On September 5, 2004 Hurricane Frances pummeled our home. We had decided to stay. I wrote about hurricanes as a metaphor for evil and other related themes in my book, SURVIVING HURRICANES. Last year we endured Hurricane Matthew when we lost three big trees in our yard and had to re-landscape. Last Saturday we drove out of town to avoid Hurricane Irma. After 25 minutes I realized that I had not shut the garage door and had to return. The roads were empty and the stores boarded up and closed due to mandatory evacuation. It seemed as if Amelia Island was a ghost town. Since I-95 and the other interstates were clogged with evacuees driving north from South Florida we took US-1 to Augusta, Georgia and then to Anderson, SC, Antoinette’s hometown where two of her sisters still live. When we returned on Wednesday we found that our wonderful neighbor had cleared our driveway so that we could access our house which was undamaged despite two more trees being down. The roads are lined with tree limbs and debris. The Chapel parking lot needs to be cleared for a wedding on Saturday and services on Sunday. All this reminds me of how vulnerable we all are to the mighty power of Nature. We have no control over the forces of Nature. We human beings are fragile creatures who are dependent on so many things we tend to take for granted: electric power, water, television, refrigeration, air conditioning.
On Sunday I meditated on Psalm 77 which reminds us of the power of God over and through Nature as seen in the crossing of Israel through the Red Sea to escape slavery in Egypt.
Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
The clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Hurricanes humble us. They remind us that we are like sheep being led by Jesus, our Good Shepherd, through the leadership of the prophets and apostles. Some people cannot see the footprints of God in the storms of life. They are blind to the works of Providence and their need of a Savior and Redeemer. They are too proud to admit their weakness. Zora Neale Hurston entitled her stunning description of the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, Their Eyes Were Watching God. When we watch Nature, whether in a sunrise or sunset or in beautiful flora and fauna, or in a Hurricane, we see God’s Grandeur as Gerard Manley Hopkins beautifully expressed it.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed, Why do men then now not reck his rod?
“Reck” means to pay heed to, take account of, care about, concern oneself. In the past God was seen to reveal his power through Nature. In all the commentary about climate change being man-made I sometimes wonder whether we need to “reck his rod”, take account of God’s power and our need to humble ourselves under his mighty hand!