Tag Archives: hurricane

Punishing Rain

I had a terrible time sleeping last night.

I’ve not been feeling great for the last few days, but I don’t know specifically what prevented me from being able to fall asleep.

While lying awake, I had the chance to listen to a rainstorm, and began thinking about rain.

There are all kinds of rain. Sometimes we picture a steady and firm cleansing sort of rain, which washes away the dirt and grime. Sometimes we envision a gentle drizzle, a romantic rain that serves to underscore the union of two star-crossed lovers.

I live in a state that is known for rain–everything from sun-showers to hurricanes. Last night wasn’t cleansing rain or romantic rain.

It was punishing rain.

It battered the trees and windows. Huge drops, rapidly descending–seeking to demolish.

This type of rain is not unique either, but the question always is: how long will it last? Sometimes, it’s only 3-4 seconds (literally). At other times, it is relentless for 20 minutes or more. Suddenly it comes, and abruptly it ceases. And you can never tell at the outset how long it will remain.

Rain is a good thing. The earth needs it. The plants flourish because of it. But as with most things, too much of it is harmful, damaging, tiring, trying.

During my late night experience of this punishing rainstorm, I felt like I was being reminded of something.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m making a significant work-related move. We are looking forward to the new position, and we’ve been asking God to send us soon. We want to go, we see great potential to be blessed and to be a blessing.

But I’m remembering that it will not be easy. It won’t be sunshine and daisies everyday. It won’t always be gentle drizzle. It will feature times of hurricanes and punishing rains. And we’re asking for it.

It’s not something to go into lightly. It’s not a journey to take unprepared. Any expectations of assuming it will be easy need to be washed away and replaced with the reality that hardships will come.

Will it be a great experience? Will we be blessed and be a blessing? Indeed, I think we will. And…it will have hard times, struggles, and difficulties. There will be seasons when the punishing rain just won’t let up. There will be experiences which can be harmful, damaging, tiring, trying.

We are asking to do this job. We are asking to be sent forward into this work. And last night was a reminder of the totality of what we’re asking for.

Umbrellas and ponchos are available, but the rain comes in many forms–and I’m about to get wet.


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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Life, Prayer



From Mercy to Arrogance

As Hurricane Irene threatened the U.S. East Coast this weekend, I found myself praying that God would come in mercy, and not in wrath, to those residing in its path. I asked that lives would be spared.

And then I got to thinking: what if people were expecting great tragedy, and instead encountered great mercy. What if the death tolls, injury counts, and dollars of destruction were far, far less than anticipated. How would people react?

Watching the weather news today, I’ve heard this phrase used a number of times already: “we dodged a bullet.”

So what’s the follow-up response? Having dodged a bullet, are we thankful? Are we relieved? Or do we become arrogant, thinking that the storm wasn’t that big of a deal after all. “See, all that hype just blew things out of proportion. That little category 1 storm didn’t do very much.”

This storm has not been without impact. Lives have been lost. Homes have been damaged and destroyed. Life has certainly been disrupted for many millions of people, as transportation, electricity, and other amenities are not available as usual.

Having witnessed several hurricanes, I would say that God did indeed come in mercy this time. Irene could have had a much more severe impact on residents up and down the East Coast.

So how will we receive this mercy? I’m terribly afraid that it will breed apathy, or worse, arrogance. Something about our nature can lead us to believe that “dodging a bullet” and being immune to bullets are the same thing. The Superman within each of us starts coming out, and our words become arrogant and taunting. We fail to see that we didn’t dodge anything. To my knowledge, the North American continent didn’t move itself out of the storm’s path–and if it did, we certainly didn’t make it happen. No, we didn’t dodge. We were spared. The storm’s path and intensity were altered, and we were largely preserved.

So let’s make sure we don’t pull out the red capes and blue tights when the next life storm comes toward us, irreverently thinking that, because we got away unscathed this time, we can never be harmed in the future. Instead, let’s be thankful people. Thankful that God came in mercy against our nation, and not in wrath.

Charles Swindoll (in Grace Awakening, I believe) mentions that grace which cannot be abused isn’t grace. When God displays favor toward us, there’s always the possibility that we respond in arrogance and with a false sense of license (or entitlement).

Let’s be people that respond aright. God granted mercy. Let’s not respond in arrogance.


Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Life, Theology



Centers of Presence

The National Hurricane Center is based in Miami, FL.

With Hurricane Irene currently battering the U.S. East Coast, it’s undoubtedly a busy place right now.

But I’ve often wondered about the wisdom of locating the center in Miami. After all, it’s Miami, along with other southeastern coastal cities, which are most likely to get by hurricanes. Is that really the best place to locate the central nervous system of U.S. hurricane information processing? What happens if Miami itself is devastated by a hurricane (1992: Hurricane Andrew)–wouldn’t that mean that our headquarters for hurricane information is right in the path of hurricane danger? If it gets destroyed, then what?

With modern technology, it seems unlikely that the hurricane center must be located in Miami. Weather data processing could probably take place from anywhere. And I seriously doubt that one of their main roles is to simply peek out their windows and comment on the storm as it’s heading toward them. Why then put the center in Miami?

I’ve served in a few different roles overseas. The large part of my work could be done from a laptop anywhere on the planet that has electricity and Internet access. So why live in a foreign environment in order to serve? Why locate in an area that potentially puts you in harm’s way?


When trying to serve others, their perception of your presence is crucial. If you’re chatting with someone and a distant, unfocused look comes into your eyes while they’re talking (and you’re supposed to be listening), they figure out pretty quickly that you’re not really there, you’re not really with them in the moment, sharing communication together. And it will hurt the relationship.

When trying to care for someone, their ability to believe that you know what they feel, that you’ve had similar experiences, is key. It opens the door for trust and credibility, along with the healing power of empathy (or is sympathy?).

The hurricane center could be located in Montana. I imagine that Montana is considered extremely safe when it comes to the threat of experiencing a hurricane. They could build a huge data processing center to collect information from all over the east coast, process that information, and then send their reports back to the folks who are living in the storm’s path. But who trusts a bunch of weather scientists sitting behind computers in a state that doesn’t experience hurricanes? Instead, when those experts are themselves located in harm’s way, when they can–and have–looked out their front doors and confronted the winds and rains of a hurricane bearing down on their homes and neighborhoods, then they have instant credibility. They didn’t just read about these storms in a textbook. They’ve lived them.

In the same way, I could do my job from a laptop anywhere. But living in the same country (let alone the same time zone), facing the same pressures of culture and difficulties of language, gives me an opportunity to say: I know what that’s like. I’ve been there. In fact, I am there. And suddenly, there’s a relational opportunity opened to me that wouldn’t be open to others, even to those who have much greater wisdom and training than I do. They might “know”, but I have experienced. And even more: I am currently present.

Presence has value for relationship and communication. It even has commercial value: attending a live concert is far more expensive than buying a CD (or legally purchasing and downloading electronic versions) of the songs the musician performs. But people pay for the experience; they pay for the opportunity to enjoy the musician’s presence. It counts for something. It surpasses the experience of having an electronically mediated exposure to faceless musical notes.

So, I’m thankful that the hurricane center is in Miami. I’m thankful that those experts risk their own safety to speak to us from experience. I’m thankful for their presence with my fellow Floridians, as they provide warnings and advice–some of which is gained from looking out of their own front windows…which have a view of the storms just like mine.

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Posted by on August 27, 2011 in Life



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