9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ((Joshua 1:9, New Revised Standard Version)
This is a strange thing for me. I have lived on or at least close to the coast my whole life. I grew up in the Houston area. Until I entered ministry I lived in that area except when I was in the Navy.
The Navy, almost by definition, means living on the coast. In boot camp and school I wasn’t quite on the coast. I was in Orlando (the base isn’t there anymore). Being in Florida, anywhere in Florida you aren’t far from the water.
From Orlando I reported to my ship, the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney, home port, Norfolk Virginia, on the coast. We spent six months in the shipyards in Philadelphia, on the water.
We faced a bad storm while at sea. It was tropical storm conditions but I don’t think it was an actual tropical storm. If it was, I don’t remember the name.
I was the lead signalman. A driving rain was hitting us. There was heavy wind and even heavier seas, or at least they seemed heavier. A message came up to the bridge that had to be sent. I could have sent one of the lower ranking guys out but I didn’t. I asked for one to volunteer to help and we tied ourselves into the light stand. It was not one of the highlights of my Navy time.
We did it well, but it was also very frightening. At one point the ship rolled to the side where I was in the light stand. I glanced down and saw nothing but swirling water. Had we rolled slightly more I MIGHT have fallen out of the light stand. I wasn’t worried about falling into the water, but when the ship rolled back I would have fallen hard into a steel bulkhead. It would have been painful.
It was frightening but I knew I had little choice. It was my job. As I watched The Weather Channel’s hurricane coverage and the local news I thought about all the hurricanes I have gone through in my life. Carla, Alicia, Rita, Ike, Harvey, and now Laura. There were others but those were the big ones in my area. There were others in other parts of the country and all of North America.
I don’t remember much about Carla. I think I was two at the time. Mostly I remember my dad being home from work.
We didn’t evacuate from Alicia though Cindy was pregnant with Christopher at the time and due pretty much at any time. My parents were closer to the hospital than we were at our house. So we evacuated there. Christopher arrived about three weeks later. We weren’t living in a coastal county and we also were never told to evacuate.
With Rita, Ike, and Harvey I was living in coastal counties. Each time when the call came for mandatory evacuation there was never a question what we would do. I know there are people who choose not to evacuate during any of those storms. But, there was never talk of storm serge exceeding ten feet. That is not the case with Laura.
I do understand having faith that God is going to protect us. But I also know God gave us the ability to think and reason and analyze situations to arrive at the best decision for the living things in our charge.
Today I heard about storm serge reaching Lake Charles and people choosing to stay. I don’t think that is the best decision.
There is an old joke about a guy who didn’t leave. After the rising water forced him onto the roof a guy came by in a rowboat offering to get him out. He said, “No, God will take care of me.” Later a speedboat came by. Again, he had the chance to get out. And, again he said, “No thanks. God will take care of me.” Now the guy is standing on the very peak of his house and a helicopter came and lowered a ladder and the man waved him off. Again he said, “God will save me.” The man then finds himself standing before God. He asks, “God, I had faith you were going to save me. Why didn’t you come.” God said, “I sent a rowboat, a speedboat, and a helicopter. What else was I supposed to do.”
I believe in all those weather forecasts and it being said again and again, “This is a non-survivable storm serge.” God was sending a weather forecaster. While it didn’t develop the storm serge expected but according to the Weather Channel, the storm serge has yet to crest (at 11:00 A.M. central time).
I know the Scripture above God is telling Joshua to have faith. But, God also expected Joshua to think about those God called him to lead. The verse concludes with God’s promise to be with Joshua.
I don’t know if anyone can survive the storm serge or not. What I do know, is this. God promised Joshua that God’s presence would be with him. God makes the same promise to us. God is with me regardless of my evacuation decisions (and this time I don’t need to do so). God is with me when I make good decisions and when I make lousy ones. That doesn’t mean God will protect me from the consequences of poor decisions.
It just mean this. God was with me in the storm aboard ship. No matter what, GOD IS WITH ME. I don’t know about you but I find comfort in that.
Be blessed (and be careful through the storm).
Seeking the genuine,
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved