Friday, February 27, 2004
If you ask our kids about the four or five most indelible memories from their childhood, at least one is bound to bring up the night of the hurricane. Some friends had offered their home on Eastern Long Island to us 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, lined the freezer with newspaper in case the power went out. Well, the leading winds of the hurricane started blowing in about bedtime that night, and you could really hear it howling around our bedrooms upstairs. The kids were pretty unnerved. So, we all moved out of our rooms to the downstairs living room. We laid out some sleeping bags, and slept side by side together in the living room. I'll tell you, the kids loved it. They actually said, "Hey, hurricanes are fun, Dad!"
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 really pretty brutal. It did a lot of damage across that area, and it was pretty scary. The reason our children enjoyed it so much was simple: the storm brought our family together in a special way! 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 will probably not 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 from Acts 27:33. Paul is a prisoner of the Emperor, being transported to Rome on a grain ship crossing the Mediterranean. They hit a violent storm that pummels their ship relentlessly for two weeks. They can't see the sun, moon, or stars that whole time. They're adrift - they're powerless against the storm. Then an 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 aboard. And a group of people who had started out as not having much in common - soldiers, sailors, passengers, apostle - are acting like family now. And the storm really clarified their priorities. So much so that they ended up throwing overboard cargo that they never would have dreamed they could do without.
The heavy weather that's hitting your family right now, let it bring you closer together. That will 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 that the Lord is wanting you to throw overboard? A family hurricane has a way of sorting out the things that really don't matter, or some things that 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. 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 very special way.