I have spent the last month on a road trip out to Arizona and Texas, visiting several beautiful grandchildren. As I sit here this morning, drinking my coffee and reflecting on our trip and the number of times that God protected us from disaster, I stand amazed at His power and His faithfulness. Time and time again we drove a stretch of highway that would have some kind of natural disaster, but we felt none or few of the effects.
After we left our daughter in Tucson, we drove over 300 miles to El Paso through some pretty remote desert area, only to discover that several hours after we had passed through a stretch of I-10 East on the Arizona and New Mexico border, a 25 car pileup had occured because of a sand storm. Yes, a sand storm! Several people were unfortunately killed during this storm, because the visibility was zero.
As we continued on our trek home, we were surprised to see that a tropical storm named Cindy was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, heading towards the very path we were on. That storm was heading straight for the entire gulf region, a stretch of road over 1000 miles long and we had no way to avoid it. It actually made land fall in the exact area we spent one of our nights at a hotel. But amazingly enough, apart from a little excitement in New Orleans where we met some pretty heavy rain and a tornado warning screeching at us over the phone’s alert system, we remained almost unscathed. It seemed that once again, we were protected from a natural disaster that unfortunately took the life of a little boy on vacation in Alabama.
As I sit and think about the level of protection given to us during this drive home, I can’t help but remember a story in the gospels similar to what we just went through. The story is in Matthew 4:35-41 where Jesus and His disciples are in a boat during a great windstorm and the waves are beating down on them and it feels like a perilous time. But Jesus is sleeping! Finally, after much fear, the disciples wake Him up and ask Him “do You not care that we are perishing?” Ah yes, I can certainly understand the question and why they asked Him that. But His response is not what they expected. I think they were hoping He would help them bail out the water because what He did next, shocked them! He gets up from his place of rest, and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And there was a great calm. But then He turns and says to them “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” I’m not sure they really heard Him, because what they did next is almost comical. They became even more frightened, and looked at each other and said, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” They had just seen the mighty hand of God and it terrified them, because yes, even the wind and the waves obey His voice! After all the miracles they had seen Him do, and what frightens them the most about Him? When Jesus makes the weather obey Him!
I remember at the beginning of our journey home when I first heard about the tropical storm brewing in the gulf, heading towards the road we were on, and I felt a twinge of fear. Ok, fine, I was afraid. That’s a long drive through a tropical storm and all its various effects. But as I sought the Lord I heard Him say to me “If I can protect you through Hurricane Matthew, don’t you think I can protect you through this as well?”
Hurricane Matthew. I remember it too well. We live on the coast, between a winding river and our house is in a deep flood zone because that river flows straight into the Atlantic Ocean! Not cool. That hurricane was coming straight for the area we live in off the coast of Georgia. I remember the terror of having our phone screaming alerts at us to evacuate now. Mandatory evacuation was the term they used. And we listened. We left town just like millions of other folks and huddled in our hotel room, waiting for the horror to pass. We sat there in that hot, dark hotel room with our cat, playing Canasta because we had lost power and internet and cell phone service with the storm. The morning we were finally able to return home, I sat and prayed because I was afraid of what we would find when we got home.
That Saturday morning the Lord spoke words of encouragement to me giving me His peace. He gave me the following words from Job 5:17-24:
Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole. He shall deliver you in six troubles, Yes in seven no evil shall touch you. In famine He shall redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, And you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes. You shall laugh at destruction and famine, and you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For you shall have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you. You shall know that your tent is in peace; You shall visit your dwelling and find nothing amiss.
And nothing amiss is exactly what we did find that sunny morning after the hurricane passed through our area. Our house was protected. There was no damage and no flooding. We had seen a couple of Turtle Doves sitting in front of our house a couple of days before we left and it appeared that they were a sign of peace because peace is what we found. I had never seen those doves before and I haven’t seen them since.
The street behind our house did not fare so well, because they had lost a lot of trees and I do mean a lot, during that storm. But our street had nothing. God had protected us.
If you read Psalm 91 you will understand why God protects those that trust in Him. This Psalm goes on and on about God’s protection for those who love Him and trust Him. King David tells us in this Psalm in verse 2 that the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
So I would say to you, that if you are in the middle of a storm, or perhaps you see one coming on the horizon as we did on Highway I-10, make the Lord your refuge, your strong tower, make Him your hiding place! Talk to Him and tell Him that you are trusting Him. He always protects those that are His!