A hurricane was headed our way, but alarm bells weren’t going off. It had been 40 years since a hurricane had hit our community. Plus, the storm was small, rather weak and moving north of us.
Still, we were told to be prepared.
So what did we do? Well, the morning the storm made landfall, my husband and daughter Molly, six at the time, skipped out the door to stock up on Oreos and milk at the local 7-11.
That was the entire extent of our hurricane preparation.
The lines at 7-11 were long with other “responsible” citizens making sure they had their Bugles and Yoohoo in case some gusty winds and rain made running errands unpleasant for a day or two.
No one was prepared for what was unleashed upon us.
While everyone was stocking up on sugary treats and empty calories, that “little” storm was quickly intensifying to a Category 4 and turning south—straight for us.
Just a few hours later, we watched in helpless horror as savage winds peeled off chunks of our roof and twisted our pool cage like tinfoil.
Nearly every form of earthly security was ripped out from under me. No electricity. No phone. No water. Our home survived, but was in tatters. Our entire community looked like a war zone.
As the storm was barreling toward us, we were all preparing for it with Oreos and Yoohoo.
I could barely contain an overwhelming sense of dread, anxiety and fearfulness.
How would we get food? Where would we find a contractor? Would our insurance cover this? Where would we live? How would we ever put our lives back together?
I looked around me and couldn’t find a shred of security. The storm had swept it all away.
I’d been in this place before …
… when we received the news that our baby son had cystic fibrosis: What will his future be like? Will he be able to live a good life? How will we afford his care?
… when at the age of 27, my health began to crumble: How can I live this way? Who will be able to help me? How can I find the “right” treatment?
Over and over, I’ve given in to fear. I’ve looked for security in doctors, finances and other miracle cures.
My foundation was shaky. Built on things that offered no more true comfort and security than Oreos and Yoohoo.
I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told in Matthew 7:
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.
From the outside, both men’s houses likely looked the same—solid, secure, maybe even beautiful. It’s when the storms came, that the strength of their foundation was exposed.
These men didn’t build their foundations during the storm. It was before the storm hit.
The wise man built his on solid ground. His foundation wasn’t just head knowledge. He buried God’s Word in his heart. He chose to build a foundation of precious internal truths rather then worthless external idols.
The foolish (wo)man (I’ve been her many times), instead built her foundation on sand—possessions, circumstances, other people’s opinions and other comforting, but empty, temporary sources of security.
Everything but Jesus is sand, my friend.
For years, when the storms came, I often clung to my Oreos and Yoohoo.
I asked anxiety-producing, frustrated questions.
I’ve weathered many storms. Each time, God is helping me to build a stronger foundation. He’s changing the questions I ask to ones that reveal the sand in my foundation:
What do I deserve?
When storms hit, our first inclination to feel that life is unfair. Why is this happening to me? I don’t deserve this!
God gently reminds me that I’m not entitled to anything. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, we’ve been choosing rebellion against God. We’ve wanted to be our own authority. We’ve rebelled against God’s perfect order. A price had to be paid for our rebellion.
Romans 6:23 tells us, “The payment for sin is death …”
“Fair” would be eternal separation from God. “Fair” would be an eternity without hope.
“… but God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He didn’t give me what was fair.
Thank. you. Jesus.
Who do I trust?
Am I trusting a doctor to save me? Am I certain that my home or my bank account will keep me safe? Do I look to people for my security? All of them will fail us. Even the best doctor. The most loving family member. Or the most beautiful home.
I can trust the One who died for me.
He has not saved me from every storm, but He has never left me in the middle of one.
I may not understand His ways, but I can know that a God who died a brutal death in my place is always working for my good.
What do I believe?
Storms expose the lies we believe.
Do I really believe God is good—even if He allows my child to get sick, my home to be destroyed, my health to collapse?
Do I believe His Word when He says, “There is no want to those who fear Him.” (Ps. 34:8-9) or “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)? Do I really believe God is in control or am I at the mercy of my circumstances?
God will answer these very valid questions with loving, but powerful clarity as we bring them to Him in the midst of our pain. He has done it for me time and time again, replacing the sand of doubt with the solid ground of truth.
How will I respond?
Fear. Panic. That’s been my go-to response far too many times. That makes sense if our security is built on sand. When it’s built on the Solid Rock, I can choose to pray instead of panic. I can ask for guidance instead of relying on my own wisdom.
I can choose to trust that God will give me what I need even when I look around and see nothing but devastation. Even when my emotions are screaming something different. I can choose to trust and cling to truth. One moment at a time.
Where is my hope?
Often we say, “I hope things work out. I hope things will change.” Our hope, our peace is rooted in an outcome. Our hope is in avoiding the storm.
Hope in God is not about escaping the storm. In fact, He promised they would come. It is about knowing that the One who leads you through it is stronger.
The winds are going to come. The storms will threaten to overtake us. The right questions can help us find hope and peace in the midst of them. In fact, they can lead to greater strength and sweeter relationship with Jesus than we’ve ever known.
Let’s get rid of the Oreos and Yoohoo and start building solid ground.