination of your mind is not to fret or worry, or react in fear, but to calmly be at peace as you confidently trust in the Lord to take care of you and all that concerns you, no matter what?
Well, I'm certainly a work in progress in that regard and am forever grateful to the Lord for His loving patience and grace to gently lead me into that place of constant, perfect peace in Him.
I pray that if you haven't already come to that place, you too will join me in the journey of learning how to live hidden and secure in the shelter of His wings.
Love you dearly,