Friday, July 13, 2018

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If you ask our kids about four or five of the most indelible memories from their childhood, I think at least one is bound to bring up the night of the hurricane. Some friends had offered their home on Eastern Long Island; we could use it for our vacation. I wonder if they had advance word that Hurricane Belle would make it all the way up the East Coast that week and smack Long Island right on the chin? Thankfully, the home we were in was on a cliff above the ocean so we didn't have to evacuate. But we made all the appropriate preparations. We loaded up on batteries and candles, stored water in the bathtub, and lined the freezer with newspaper in case the power went out. The leading winds of the hurricane started blowing in about bedtime that night, and I mean, you could hear it howling around our bedrooms upstairs. The kids were pretty unnerved (including this kid). So, we all moved out of our rooms to the downstairs living room. We laid out some sleeping bags, and we slept side by side together in the living room. The kids loved it! They actually said, "Hey, Dad, hurricanes are fun!" Really?

I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Beautiful Side of a Brutal Storm."

Now that hurricane was pretty brutal. I mean, it did a lot of damage across that area, and it was definitely scary. The reason our children enjoyed it so much was simple. The storm brought our family together in a special way! Yeah. You know, storms have a way of doing that with families, if we respond to the heavy weather in the right way.

Actually, when a storm hits your family, it probably won't leave you the same. It will either drive you and your spouse, you and your children, closer together or farther apart. Again, it all depends, not on the storm, but on how you respond to the storm. Do it right and you and your loved ones will come out closer than you have ever been before.

There's a helpful lesson in managing life's storms in our word for today from the Word of God in Acts 27:33. Paul is a prisoner of the Emperor of Rome, being transported to Rome on a grain ship crossing the Mediterranean. They hit this violent storm that pummels their ship relentlessly for two weeks. They can't see the moon, the sun, the stars. They're adrift; they're powerless against the storm. Then this angel appears to Paul and assures him that he will make it to Rome and that none of the people on board will die.

The story picks up: "Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat...I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head. After he had said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate...When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea."

Paul managed to make this storm into a God-moment for everyone on board. And a group of people who had started out as not having much in common – soldiers, sailors, passengers, an apostle. They're acting like family now. And that storm really clarified their priorities. So much so that they ended up throwing overboard cargo they never would have dreamed they could do without.

The heavy weather that's hitting your family right now, would you let it bring you closer together? That's going to happen if you pray together as you have never prayed before, perhaps as you never would have if it weren't for this storm. And let the storm clarify your priorities. Is there cargo you're carrying that the Lord wants you to throw overboard? A family hurricane has a way of sorting out things that really don't matter, and some things that might need to go. And all of a sudden, you have an opportunity to overlook the differences and the conflicts that have been building walls between you, because you need each other too much now to let anything come between you.

The winds are howling, the storm is intense, and it may do some damage. But it can also be one of the best things that has ever happened to your family, if you huddle together to face it and let it make you close in a new and special way.