In a crisis, I fancy myself a take-charge kind of guy. So, when I awoke early Tuesday morning last week to the news that Hurricane Matthew would be the worst storm since Andrew to hit south Florida, I knew it was time to prepare. Since my house is being renovated, I’ve been staying at my father’s, and I decided I would be responsible for the security of both houses. Without a second-thought, I made my checklist and sprung into action.
Tuesday was largely spent making sure my father’s house and mine were prepared. My builders took all the burden off of me for my house, promising to move everything inside and secure all the doors. They had even called to have the dumpster removed on Monday, before anyone else would think to do it. So, I focused on my father’s house. I dusted off the hurricane emergency kit and its flashlights that hadn’t seen the light of day in over a decade, cleared out space in the cluttered garage to fit our cars, and sorted through the puzzle that had become of our hurricane shutters. Of course, all of this meant trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s for replacement parts.
On Wednesday, the Weather Channel noted Hurricane Matthew’s path had inched even closer to the Florida coast. They showed images of Haiti being battered, and my heart ached for those people. Their lives were in danger, and what little they had was being decimated. I prayed for the safety and security of everyone there. Then, as a new father, my protective instincts certainly kicked into higher gear.
I managed to get all the storm shutters up, though I doubted my handiwork, and the cars in garages. Everything was coming together just as I had planned. I even had time to eat lunch and shower before my wife and I would drive out of town for a trip we had planned months ago.
My last task before leaving was to secure the garage doors, but when I went to do so, my heart sank into my gut. I had not applied the support beams to the garage door, nor did I know how to do so. Without them, the doors would only withstand 70 mile-per-hour winds, and the Weather Channel was predicting winds of at least 100 mph from Hurricane Matthew. I was responsible for protecting my family, and I had screwed up with no time left to correct it. I scrambled to put the posts up, but I only had time to sweat through my shirt and undo the shower I had just taken. Fortunately, my father said despite his injured back he would put up the support beams so Amber, Tripp, and I could leave.
While the fruition of my plan had its own glaring omission, it was not even the worst of it. I got an email from my builder stating the dumpster still had not been removed from in front of my house, and that despite his hourly calls, the company was not moving due to the large volume of requests they received. They planned to remove it Thursday, when Hurricane Matthew was supposed to hit, but it didn’t look good.
I was stuck. For two days, I had been pretending like I had control over this impending storm. Of course, I didn’t, and even if I did, the measures I took to protect our house fell victim to my human fallacy. Hurricane Matthew, as with many storms in our lives, was something beyond my control. No matter what I did, or how carefully I planned, that dumpster, completely full to the brim, would sit in front of my house when the storm hit. I had not successfully protected either house I had set out to protect.
It was funny, because it took until that moment for me to do what I should have done from the start. I finally turned my concerns over to God. I had been praying for others’ safety and thanking Him for helping me to achieve my plan, but I hadn’t been trusting in His. In my smallness, I was thinking I would be the one to protect my family from the storm rather than to recognize that God was in control, and He would take care of me no matter how harshly any storm hit.
Hurricane Matthew stayed far enough to the east to not cause any harm to my family, and my builders’ last-minute efforts to tarp down the dumpster in front of my house successfully prevented any damage to my or my neighbors’ houses. We were fortunate to avoid the storm this time, and we certainly give God thanks for that.
Unfortunately, many have not been so lucky. It’s hard to sit here in the comfort of my home and tell others who have lost their houses, or worse the lives of loved ones, to put your faith in God, that He will take care of you. I imagine the sting of those losses has built a sizable wall of pain, bitterness, and anger. That is completely understandable. While I can’t know your pain, I can say that my heart goes out to you and I pray that God will offer you His healing grace and love. He can get you through anything, no matter how insurmountable it may seem. For those whom this storm hit the worst, I would offer the following verse as encouragement.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
– Proverbs 3:5-6