Riding Out the Storm and Caring for Folks
When my oldest son Luke was a little boy, about two or so, we went to a friend’s house for a picnic. They had a basketball hoop and Luke was hooked. He wanted to get the big basketball through the hoop. Of course, the ball was about half his size and the hoop, designed for adults, was very high up. I tried to teach Luke to throw the basketball-no luck at his age. I tried to teach him to do the Granny throw, you know, the one where you heave it up from your knees-even that only got the ball about one eighth of the way to the basket. I tried to see if I could adjust the pole and bring the basket down closer to Luke but it wouldn’t budge.
Then my friend came over. He is over six feet. He took Luke in his arms while Luke clutched the basketball. He held Luke high up and Luke was able to thrust the ball into the hoop. He was elated, clapping and he said proudly, “I did it all by myself!!”
“I did it all by myself!”
Most of the Old Testament is about God convincing us that we cannot do it all by ourselves. Strange that human beings need convincing but we do. We seem to be prone to think that we can get that ball through the hoop of life and make our lives work right. We seem to think that we have the capacity to make ourselves happy. We are simply, perpetually deluded into thinking we can make it on our own. We forget how small we are, how helpless.
Take this storm. We have great technology. We can see it coming. We talk about winds and categories and zones. This front and that front. We understand meteorology and physics. We are so darned smart. But we still can’t make the storm do what we want. We are still like Luke at 2, only getting the ball one eighth of the way to the hoop.
I don’t know about you but I have been feeling a bit powerless lately. It’s a strange feeling, this jittery anxiety, as if something bad is coming and I am not exactly sure when or if I am ready.
Evacuate. Stay put. Board up your windows. Don’t bother. Check your zone. Stock up on water. It’s coming this way, no that way. 175 mile per hour winds. No 80 miles per hour. It’s coming this direction. Hurry up and wait.
Being able to see the weather far away but not knowing how to predict its behavior makes for a strange kind of atmosphere. We wait for Hurricane Irma in all her glory and we have no idea what kind if devastation she will cause. No idea.
We are as helpless as we were in the time of Moses. But we do have advanced notice.
Back in the time of Moses, whole villages would die with no notice. Storms would ravage towns and no one knew they were coming. People would starve. God did this but people had to figure out why. They had to figure out how to stay alive. So God told Moses to put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and God would pass over and their first born sons would live. God would tell them what to do and if they obeyed God’s instructions correctly, they would survive. The goal was survival.
If God loves you and if you obey God’s commandments, you will live a long life-that is the premise of much of the Old Testament.
But we are not a people of just the Old Testament. We are Jesus people. And Jesus did not survive. Jesus died. He died publicly and brutally. He died to show us that mere survival is not the point. There are things that are much more important.
The purpose of this life for the Christian is not just to stay alive but it is more than that. For us, during this storm, it is not so important where you go or if you stay or whether or not you board up your windows or put blood on the doorframe. What matters is something else entirely. What matters is the choices you make and how you treat those around you. What matters is how you choose to live the days that you are given. Not how long they are but how you live.
Let me say that again, for people who follow Jesus, it is not so much how long you live but HOW you live. It is not important so much how long to live but HOW you live.
Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Your relationships, your choices-they are important. More important than your plans to evacuate or not. Your words to your loved ones, your tone of voice, your choice to forgive-these are essential. These things make up your mark, the person you chose to be- your slam dunk.
The work of the Christian happens when you help someone else. It is the man who leaves $1000 anonymously at the door of a safe hotel so that people who can’t afford a room can be housed safely. It is the man who spends his afternoon boarding up his neighbor’s house, the woman who delivers food to her friends. It is you and I looking to serve each other.
How you live is what is important to God. The choices that you make within the realm of what is possible. That is God’s will for us.
God is lifting you up so that your life can become something more than just survival. Let God hold you. Let God lift you. See where those arms lead you. And then throw that ball! High into the air and do all that you can to love this crazy mixed up world and the people in it.
Our work will begin in earnest after this storm is over. When much of Florida will need us. Rest now. Be ready to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world soon. When the winds die down, we will have much to do.
Tags: Stress / Powerlessness / Anxiety